Monday, April 30, 2012

Seven Ways to Improve Your Days

Good morning, it's Monday and if you're like many of the millions of people across the world, you probably did not want to get out of bed this morning. Monday seems to be this psychological day of the week that we dread more than any other. I am not certain as to why, though that it is the beginning of the work week most likely plays some large role in the matter.

Unlike those of you who dreaded getting out of bed this morning, I was looking forward to it. I was expecting a pay check to be deposited into my bank account through the night, as I slept. I was looking forward to rolling out of bed at my leisure (no work or school to go to) and going over to Tim Horton's to get a morning coffee. That was the plan but sometimes life doesn't concern itself with our plans; it has its own. So, this morning when I got up, you can bet my Monday Morning Madness went into overdrive when I discovered no money in my account (which incidently meant no coffee). Not cool.

I got mad. I cursed, I swore and I'm sure the people in my building thought someone must have robbed me the way I carried on for those few minutes. When I did settle down (about five minutes or so) I realized how absolutely silly and ridiculous getting that upset was. So I continued on with my day, managed to scrounge some pennies and get myself a coffee. Getting all this done, I realized that I was feeling in a much better mood and began to question it. Coffee alone was not responsible. As I was contemplating this, I passed a gentleman walking, smiled and said good day. His response was the same. Then it hit me. Little things. The little things are what matters.

With this in mind, I have devised seven ways in which to improve your days. Now bear in mind, these work for me and they should, by all rights, work for you. You'll also notice that not all of them have anything to do with being selfish (good or bad; just doing things for yourself) and that's important. One of the great acts of life is bringing joy to others so, let's get happy:

1) Smile - This is by far the easiest way to make any day better. Smiling is extremely contagious. Even when people are having some of their worse days, seeing a simple smile can quickly help to change their disposition into a much happier one. Sometimes, and if you're lucky you'll get a chance to do this, you can make the angriest person burst out into uncontrolled laughter with nothing more than a smile. Smiling is one very simple way to show you care; even to a complete stranger and sometimes that's all we need; to know someone cares.

2) Hold Open A Door - Seems like a pretty simple thing to do doesn't it? Yet so many of us neglect this simple act. Holding open a door might sound even a little too simple an action to change anything, but believe me, it does. It isn't always that someone needs you to hold open the door, in fact most cases they don't, but the action, the action is something they need. Again we have a very small, inconspicuous action that is liable to make the difference between a good or bad day for someone. Be the difference.

3) Gratitude - If you ever wanted to do something small that can have a huge impact, show some gratitude. I'm not talking about saying thanks to your parents for buying you that iPod; I'm not talking about thanking your boss for giving you that extra day off; no, none of that. Those should be automatic. I mean little acknowledgements of gratitude. Saying thanks to that person who held open the door (see what's happening here) or perhaps returning that smile someone flashed you (connecting dots yet?). Heck, it could be as simple as telling a friend how happy you are that you two are friends. Aim small, impact big.

4) Apologize - How often do we walk around with baggage full of resentment over not getting an apology? Many times in my life I carried this extra burden unnecessarily; I am certain you have as well. The worst is that the burden is the same no matter the presumed slight. Be mindful to apologize, even if you think it to be unnecessary. I have learned that I am not always aware of my mistakes and so no matter what the situation, if I think for even just the slightest of moments I have intentionally or unintentionally hurt you, I will offer you an apology for it. That is the thing, sometimes we're completely oblivious to our errors which makes it harder later on as those we hurt have had time to become bitter. Apologize when you can, even if it wasn't your fault. What I mean is if you see someone treating someone poorly but can't intervene, go over after and apologize, not for yourself, but just in general. You had nothing to do with the cause of the situation but you have the power to resolve it. Smile, apologize and talk (happening again...I know you might be confused, I'll explain afterwards).

5) Talk - You do this already? Do you? Do you talk to people or simply at them? Take the time to properly focus yourself when you're conversing with others. Look them in the eye, put down your phone, shut off your music, turn off the television; just do whatever it takes to give that person your complete attention. That small moment (or big depending on the situation) of giving your undivided attention can make someone feel like they are important; like they mean something; like they are valued (which is good because we all have value). Talk to them, not at them, and you will find that they will respond much more positively and leave feeling at the very least, slightly better.

6) Listen - Now this one I am certain that we are all guilty of ignoring (get it? not listening is ignoring? I know, silly to laugh at one's own jokes) from time to time. In a world that is always on the go, it's sometimes hard to really stop and listen to people. We hear them when the speak but we're not always listening (yes there is a difference philosophically though not necessarily by definition). Take the time to listen to people when they are talking (oh, there it is again) to you. They have gone out of their way, either by choice or by necessity, to talk to you, offer them the same respect by listening. When you listen, you make people feel as though what they have to say matters and most likely it does; even if it doesn't to you.

7) Love - Of all the ways to improving your days, this is the most crucial, the most important, the most needed and the most likely to improve even the most terrible of days. Love. It can be any kind of love: romantic love, fraternal love, paternal love, maternal love, friendship love, love of humanity, love of art, love of whatever you can think of; just so long as it is pure and honest love. Like The Beatles said, "Love IS all you need." They weren't lying; they just figured it out sooner than the rest of us. Letting others know you love them is the fastest, surest way to help improve your day. Love is universal; love is eternal; love is hope; love is all you need.

Now I'll explain the little comments. It will be easy to see what my little sadistic joy was when you go back over it now. Did you notice that at the start, the list seemed to be about making other people's days better? It sure seemed that way to me but if you'll look at all my little (comments) you'll notice they come during an explanation of one method to improving your day while using a prior one to explain how it will. You see by doing nice things for others, others will do nice things for you. It's reciprocal. Ever heard that saying: What goes around, comes around? Well it works just as well, or better, with good as it does with bad. If you hold a door open for someone, you just helped improve their day; when they smile back and thank you, they have just helped improve your day. By helping others, you help yourself; by helping yourself (to kindness), you help others.

This is a rather abbreviated list of ways that I use to improve my days. There are so many little and big things that you can do to improve your days; also those of others (again; reciprocal). Some others that are equally important, though not here but deserve mentioning are: laughing, hugging, sharing and complimenting. These all go a very long way to improving the quality of your day.

You see folks, they say that bad moods spread like the plague; and they're right. Almost nothing spreads faster than someone's bad mood in a group environment. I am certain it has happened to you; it has happened to me many times before. That one person whose disposition is so terrible that everyone soon becomes as bitter as they. Well I have some very important information you may have been oblivious to up until now. I encourage you to share this information with as many people as possible; it could mean the difference between life or death (for some). What information?
Stand Out In The Crowd

The only thing that spreads faster than a bad mood is a good mood. Happiness spreads, not like a disease but like the rays of the sun: over everything and everyone.