What’s something “non-spiritual” or “non-religious” you do that others can do, too, to be happy day-to-day?
It’s the Little Things.
1. Touch water. Whether in the form of a hot bath, a cool drink of water (stay hydrated!), swimming or the ocean, water heals.
2. Sweat once a day. Exercise—find something you enjoy doing, and do it. I like bicycling, climbing, and yoga.
3. Eat real food. If it has more than three ingredients, generally, or if you’ve seen an ad for it, generally—skip it.
4. Support, subscribe, read a good magazine (print or online) that’s better than you are—with a hot drink of coffee or tea and a little sunshine and quiet.
5. Keep our clothes off the floor. While a messy house, full of love, can be delightful, our environments reinforce our mental states, just asour physical posture can enlighten or depress us. So let’s practice keeping things relatively clean not out of a sense of uptightness, but out of a sense of matter-of-fact delight in daily beauty, respect and simplicity.
6. Community. Even if we don’t meditate, seeing community—bicycling around, at the dog park, at the grocery, at the cafe—will uplift and open our troubled hearts.
7. Don’t be afraid to be a fool. Smile at a stranger. Smile, period. It gets easier with practice (I say this as someone who doesn’t suffer new agey fools, gladly). Laughter, too, is one thing that’s no less delightful even if you’re faking it until you really mean it.
8. Work in an office, or live with, a dog. Dogs are shown to dramatically up folks’ happiness, and productivity, both. And they’ll force you to get outside. Caveat: only adopt if we’re ready, more or less. Never buy.
9. Breathe in and out, slowly, once a day. Feel one’s breath like the rising, falling waves. Breathe deeply, clearing out old air. Breathe up into one’s collar bones.
10. Never eat while standing up, or driving. We’ll overeat, generally, and we won’t enjoy the food so much.
11. Never cell phone while talking, or walking. Do one thing at a time, and know that it’s not a waste—being present is always more efficient, and leads to space for good ideas and fresh approaches.
12. Hike. Or, just walk. Get out in nature. Or, a park. Nature opens us up, and calms our kleshas.
13. Stop obsessing about one’s own happiness. Help others. In small or ongoing ways.
14. Put on a favorite song and sing it out, like we mean it.
15. Pick up trash in the street. Take a bottle out of the trash, and put it in recycling. Save unused napkins from a restaurant for use at home. Do little things for society that may go “unrewarded.”
16. Watch a movieand eat a little too much ice cream/pop corn/vegan ice cream/edamame/nuts. Collapsing into one’s core once in a while is necessary to one’s creative energies.
17. Put a few photos of loved ones around.
18. Be honest. This includes doing work for money that we can believe in, or finding a way to feel good about it.
19. Sleep more. Even a little more. I have no idea how, but it’s a good idea.
20. Write. Whether a journal or a blog, expressing oneself is cathartic and sensical-making.
21. Meditate. There’s nothing “spiritual” about meditation. It’s simply sitting still, with good, relaxed posture, and paying attention to one’s outbreath. When we notice a thought, that’s fine, we acknowledge it with a “label” by saying, silently, to ourselves, “thinking,” and returning to the outbreath. Before we know it: present moment, from whence all great and good things manifest.