Today is Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
It don’t matter if it’s raining
Nothing can phase me
I make my own sunshine
And if you think you can break me
Baby you’re crazy
I make my own sunshine
–Alyssa Bonagura, “I Make My Own Sunshine”
When I woke up this morning, the world was white, everything covered in a layer of snow. There was almost no distinction between the snow on the ground and the clouds in the sky. Like a lot of people, I was disappointed to wake up to snow on the first of May. By midday, the snow had melted and left the grass green for the first time this spring, a happy surprise, as it has been brown since late last summer.
It upset me a bit to realize that my mood could be so quickly affected by the weather, especially since I knew the snow would probably not last very long. I decided that I needed to learn how to make my own sunshine.
When I googled “making your own sunshine” today, the first hit was Alyssa Bonagura’s happy little song, which is the background for a Lowe’s commercial on TV. She’s definitely got the right idea. You can listen to it here.
Here are 21 ways to make your own sunshine.
1) Get up and move around or go out for a walk. As James Brown used to sing, “Get up offa that thing!”
2) Reach out to friends. If they’re busy right now, email them or leave them a message on Facebook. If they’re not online, write them a letter. Send a status message on Facebook that says you need a hug. If your Facebook friends don’t respond appropriately, it’s time to find new friends. Find ways to pay your friends compliments.
3) Cross an item off your “to-do” list. If you can, use the “one-minute rule”: don’t put anything off for longer than one minute. (You can increase that time to something more realistic, like 10 minutes or a couple of hours. Just don’t change it to “tomorrow,” “next month,” or “when I get around to it.”)
4) Lay the groundwork for something fun in the near future. Order a book, plan a getaway. Find a community or church function to attend. Check the coming attractions at the movie theater. Find out what’s going on in your area. Find out what’s being featured at a local museum or what concerts are coming up at local schools or in your community. It’s important to get out of town every once in a while, or at least to get out of the house.
5) Do a good deed each day, just for love, with no strings attached and no expectation of reward. In fact, take up the challenge of doing nice things without anybody seeing you.
6) Act happy; smile; fake it till you make it.
7) Listen to your favorite music, or watch a comedy video. You can rent one online or just go to YouTube online. Sing along with your favorite singer, or dance to the music.
8) Keep a Gratitude Notebook and list the things you are grateful for today. Date your entry. Keep putting entries in the notebook whenever you think of it. And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do this every day. Just do it when yo u can. It doesn’t matter if you are grateful for the same thing every day. Just write what you are grateful for that particular day.
9) Consciously lower the bar for making yourself happy. Instead of vowing that you won’t be happy until you lose 40 pounds, resolve to be content if you can lose five pounds in the next couple of weeks. You can always reset your goal. Some people are happy to know that they are still alive and kicking at the start of each new day.
10) Realize that happiness is something you create while you are on the journey, not something you can only have when you have reached your destination.
11) Forgive yourself and forgive others. There’s no sense in allowing old grudges or memories of past failures to make you miserable.
12) Learn to meditate and write yourself some affirmations. Keep affirmations in the present tense, and keep them short. Post them on your bathroom mirror and say them aloud, with feeling, as you look at yourself in the mirror. Or re-read them to yourself just before you go to sleep each night. Make new ones every so often.
13) Make sure you have something on your personal calendar every day, even if it is only running an errand.
14) Focus on others rather than on yourself. Volunteer for something in your community.
15) List your achievements and be sure to pat yourself on the back for each one.
16) Develop a hobby, or if you already have one, develop another one.
17) Set some short-term and long-term goals, and be sure to cross them off your list when you have accomplished each one. The Japanese have a great way to do this. They have little round dolls called daruma that come with the eyes blank. When you make a wish or set a goal, you paint in one eye, as in the illustration at left. When your goal is complete, you paint in the other eye. You can find a picture of a daruma by going to Google and typing in that word. Choose an image with blank eyes. Print it out and use black marker to fill in one eye. Write your goal down on that same piece of paper. Then put the paper in a safe place and don’t forget to fill in the other eye when your wish comes true or your goal has been met. Whenever you do meet a goal, celebrate – with others, if possible.
18) Find ways to keep your immediate surroundings calm. This is as simple as cleaning off your desk, sorting your papers, throwing away junk, or putting things away where they belong. For a more long-term solution, you may wish to consider painting a room that you use most often a “happier” shade, or find some artwork that pleases you and hang it in a prominent place in your home.
19) Distance yourself from negative people. You don’t have to allow negative people into your space. If you are forced to work with negative people, learn how to surround yourself with a bubble of light while you’re at work.
20) Stop thinking about and talking about your problems. Remember that life unfolds around you based on what you are focusing on. If you are focusing on your problems, you will end up making yourself needlessly miserable.
21) Do an art project with a child. If you have no children or grandchildren of your own, offer to make something fun with a neighbor child or one of the kids from your church while the parents run some errands. One mother blogged about flattening out some white coffee filters and having her kids paint them. When the paint dried, they cut the filters to look like flowers and stuck them to a window. Later, the mother used paint mixed with a little dish washing soap (for easier cleanup) and painted the stems and leaves of the “flowers”. Her kids loved it. When you see how much fun kids are having making art, some of their joy will rub off on you. 🙂