Equipped With Happiness

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Be Happier By Putting Bad Stuff In Its Place

bad mood cartoonIn a certain light, even the smallest objects can cast giant, menacing shadows. The same is true of negative events in our lives. If we view them in the wrong light, they can create a shadow that covers a much larger area than is warranted by their actual magnitude. This dark shadow can block the glow of happiness that shines from other parts of our lives.

Fortunately, by changing the light in which we view these negative events, it is relatively easy to prevent this shadow from forming. We simply need to focus on a few reminders that help keep our problems in perspective.

Reminder #1: Most bad stuff isn’t permanent.

When something goes wrong, or we find ourselves in a less-than-ideal situation, it is easy to get so caught up in the frustration of the moment that we forget our discomfort will not last forever. Often, negative circumstances are only temporary. For instance, we only need to tolerate an unpleasant job until we are able to find a better one (or until we can retire).  But even if the circumstances are permanent, usually our extreme aversion to them is not. As we get some distance from a bad break up, for example, we are able to adjust to the situation and feel less miserable.

It is important to remind ourselves that no matter how bad something seems, it’s only “for now.” It is easier to cope with unhappiness when we remember that eventually we will find some relief. Just think of how much easier the knowledge that Friday exists makes it to survive the workweek!

Reminder #2: Bad stuff has a tendency to create more bad stuff.

If a day starts with an alarm clock that doesn’t go off, followed by a flat tire, it is tempting to label the entire day as a “bad day.” But the second we decide we are having a bad day we severely decrease the chances that things will turn around. Once a day has been identified as “bad,” we’re more likely to interpret everything that happens in that context. A burnt dinner becomes yet another failure, when it could just as easily have been a good excuse to eat out.

Not only that, wallowing in a bad mood makes us unpleasant to be around, and may drive away people who could have made us feel better. When we bump into an attractive stranger, who might have offered us a flirtatious remark if we were smiling, they might respond to our obvious bad mood with a sharp, “Watch where you’re going,” instead. Of course, we will then take their rudeness as further evidence of our bad day. It’s up to us to avoid letting the bad things multiply.

Reminder #3: Taking time to appreciate the good helps keep the bad from taking over.

Knowing that it isn’t productive to let a bad mood influence everything else is one thing, but actually stopping that from happening is a whole different animal. It can be helpful to try to counter bad moods by actively reminding ourselves of the things we have to be happy about. These don’t even need to be big things; simply thinking about the taste of warm apple pie, or the feeling of sliding into a refreshing swimming pool on a hot day, can be enough to brighten our moods. The more time we spend thinking about the good parts of life, the less space there will be in our minds to fixate on bad stuff.

Life may not always be perfect, but, if we commit to reducing the shadow cast by less-than-ideal circumstances, these imperfections do not have to ruin our happiness.



25 Inexpensive Things To Do When You’re Bored

no boredom1. Bake something- Whether you are a master pastry chef or notorious for your overly salty cookies, baking can be a fun way to spend a few hours. And if you don’t want to eat whatever you make, you can give it away to friends, coworkers, or those in need.

2. Go for a walk- Take a stroll through your neighborhood, explore nearby strip malls, or find a hiking trail. Walking is a great way to get a change of scenery and fit in some exercise at the same time.

3. Text/call a friend- Often our lives get so busy that we put off maintaining relationships with others. Staving off boredom with friendly conversation is a great opportunity to reconnect.

4. Do a word search/crossword puzzle- These are a great way to fill short chunks of free time, and they help keep your brain active.

5. Dabble in photography- Even if all you have is a disposable camera, pretend you are a professional photographer and experiment with lighting, camera angles, etc. You might find a new talent, or at least get a good laugh at your blurry efforts.

6. Play handball/ table tennis- The great thing about these games is that you can play them with friends or alone (if you fold the ping pong table in half and push it against a wall).

7. Write a poem- It doesn’t have to be a fancy Haiku or a perfect sonnet (although it definitely could be). You can channel your inner Dr. Seuss with some fun rhymes or experiment with free verse.

8. Put together a recipe book- You know all those recipes written down on scraps of paper all over your kitchen? Get a binder and consolidate them into a custom recipe book. You could even add a few new recipes that you have been wanting to try.

9. Research something- It could be sharks, the history of hot dogs, or the latest developments in neuroscience. Pick anything, and learn way more about it than anyone should know.

10. Re-watch your favorite movie- Who cares if you already know it by heart?

11. Clean out your closet- Pull out old clothes you never wear. You can even sneak in an act of kindness by donating them to charity.

12. People-watch- This can provide hours of entertainment. Just try not to be too creepy about it.

13. Go to the pet store- You could get your adorableness fix by visiting the puppies, try to find Nemo in the fish section, or fantasize about buying a snake to put in your sister’s bed. The possibilities are endless.

14. Plan your dream vacation-Pretend you have been given an unlimited budget, and a week off to go wherever you want. Pick out the destinations you’ll visit, the places you’ll stay, the food you’ll eat, and the activities you’ll do. Hey, it never hurts to dream, right?

15. Try a new hairstyle- Just think twice before shaving your head.

16. Put together a puzzle- The best thing about puzzles is that they can be as easy or as difficult as you want them to be. Also, there is just something satisfying about fitting little cardboard pieces together.

17. Learn a new skill- Maybe you have always wanted to speak another language, play piano, or make a perfect pie. Whatever skill you want to add to your repertoire, go for it!

18. Memorize a monologue from a popular movie- Impress/ annoy your friends by reciting it every chance you get. Trust me, this will be entirely worth the effort.

19. Make Ooblick- Ooblick is a non-Newtonian substance (in other words, it obeys properties of both liquids and solids) and it is extremely fun to play with. To make it, simply mix 1 cup of water with 1.5 to 2 cups of cornstarch.

20. Do crafts- Watercolor, paint, scrapbook, knit, draw, or do anything else you can imagine.

21. Try Youtube exercise videos- Whether you’re a yoga nut, a Zumba fanatic, or a kickboxing fan, the internet has something for you. Enjoy the opportunity to try some potentially embarrassing forms of exercise in the privacy of your own home.

22. Write a letter to your future self- Write down some of your current interests, friends, worries, etc. Put the letter in an envelope and decide on a future date to open it. Write the date on the outside of the envelope and keep it where you won’t forget about it.

23. Watch a foreign language film without English subtitles- Try to figure out what’s happening in the story, then check a synopsis online to see how close you were.

24. Take a personality test- It can be a formal test, backed by psychological research, or a silly test along the lines of “What flavor of ice cream are you?” or “Which 80’s band should you have joined?”

25. Start a bucket list- Eliminate your current boredom by writing down all the fun things you plan to do in the future. You could even start making plans to do some of them!


Places You Go To Have Fun: A Crossword Puzzle

Each answer in this puzzle reminds one of a happy place,

By the time you’ve filled it out,

You’re sure to have a smile on your face.

But if you find yourself in doubt,

Just check the answer guide below,

And then get ready for your teeth to show.


Simply click the puzzle and print to begin!

fun places crossword




Down: 1. Bowling Alley, 2. Pool, 3. Golf Course, 4. Ice Rink, 5. Beach, 6. Theater, 7. Lake

Across: 1. Zoo, 2. Six Flags, 3. Disneyland, 4.Restaurant, 5. Park, 6. Museum, 7. Mountains, 8. Carnival