Dr. Julie Connor, Director of Youth & Family Ministry

Kids get it. They know how to have fun. Children are masters of letting go of what happened yesterday and beginning each new day with a fresh start. They are delighted with small surprises, special treats, and opportunities to play. Those are lessons big kids need to learn.

Many years ago, I left a job feeling hopeless. I didn’t want to work there anymore – but the work was familiar and I was good at it. My identity at the time was completely tied to my job. I had no idea what was going to do next.

A friend asked, “What do you want to do?” I didn’t know. He asked, “What do you like to do?” I had no idea.

I completely forgot what made me feel happy. I had to relearn how to play.

How much joy you experience is a mindset – it’s a choice. You get to choose the attitude you want to wear today.

One of the easiest ways to shift your attitude and experience greater happinessis to make small positive changes. Try these simple, practical tips to enjoy your life and experience a lot more fun:

Smile before you get out of bed. You may not feel like it. Do it anyway. Find and post pictures of things you enjoy. Leaf through pages of magazines. Find words and pictures that inspire you and made you and make you feel happy (You may want to create a vision board.). Hang them in places where you will see them.

  • Draw. Pick up a pencil and doodle. Grab a crayon (Coloring books for adults are very popular!). Expressing your creativity exercises your right brain.
  • Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Think of 10 things that make you feel grateful. Start a gratitude journal.
  • Take a break. Frequent short breaks during the day boost your energy level. Francesco Cirillo, creator of the Pomodoro Technique, insists that frequent breaks improve your mental agility. Your attention span sharpens when you allow a 5-10 minute breaks for every hour of work.
  • Listen to music.  A large body of research proves that music eases stress, lifts depression, and elevates your mood. Check out the UCOP Spotify Channel for some great songs!
  • Watch a video that makes you feel good. There are many YouTube videos that brighten your day. Search for videos and podcasts that align with words that make you feel happy.
  • Learn how to do something new. Take a class. Watch a video. If you want to learn a new skill, there are many online webinars that can show you how to do it. Check out our list of classes coming up.
  • Spend time with people who think you’re awesome. Reach out to a friend. Or create the support network you deserve.
  • Exercise. Stretch. Take the stairs. Exercise releases dopamine, a chemical in your brain that stimulates feelings of happiness. Go outside and walk around your office building. Walk around the block. Walk your dog. Move your body.
  • Read. When was the last time you read a good book? Need suggestions? Check out our bookstore for some recommendations.
  • Create positive affirmations. Find words or inspiring quotations that uplift you. Put the positive in your affirmation by creating statements of what you want (rather focusing attention on what you don’t want).
  • Practice meditation. Quiet negative thoughts by allowing time to try simple habits of meditation. We have several monthly meditations at Unity Church of Overland Park that you can participate in.
  • Find a hobby. What did you love to do when you were a kid? What hobbies did you abandon when responsibilities filled your plate? Build 15 minutes into your schedule to do something fun.
  • Sing a song. What is your favorite song? Sing in the shower. Sing in the car. Do you need backup singers? Sing along with a tune on the radio.
  • Eat healthy. You feel better when you eat better.
  • Resolve to stop complaining. Try it. For one day.
  • Get enough sleep. Most adults are sleep deprived and need at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night to make sound decisions, increase work performance, and reduce crankiness.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” Fly a kite. Play a game. Jump rope. Remember a good joke. Share it with someone else.

You can choose to be happy – or not. The choice is yours. And you can begin to do something about it. Today. Why not now?

How can you celebrate happiness today?

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