After finishing an interview on this subject, it became clear that I had a lot more resources for feeling cheerier than I remember to tap into sometimes. If this is a feeling you can relate to, then here are my top ten-ish ideas.
It seemed logical to divide the ideas by locale: inside or outside.
Inside activities to cheer you up:
1. TV/iPad or phone: what are your go-to shows that make you laugh? No News, for starters. Absolutely not! For me, those shows would be Grace and Frankie (Netflix), Friends, Seinfeld, Big Bang Theory, Fehrety, Jimmy Fallon reruns. Go-to movies can work too. mine are Love Actually, The Holiday, Mamma Mia, The Hangover.
2. Mindless hobbies: I make wine-cork lined serving trays. Don’t ask me why or how it started, but I get swallowed up in this, indoors or outdoors. I’ve even carted the supplies to an outdoor place. It’s a big puzzle. And a conversation starter, which is kind of fun for the demeanor. Each cork MUST fit. No cutting. It’s oddly satisfying and makes me happy, even to do it for a short time. People will always stop and comment and by watching they become engaged. I also have a loom on which I make infinity scarves out of yarn. Again, you just get lost in it and it is a happy lost.
3. Puppies and babies: nothing cheers up our staff at work than when either of these living things enter our lobby. They are like magnets of joy! Toddlers work too. We have a coloring table and a coloring cardboard house. There have been a few times when a child has asked another employee or me to sit down and color with them. It is absolutely the best to color again! Not to mention, getting paid to do it!?
Puppies can also be grown dogs, in my opinion. I love communities where dogs are hanging out with their humans at outdoor cafes. It’s a must to go over and ask if they can be petted. There’s no drug like a natural endorphin to bring cheer to us – almost instantaneously. Same with Babies. I don’t care if I get to hold them or not, but just let me touch a baby toe or that soft place under their chin, or a cheek and here come the endorphins!
If you have a pup to walk, you will have other people acknowledge you, especially if your dog is good looking or funny looking. When I walk my Lab or my grand-dogs, both beautiful, black Labs, people admire them. Most children ask to pet my dog. If that doesn’t add cheer to your day, I don’t know what will! Also, when you walk try to imagine the pure, simple joy a pet or child has to being walked or strolled outside. So much to take in, sniff, or touch.
Perhaps you’re a cat person. I don’t know too much about that genre, but I suppose it has many of the same properties, although it would be great if more people would leash their cats, like we do our dogs!
For a really feel good pet event, there is the Mutt Strut fundraiser this weekend for the Humane Society. It’s like stepping into Dr. Seuss’ book, “Go Dogs, Go!” It’s a dog fest.
4. No pets? Okay, fine, just walk outside by yourself. There’s nothing better than the great outdoors even in off-weather. Check out that sky, whether it’s clear or clouded! They don’t call it, “The Great Outdoors” for nothing. Do you ever hear it referred to as, “The Mediocre Outdoors?” Nope.
Sometimes getting out of the house is equivalent to getting out of your head. If I can coordinate a walk with a friend who is fun or funny, that’s a win-win.
5. Go to the gym. If there is noise and people, the activity makes me feel good. I don’t even have to break a sweat! If it’s not a positively charged place, find a new gym.
6. Get to some water. Sitting by a pool, a pond, lake or ocean does something magical to me. The constant movement are happy laps of water I guess. I just love water. I even love the Gulf of Mexico when a storm is brewing out to sea! It’s the best! My dream some day is to live close enough to a body of water that I can drink my morning coffee on the porch or deck and look at the water. Currently, we just have a plastic blue baby pool for our dog. She thinks it’s her water bowl. A baby pool is a start, but I want the real deal.
7. Classes in general: art, clay, or physical exercise. My latest indulgence is Pound-fit class. We use drumsticks, called “Ripsticks”, because apparently, if we do this class long enough, we’re going to be ripped. But I doubt it. The instructor plays great music and we keep beat to it with cardio and strengthening moves. Best thing is the movements can be done from a standing position, to a mat on the floor, to a chair. Any level can engage. Last week, I tried a virtual class for the first time. I picked barre class. A ballerina I am not, but it was actually fun and very difficult. Of course, looking at myself in the mirror in gym shorts and sneakers, hardly mimicked the beautiful svelte ballerina instructors on the screen. Big deal. There was music. There was movement. I left feeling happier.
8. Grabbing a great morning coffee cheers me up. It can be out of our own kitchen or it can be a specialty coffee at a shop. The key is that I do not go every day. For one thing, that gets expensive. For another thing, any activity ceases to be special if done repeatedly.
A common thread through finding joy and feeling cheered up is variety.
9. One time, a friend and I attended a drum therapy session. I felt absolutely ridiculous, but there was something about the effort and the noise and picking a different instrument for each song. Nobody judged and nobody laughed at me. Except me. Yes, it took guts to do something quite outrageous (for me), but that’s what a buddy’s for.
10. Haircuts, facials, manis and pedis: I completely love my monthly haircut. Kris is always upbeat and we have some of the most interesting conversations. Same with Carol, when I get my brows done. When she finishes, she takes a final look and pronounces my eyebrows, “ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!” How can you leave not feeling better? Sometimes she puts makeup on my eyes or a new color of lipstick on me. Then I feel glamorous. I remember when my mother was held hostage (not literally) by her hair stylist. She didn’t enjoy going every Friday, but she couldn’t quit her. It was like a bad date that you kept going out with. I would never settle and neither should you.
If you’re paying good money to look or feel better, then make sure the environment isn’t toxic.
11. Nursing homes are another place that can make you feel better. When I go to visit my mother there is always that tug on my gut before I get inside the home. Let’s face it, nobody wants to live in one and/or visit one, but we must, so we do. I make a point to say, “Hello,” to every resident and staff I encounter. Because most residents are in wheelchairs, where Mom lives, a lot of people look right over them. They will greet you back (if they can). I don’t care if they’re comatose, I’ll say, “Hello.” It cheers me up to think I may have added a teaspoon of cheer to their day, just by acknowledging them.
It’s the little things that can be the big things and that’s the main thing!
For now, I’ve got to go to work, where I’m guaranteed to find some cheer, because of the people with whom I work. I’ve already walked the black Lab, Lily White, and she’s laying halfway inside and outside the sliding glass door. She’s sniffing the air and has her ears tuned to the birds. After writing this piece, I do believe there is a special coffee waiting for me somewhere on the way to work!
Here’s to cheer!