Us women-who-care types are a driven bunch. In our earnest quest to reduce consumption and save our planet, we've probably pictured ourselves as unwavering frugal demi-gods, turning a make-up free cheek to advertisers with a sense of empowerment, ease and calm.
The reality? Perhaps a little different. But that's no reason to beat yourself up.
Two things: We don't live in a cultural vacuum, and we're human!
In today's material obsessed society, we are surrounded by constant pressures to consume. The 'more is more' mentality is pervasive and clever. Advertisers directly and indirectly flood us with imagery which is designed to manipulate us into believing "I'm not good enough because I don't look like her", or "I'll be happy if only I had this thing".
Dangerously, this ubiquitous messaging is coupled with an age of instant gratification. Fast food at our disposal, the world's knowledge at our fingertips, that new dress only a click away… everything we want, we can have..And we can have it right now.
Ideally, we would be mindful enough to resist the need for anything "instant", take a deep breathe, and stay focused on investing in our deeper goals from which we can reap long-term, more fulfilling benefits. The more well-practiced would turn to a long meditation or bush hike, perhaps.
But this is an emergency; there's no time. Your brain is telling you that you desperately need your happiness hit, and about you're about to click "add to cart." You know you don't need this and you've seen the devastating reality of a world of overconsumption. You're about to lose an internal battle - until you remember this list of instant, earth-friendly happiness boosters that these will take you less time than it would to get from one end of Ikea to the other.
Choose your favourite(s), or for a more personalised emergency mood-boosting experience, make-up your own:
Cuddle a pet
Do you really need an excuse? Well here's one anyway. Snuggling up to one of our furry friends is proven to fulfil social needs, make us happier, and even improve physical health. Like you needed to be told! If (like me) you're currently pet-less, an cute-puppy themed youtube session is an almost-decent substitute.
Cuddle a person.
You know the feeling of being mid-embrace in a firm, heartfelt hug? It's nice right? I bet you're smiling just thinking about it. Turns out hugging can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, and increase levels of the 'love hormone', oxytocin. Speaking of oxytocin, i'm sure you know what else releases this bliss-inducing hormone….
Give Happiness away.
Brightening someone's day is a simple way to feel super chuffed. It doesn't have to be grandiose or time-consuming, just a few thoughtful, kind words uttered, or a small act of kindness. It could be as simple as smiling warmly at a customer in your service industry job, or leaving an "I love you" note for your partner. You'll have not only made another person feel warm and fuzzy, but you'll feel a good dose of wholesome, enduring, hitch-free happiness yourself. The best kind.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."- Aesop
Make your bed (accomplish something small).
Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of the Happiness Project, proclaimed "when I was researching my book on happiness, this was the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over." Why? Because making your bed is an easy, quick way to accomplish something that will benefit your everyday life. It's an act of self-love really; a small everyday, investment in your own happiness that settles our self-doubt and declutters our thoughts. Go on. Make your mum proud.
Aside: My hunch is that a small DIY project would have the same effect!
Blast your favourite song. Dancing compulsory.
This is quite self-explanatory. I can't promise that you won't be embarrassed if caught doing this, but I can promise it's probably a risk worth taking. Because, music, endorphins, mind-body connection, that's why.
If you fancy doing this in an organised, socially acceptable setting, check out the latest (and most fun) dance phenomenon, No Lights No Lycra. Find your nearest class or start one yourself!
1 Million Women is empowering women and girls around the world to lower their impact on the planet. If you love what we do, please support our work by donating a couple of dollars. For the price of a cuppa, you can help us inspire millions more! (click to donate)
Accept & surrender to something you can't change.
Often a source of unhappiness in our lives exists because of something we are resisting. It's understandable that stressors impact us, but fighting against one that is unchangeable is draining, and blocks feelings of love, warmth and joy - all the good things! It only takes a few mindful minutes to go deep and identify some element in our reality that we are actively resisting. Once this is isolated, simply decide to accept - surrender to what is. Enjoy the overwhelming sense of relief which follows.
Plan a bucket-list adventure.
Hitting the shops can give you a buzz, sure, but can it match finally sitting down to plan a grand (or micro) adventure that's been on your bucket list for years?
It's common to feel stuck in our day-today situation, subscribed to the idea that our lives are out of our control. But despite what it seems, the reality is that we are in the driver seat. Try to keep an open mind, and look for opportunities. It doesn't matter if your "adventure" is finally beginning that veggie patch, or going on a round the world trip; and it doesn't matter if your schedule means you've had to plan these 5 years in advance. Just get started - and be ready to greet the rush of ridiculously happy feels headed straight for you.
Phone a friend (or your mum!)
It comes as no surprise that social connections makes us happier. But research also shows us that our closest relationships are the most important. We probably come in to contact with our broader social network daily through work, uni or school, but when was the last time you really, properly connected with your nearest and dearest? As the saying goes, they're only a phone call away!
Have you heard of Earthing? It basically means walking barefoot upon the earth. The practice of earthing as a therapy has been claimed by some to have numerous health benefits due the negative charge of the earth. Whilst the jury is out on these claims, simply getting out in nature is a tried and tested method to feel better. In fact, many of you mentioned 'nature' when we asked you what happiness is. The grounding, calming and humbling effects of connecting with the earth could be just what you need to feel happier, and give you the clarity to see through social pressures to consume.
Look for the love
Love permeates our lives in infinite ways - the challenge is to notice and be grateful for it. Meditate for a moment on the powerful sources of love which exist, such as the unconditional love from our partner, family and close friends. Picture it as a coloured light radiating toward you an engulfing you, if it helps. Next, take a moment to be grateful for the not-so-big, but no less significant, love which is all around us. A stranger smiling at you on the street, a sunset that you happen to catch on the drive home, a mother soothing a child. Just thinking about, and being grateful for, these sources of love is enough to feel rejuvenated, warm and happy!
“Acknowledging the good that you already have is the foundation for all abundance.”- Eckhart Tolle
Read this next: How to live with less and create a 'zero waste' home