#279 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

It’s a great place to start, especially for people moving into new locations and looking to establish themselves socially and/or people just wanting to reinvent themselves from a social perspective.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#279

Join a Club

One of the important elements of happiness is to surround oneself with like minded people. It’s critical for our social emotional health. Perhaps one of the best ways to do this is to belong to a club or organization where all participants gather around and participate in a shared interest.

The opportunities are boundless… Some of the more ‘old fashioned’ options are fraternal organizations that may have been family interests such as the Masons or Eastern Star both of which are tradition based service organizations. Civic organizations such as the Lion’s Club also offer opportunities for involvement in local communities. Charities, foundations, and faith based groups are also great options for kindred spirits.

In addition to all those choices, the website GroupMe.com matches people to their inclinations. From book clubs and dance groups to sports activities and card players, GroupMe identifies others in your locale that share similar interests. It’s a great place to start, especially for people moving into new locations and looking to establish themselves socially and/or people just wanting to reinvent themselves from a social perspective. Additionally, people wanting to ‘test’ the water or experiment with other social groups have a plethora of options via GroupMe.

We are positively impacted each time we have an opportunity to surround ourselves with others who share the things we appreciate and even more so when those occasions allow us us to impact the world around us in a positive way. If you are seeking a way to increase your social interaction and/or impact other people, you might consider…

Joining a Club.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#280 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Think of a hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn… what stopped you? Perhaps mountain climbing isn’t an option for you at this stage of the game but indoor climbing might be! What about card tricks or magic tricks?

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#280

Learn a new hobby

Yesterday I wrote about how learning to play an instrument – making music – can lead to more happiness because our brain is stimulated in a different manner and music, in general – makes us happier. Perhaps you already play well or learning an instrument feels overwhelming… pick up a different hobby.

I taught myself how to crochet a few years ago while recovering from surgery. It’s become a favorite pastime in winter months and now most everyone I know has an afghan, nothing fancy but they were all made with love. Once again, I learned by watching YouTube videos (really, there’s just so much to learn out there!).

Think of a hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn… what stopped you? Perhaps mountain climbing isn’t an option for you at this stage of the game but indoor climbing might be! What about card tricks or magic tricks? The Philadelphia Eagles player Jon Dorenbos taught himself magic as a hobby (and ultimately became a professional) and came in 3rd on America’s Got Talent last summer. It was a hobby – football was his career – and he became passionate about getting better.

But you don’t have to be great at your hobby. My step-daughter makes magnificent crocheted items that are sometimes artistic masterpieces. Crocheting is a hobby that she enjoyed into mastery. My crocheting hobby is not an artistic endeavor… it’s something to do in the evenings as I listen to music, chat, or watch television.

It may be photography, gardening, or painting… it doesn’t matter really. Try to put perfectionism aside and try your hand at something new; something that interests you, perhaps something that has been a secret desire. You may develop an interest in something that becomes a great little pastime (self-care) or turn it into a professional o r profitable endeavor. It’s as simple as …

Learning a new hobby.

I love love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#281 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Actually, playing music stimulates a part of the brain that is attributed to intelligence and so it may indeed, keep our mind stimulated and healthy. Decide what you’re curious about and set yourself up…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#281

Play an instrument

Are you one of the millions of people who started an instrument as a kid (piano, clarinet, trumpet) and then dropped it like a hot potato when getting better meant practicing all the time? Clearly, a few of us developed into passible musicians – able to tap out a tune here and there – and even fewer became accomplished.

Well, it’s never too late. In fact, it may be easier than ever to get lessons, especially for the piano as the Internet is full of YouTube instructional videos and there are programs/apps that teach step by step.  I imagine there are even digital pianos that have those programs built right into the instrument. A handy headphone port allows for peace and quiet throughout the house while you practice. We aren’t talking Steinway baby grands here but that’s not what beginners start with anyhow.

Maybe the piano isn’t your gig – there’s always the violin, the drums, the flute, or the accordion. An old friend of mine began playing the Bagpipes after watching a parade one New Year’s Day. I’ve seen instruments available at yard sales and pawn shops for pennies on the dollar – sometimes a nice one. There was an old wooden clarinet in a box that I won at auction once… the pads had rotted out and the reeds were too brittle to play but an expert brought that sweet thing up to speed quickly and it had the most beautiful sound. I couldn’t help but wonder if it had crooned through the big band era with the help of an older man who closed his eyes and swayed as he played.

String instruments have always intrigued me. We had a guitar around the house for a long time and I know many people who taught themselves how to play – again, there are thousands of YouTube videos online that will take you step-by-step, chord-by-chord as you learn to maneuver sound from six little strings. Guitars are another thing that are easily and inexpensively acquired to learn… the good stuff becomes your reward after you’ve mastered at least a certain level of skill.

The point is to make music… music makes us happier and making it yourself in a way that sounds appealing can be tremendously satisfying! It’s something you’re never too old to learn. Actually, playing music stimulates a part of the brain that is attributed to intelligence and so it may indeed, keep our mind stimulated and healthy. Decide what you’re curious about and set yourself up a bargain instrument, YouTube, and some patience.

Learn to play an Instrument.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#282 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Not that there isn’t a place for reading that style of book – they’re light and fluffy… perfect if you want a quick, easy solution for fun-in-the sun (sans electronic) entertainment.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#282

Read a ‘beach’ book

Sometimes we just need a break and that’s why we go to the beach and often, when we get there, we read a random book – something easy and relaxing. However, not all of us can get to a beach so my recommendation then, is to let yourself read a ‘beach book’. You know – it’s one of those – sometimes known as ‘junk novels’ – a book without critic acclaim, perhaps not even a solid plot.  It’s one of those easy to read, easy to absorb, and easy to finish books.

Romance Novels are the obvious choice for a lady’s poolside read and the variety exists along the continuum of Nicholas Sparks and Danielle Steele (with solid plots) or to the other end with a good ole fashioned Harlequin Romance type of read that shakes out the storyline in the first forty pages and becomes predictable half way through. Not that there isn’t a place for reading that style of book – they’re light and fluffy… perfect if you want a quick, easy solution for fun-in-the sun (sans electronic) entertainment.

I’ve never known a man to be interested in romance novels – my thoughts about ‘beach books’ for men are similar but oriented more toward spies and zombies. My intent, of course is not to be sexist here as I completely acknowledge that those genres are not gender biased by any means and that there is a man (or many), that I simply have yet to meet that truly gets into a Nora Roberts novel.

So, the season is upon us now with this Memorial Day post and many of us are simply ready for some physical and mental R&R… put down the academic journals, the textbooks, the self-help bibles, and the heavy duty winter reading books that make you think about the world in a new way and pick up something less intense, less thought provoking, and less educational for your outdoor relaxation time…

Read a ‘beach book’.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#283 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

With your mind’s eye… review the memory and all the specifics – noticing each element in great detail. Notice the colors, the sounds, the smells…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#283

Savor a memory

The science of ‘savoring’ is relatively new. It’s a component of Positive Psychology and it has received a fair amount of attention in recent years for its ability to increase feelings of well-being (happiness). The act of savoring is known to most of us. Just sit back and think of the last time you ate something that you exclaimed “was the best thing you’ve ever had!” or the last time you saw “the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen!”… Chances are you savored that moment.

You probably picked out a part of that experience that was pleasurable and focused on it with intensity. You may have completely absorbed yourself in the event, noticing each little pleasant detail with a feeling of delight and/or enjoyment. THAT was the act of savoring.

Now, to engage in this tip, I am suggesting that you choose a pleasant memory. Take yourself back to that time and space – in your mind, your thoughts. Take some time to imagine yourself reliving an experience that brought you peace, delight, or contentment. Breathe in.

With your mind’s eye… review the memory and all the specifics – noticing each element in great detail. Notice the colors, the sounds, the smells, and the textures. Remember the good feelings, try and recreate the way it felt in your body; the smile, the butterflies, the movement.

Remind yourself of the emotions experienced during this pleasant experience; joy, gratitude, love, appreciation, hope, or awe for example. Breathe in again, imagining that you are able to simply inhale emotion of it all again and again – whenever you wish. Take your time and feel it completely. As the sensation fades, recall another memory and begin the process again.

This process – savoring – is gaining popularity for improving symptoms of depression and has been indicated in the immediate improvement of stress responses when completely activated. It is frequently associated with mindfulness but they are different processes.

When you need a little boost or you’re in a pinch and need an immediate positive distraction …

Savor a memory.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#284 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

The first time I grew veggies, I threw a packet of cucumber seeds into a raised bed with shrubbery that ran alongside my home. I didn’t do much to it but it must have been beginner’s luck because that darn thing took off.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#284

Grow Your Own Food

Tis the season. At least in the northern hemisphere. It’s planting time for much of the backyard gardens that take root each summer. Whether you opt for a fancy raised bed with organic soil, a clay pot with a trellis, experiment with hydroponics, or design an ‘upside down’ garden on your patio… growing something you can eat is highly rewarding.

When we grow our own food, we have to step out of ourselves enough to care for something. Unlike my houseplants which get water when they wilt enough to remind me – growing tomatoes on the deck or sowing a zucchini plant in your Azalea bed and tending to it through the fruit (or vegetable) production stage takes some dedicated attention. Water and sunshine mostly; but the right amounts of both. Otherwise, you get a big plant with no fruit or you get a short burst of fruit production and a quickly decaying plant.

There is no shortage of help on the internet to get you started on the method of choice or the proper way to fertilize and nurture your seedlings. There’s organic instructions and tons of advice on which chemicals will keep the critters away. There’s so much advice in fact, that you just need to pick something and go with it…. Journal your results so you know what to do (or not to do) next year when you try again.

The first time I grew veggies, I threw a packet of cucumber seeds into a raised bed with shrubbery that ran alongside my home. I didn’t do much to it but it must have been beginner’s luck because that darn thing took off. It grew in and out, over and around those shrubs and produced so many cucumbers that I couldn’t give them away fast enough. There were so many that I was inspired to learn how to make pickles (I must have had some spare time on my hands). I made sweet pickles, dill pickles, and sliced pickles, and spear pickles. I gave away pickles for two years.

Since then I stick to food I know we will eat an excess of and as the years go by I find that I am inspired differently from year to year. Sometimes it’s only tomatoes and then I try something new. I’ve come to really enjoy growing fresh herbs and then I dry the excess for home produced herbs that I use most often. That’s easy too! Pick something and give it a try…

Grow Your Own Food

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

 

#285 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

And… while after a visit to Amsterdam where bicyclists have the right of way at all times because there are millions of them – really… they are everywhere and as a pedestrian, you are easily overwhelmed. But, we’re not there yet.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#285

Ride a Bike

When was the last time you rode a bike just for fun?

While biking has been a stable pastime for children since the introduction of a miniature tricycle, it seems as if we Americans ditch the bike for 4 wheels and a motor as soon after the age of sixteen as possible. Certainly, the exception is those adults who use bicycles for sport and exercise or those of us who mosey along side streets while on a beach oriented vacation; perhaps taking advantage of dual pedal power on a tandem machine and Some people have converted their primary mode of transportation at least for commuting.

But… when was the last time you just took a leisurely bike ride… just because? Most major cities have made amazing progress in becoming bicycle friendly, offering rideshare stations and dedicated bike lanes. And… after a visit to Amsterdam where bicyclists have the right of way at all times because there are millions of them – really… they are everywhere and as a pedestrian, you may be easily overwhelmed. But, we’re not there yet. In fact, the bike lanes in our cities are mostly open… beckoning us to grab a bicycle and get out there.

I rode my bike as a kid and then didn’t own one again until my 30’s… rode my babies around a bit that that resembled working out too much and so that equipment was donated to a worthy cause. Fast forward 25 years and I’ve taken up bike riding again. It’s different for me because it is purely recreational and fun. It’s not a workout (at least not intentionally), which means that I am often riding a Rail Trail (flat) or just cruising around town a bit. I meander a bit – not in a hurry – just enjoying the fresh air, the breeze across my face, and the scenery that I don’t take in while driving by at 30+ miles per hour. It’s mind time and I have two simple requests for the people who may ride with me. First… don’t push – I ride slow. Second… don’t talk – I am in-a-zone.

Biking can be simple. Do yourself a favor and find a bike share station, put on a helmet, and …

Ride a bike

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.