Last week was ACT Happy Week – the idea being that conscious ACTIONS lead to chemical shifts resulting in more happiness. For added emphasis we tweaked the name of the week a bit and called it ACT (Be) Happy Week. For us, this spoke to the state of being able to work towards creating real shifts inside yourself. We also want to acknowledge that all your feelings are valuable; this week we were just focused on the state of Happy! We completely support you and honour all of you.
During ACT (Be) Happy Week we participated every day on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), posting different actions that help people be happier. Here in one place are all of those posts.
We challenge you to try this experiment:
Make a list of five things you loved to do when you were growing up. Remember why you loved these things.
If you feel a bit stuck, try this first. Before you put pen to paper, get comfy and close your eyes, rest one hand on your heart and one on your belly and take ten slow breaths. Take a moment to slow down and connect to yourself. Now take a trip down memory lane, specially scanning for happy memories. Pick one or two happy memories and take a moment to soak them up. Once you are done you can open your eyes. Now start your list of five things you loved to do when you were growing up.
Some of our favourites are:
• Walking barefoot outdoors
• Hitting a ball and bat
• Blowing bubbles
• Having a bubble blowing contest
• Going for a swim in nature
Share some of your favourites with others. Inspire your friends and family. After all, your ideas could trigger someone else’s happy memories. And so on.
Have you ever had a 5-minute dance party!! We highly recommend it. It’s such a transformational activity – in only 5 minutes!
TV characters, Meredith Grey and Christina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy may or may not have coined the phrase “5-minute dance party,” but they certainly exemplify the great benefits of “dancing it out.” Whenever these two best friends would get into a funk or work would feel too hard, they would halt everything and call a “5-minute dance party.” With music blasting they’d dance like no one was watching! This is actually an excellent way to shift our energy and our mood.
The next time you find yourself in a ho hum mood (or even right now!), we dare you to stop and throw a 5-minute dance party – with yourself or someone nearby. See if it changes how you feel. We bet you’ll notice a positive shift!
Taking action is a powerful way to change how we’re feeling. The power is in the doing, in being active, not passive. An especially great way to change our feeling state is to do something out of our comfort zone.
Let me share something about me – I’m afraid to go on roller coasters! But recently, while I was in Disneyland with my family, I agreed to go on Splash mountain – a kind of a roller coaster in the water. As we stood in line, there were warning signs about a 50-foot drop and if you have certain health conditions you should exit now. My anxiety built, my heart raced and my stomach turned. There was a huge part of me that wanted to take the escape route, a voice that said “it’s ok, they will have fun without you, go on sit in the sun and wait.” But my family really wanted to do this together. They wanted me to be part of this family fun! So onward I went. We got on to the ride with my daughter in front, me in the middle and my husband in the back with his hands resting around my waist assuring me that “you got this.” Off we went! Yes, it was scary, but it was so fun! At the end of the ride, we had created a wonderfully exciting family memory! I entered the ride feeling anxious and left feeling exhilarated, happy and confident!
We all have different things that take us out of our comfort zone. Pick something today (or any time you want a shift in how you’re feeling) that will take you out of your comfort zone and do it! Then, in the words of the popular “Wear Sunscreen” essay by Mary Schmich, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Looking to add some happiness to your day? Add a random act of kindness. The process of giving will instantly change any of those grey or darker feelings into something warm and wonderful.
One of the wonderful things about a random act of kindness is that it’s like a “two-for-one.” It changes both people’s states!
Here are some of our favourite acts of kindness to brighten someone’s day and brighten our own at the same time:
- Buying coffee for the person in line behind us
- Putting a bag of apples, box of power bars, bunch of socks, etc… in our car and when we are stopped at a stop light, giving them out to the people who are there asking for money
- Writing a nice message on a note or a stone and leaving it for someone to find
- Giving someone a compliment
- Writing out affirmations on post-it notes and leaving them randomly in public places
What are some of your favourites?
Trying something new can be an extremely effective way to become happier.
Our feeling states are literally wired into us. As we get older, we tend to experience the same feelings over and over again. It’s as if we have super highways of emotional pathways in our bodies. We experience these emotions easily and instantly.
This week we’re focusing on changing our emotional state to one that is a more positive, happier state where and when we can. But, for some of us, happy may not be an automatic emotion. It’s not our “go-to” feeling state.
This is where trying something new comes in. When we try something new we’re helping to rewire our internal emotional network! The newness of what we’re trying leads us to enter a foreign emotional landscape.
So, as we try something new it’s important to pay attention to what we are feeling, being curious about it and noting it to ourselves. This helps that new emotional territory become not quite so foreign and helps it become familiar. In essence, we’re paving a new super highway!
Going out in nature is a simple way to shift our feeling state to a happier one.
There is nothing like being in the woods, climbing a mountain, being by the sea or being in a garden to change our perspective on our world or headspace. It is a great reminder that we are all part of something bigger. There is life, growth and beauty happening all around us all the time.
The task here is to engage as fully as we can with nature: soak it in, let it impact us and change our state!
Getting and being connected to others contributes greatly to our feelings of happiness.
We are inherently connected – being connected is our true state, but most of us do not have enough meaningful connection in our lives. We are yearning for it. Often our minds have all these ideas about what we need to do to fully feel connected. We put limitations on it and these limitations often feel insurmountable.
Couples tell me all the time I can not be connected or fully myself until my partner does X, Y and Z or until this problem or that problem is fixed. But I actually find the opposite to be true
If you can start the process of getting connected and showing who you really are to people, your life will change and change quickly. People experience feeling happier, more free and more themselves than they have in a long time and problems become easier to solve.
Getting more connected actually takes minutes. Here are a few ideas:
- Try 3 minutes of eye gazing with your partner. With no words, just look and listen to your thoughts and feelings. How in touch with yourself are you? How do you feel? Hold your gaze regardless of how you feel? How do your thoughts and feelings change the longer you look into each other’s eyes?
- Share something about yourself with someone that you would not normally share.
- Invite someone out that you have been meaning to connect with.
- Express how much you care about someone to them.
Laura is a Master Therapeutic Counsellor and a Registered Counselling Supervisor (MTC,RCS,#2022) with the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada (ACCT). She is also a Certified Group Facilitator.