Happiness starts at home. At least, it should. Even if we work a lot, generally speaking, we spend the larger percentage of our time at home. We sleep there. We eat there. We try to relax there. We spend time with our family, friends, and pets there. So let’s talk about what we can do at home to make ourselves happier,
Focus on what you are good at and let go of what you aren’t as good at
One of the biggest sources of stress in our lives is trying to do things that we just aren’t that good at. Seriously. No one can be good at everything, and yet, in our lives, in our homes, and in our businesses (for those that own their own business), there are just things that need to get done (or things we THINK need to get done), whether we are good at them or not!
But how much time and effort do you WASTE in trying to do things you just aren’t good at or that you plain hate to do? If you think about that, you’ll realize that if you were to use that time and effort in areas that you excelled at (or just loved), wouldn’t your life improve dramatically?
So, what can you do about it? Well, first of all, some of those things probably just plain don’t need to be done. Examine these tasks closely. Why do you think they need to get done? Some tasks DO need to be completed, no matter what, but I’m willing to bet there are some things you do for other reasons that really aren’t that important. Maybe it’s because “that’s something my mother always did,” or “the neighbors might judge me,” or “it’s just something I’ve always done.” If those, or similar thoughts, are the ONLY reasons you can think of for doing a particular task that you hate doing, just stop.
For some tasks, you might be able to find easier alternatives or ways to do them that are better for your skill set. Not good at ironing? Well, buy wash and wear or dry clean only clothes! Hate cooking (but still want real food)? Find a service that sends meals that are easy to prepare, or eat more simple foods, like salads and sandwiches, or get crock-pot recipes where you can just put a bunch of ingredients into a pot, turn it on and leave! Think outside of the box and find new, easier ways to accomplish some of the things you aren’t that good at!
Of course, there are some tasks that really have to be done. In that case, you might also consider the possibility of hiring someone else to do them. Sometimes it really is more cost-effective to hire someone to do a job that you hate to do or aren’t that good at. If you spent that time doing something else that could make (or save) you money, it might make more sense for you to pay someone else to do that particular thing.
Don’t have the extra income to hire someone to do it? What about a trade? Could you find a friend or co-worker that’s particularly good at something you aren’t good at and that might be looking for someone to do something that is in your wheelhouse? If so, you could ask them to swap tasks with you! You can really save valuable time (and aggravation!) by working out those kinds of trades. Why not start asking around? You’ll be amazed at how much your life improves and how much happier you can feel when you start getting rid of tasks you aren’t good at or just plain hate doing!
Simplify and De-Clutter
Create one day a month (or if you are ambitious, do it every week!), where you throw out 10 things that have been cluttering your life. Maybe do it on a Sunday and call it “Simplify Sunday” – or pick a different day and give it your own clever name! Make it a habit.
Frankly, for most people, our lives tend to be too full of STUFF. There’s a tendency to hold on to things that we don’t need and will never use. Specifically, we place altogether too much importance on THINGS. We tend All the spaces in our homes tend to fill up with clutter. We collect papers, knick-knacks, and other objects that have no real value. There are clothes we hang on to that we know we’ll never wear again just because of a vague hope that we’ll be that size again or that they’ll come back into style again… someday.
When we get rid of old stuff we don’t use or don’t need anymore, we give ourselves room to bring in better things. When we regularly purge our lives of outdated, outmoded, and unwanted stuff, we allow ourselves the room to breathe and re-group and prepare for better and better things to come in. This is true physically and energetically! When you clear out physical items, you can see how much more at ease you feel and how many more opportunities arise for better things to enter! Get rid of the physical clutter in your life, and you might find that you get rid of emotional clutter and energy-depleting people and situations, too!
So, think about what you can get rid of, and then do it! Chances are, the local charity or thrift store would be more than delighted to have it (and if not, then maybe it should really just go in the trash!). Rinse and repeat (at least monthly, if not weekly). You’ll feel so much better, and you’ll find yourself feeling much happier without all the extra STUFF cluttering up your world.
Fix the Little Things in Your Home
Walk around your house and identify the small things that need to be fixed or changed – things you’ve just been tolerating – and then make it a point to fix or change at least one thing each day (or tackle bigger projects over multiple days).
There’s that light bulb that burned out a month ago. The shelf that is crammed with all the papers you collect in a day. The cupboard or closet where you can never find what you are looking for. The toilet that doesn’t flush right. The shampoo that doesn’t work right for your hair. Maybe the handle on the sink is broken, or the refrigerator temperature could use an adjustment, or the sponge you wash the dishes with needs to be changed. The little things that don’t work right or that need to be improved, the small annoyances in life – these are the things that irritate and annoy us and take pleasure (and sometimes suck time) out of our lives.
You don’t have to live like that! Start fixing those things! You don’t have to do them all at once. Just start. The first step is identifying what they are. Sometimes we live with unsatisfactory or annoying things for so long that we kind of become blind to them. They still irritate us, but at a less conscious level. So, grab a paper and pencil and do a walkthrough of your home. Make a list of all the little things that annoy you – things that are broken or that could work just a little bit better. Do or change one or two small things every day to make these small improvements.
Got a bigger project? Is your washing machine is broken? Does your bathroom need an entire remodel? Maybe you need to paint or put in new flooring? Break it all into steps, and then start taking those steps, little by little. Don’t have the money for a big job? Figure out how much you need to save, and start putting a little away as often as you can until you can afford it. Any proactive steps you take to fix things in your life – big or small – will improve your life. You will feel a sense of accomplishment with each step you take, with each thing that gets fixed, and you will feel better and lighter and more content as things get better and better in your surroundings.
Clean Out a Closet or Bookshelf
Tackle those areas that just accumulate stuff and then donate GOOD, usable items to a hospital or shelter or to help a cause or an organization that you believe in.
This one goes along with the de-clutter tip, but I thought it deserved its own spotlight. I know that anytime I’ve lived at a place for more than about a year, my closets and bookshelves are the places that end up accumulating all of the things that I generally don’t know where else to put. Closet doors get shut, and papers and books and other little things stack up on any available space on my bookshelves. I forget what is behind the closet door or on the bottom of the stacks. Most of the time, these are things that I don’t need at all. If they can sit around for a year without me going back to them, they certainly aren’t things I need to keep.
It’s kind of strange how accumulating these unneeded and unwanted items can contribute to low-key stress and anxiety. Every time we throw something into the closet or add to the stacks on the shelves, there is a little part of us that sort of shakes our finger at us and says we need to do “something” about the piles.
You probably already know this because you’ve probably already experienced it, but taking time to clean out those collection points can create a sense of relief and accomplishment, which can lead to a feeling of happiness. So, take the time to do this for yourself. I’m often astounded at how quickly these little cleanouts can really be done. I usually just create 3 piles with all of the stuff. 1. Keep 2. Donate 3. Trash. It goes quickly this way. The one thing you need to make sure to do, though, is if you have stuff in the “Keep” pile, you absolutely must find its permanent home. Don’t just throw it back in the closet or on the shelf!
Dealing with the stuff that you “just don’t know what to do with” and making decisions about these items can really give you a sense of accomplishment. Making regular donations to causes you believe in can also contribute to a sense of satisfaction in your life. You can tackle one area every week or every month, and then you can rotate back around. Make it a regular thing, and you’ll soon find that you feel lighter and airier, and you will feel happier!
Hum or Sing a Song
When you are doing mundane things around the house, make it a point to hum or sing a song. Of course, you can do your chores with music going in the background, and you can always sing along (but you’ve really got to belt it out!), but if you want a real treat, hum or sing without the background music.
Honestly, this is one of the simplest ways to bring a little bit more happiness into your life. It sounds a little silly, I guess, but there’s just something about being in a quiet house, going about your business, and humming or singing a little happy tune that brings a smile to your face and a little extra bounce to your step.
When I was young, I often caught my mother doing this while she was cleaning the kitchen after dinner. I guess the house wasn’t even that quiet, but she was alone in the kitchen, and she would just hum to herself as she went about her business. I always felt like she was just in her own little world and finding a little bit of joy while she was there. I followed suit after I had a family of my own, and you know what? It really did sort of create this bubble around me that let me give up on the troubles of the day for just a little while. It made the rest of my evening go better. Overall, it brought a little extra happiness to my life. I think it’s worth trying. If you like to sing, sing out; otherwise, just pick a tune and start humming!
Get a Plant and Take Excellent Care of It
I’ve never had a “green thumb,” and I see people all of the time who say that plants always die in their care. But there’s nothing quite like taking care of a plant and seeing it grow and thrive under your attention to it. Plants can’t speak (obviously), but it’s kind of amazing how they can actually communicate with us! They do it through energy, through their growth, and beauty.
If you are like me, and you have had plants in the past that have withered away under your care, you may think that there is no use in doing this one. I used to feel the same way. But then I thought, what if I got a plant, just one, that was known to be relatively easy to care for, read up on its care, and made sure I had everything I needed to care for it well and made it a point to give it my time and attention? Could I break the cycle? Could I get a plant to thrive in my home under my care?
And I did it! I got myself a chlorophytum comosum, more commonly known as a “spider plant.” These make some of the best and easiest to care for houseplants. I read up on them, I got the right kind of pot, the right kind of soil, and placed it in a spot that would get just enough sunlight. I even bought some plant food for it. Then, I made a point to carve out time in my schedule just for its care. It thrived. It grew and grew. Spider plants are fantastic because they will grow all over the place. It makes you feel like you are super good at plant care! Also, it makes you feel happy because you have been caring for something carefully and deliberately, and the plant almost thanks you by growing and thriving.
This is one of those things that can make your life happier on many levels. First of all, one of the lessons I took from this is that it was okay not to be great at everything, but instead, I could find one thing and get really good at it. I didn’t have to have a house full of plants or become a master gardener, but I could take one thing, spend time and energy, and attention on that one thing and get a positive result. Also, as I said, plants thank you energetically and through their growth and beauty. They have their own life force, and you can feel it while you are spending time nurturing it.
In a way, you might say this is a pretty simple thing to do. And you might even question how it can make your life happier. But I’m telling you, especially if you aren’t a natural at plant care (like me), this one can truly bring some peace, some joy and make your life happier.
Take a Bath Instead of a Shower
Or maybe, just add a bath time once in a while. Either way, taking the time to soak in a tub of warm, possibly bubbly water can really add a little bit of happiness to your life. I know that not everyone has a bathtub, but I’ve been known to ask a friend to borrow their tub once in a while! It may sound strange, but ultimately, if you ask someone you love and trust, I guarantee they won’t mind!
People have different opinions about what makes a good bath. I think it is highly subjective. Everyone has different comfort levels with temperature, smells, soaps, etc. The thing that is important is that you take the bath that you will enjoy!
Some ideas for additives to baths and bathtime to make them more relaxing or more enjoyable:
- Bubble bath
- Bath bomb
- Essential oils
- Epsom salt
- Sea salt
- An inflatable pillow
- A good book
- Fluffy towels
Whatever your idea of the perfect bath is, I recommend doing it at least every once in a while. It can be an easy way to add just a little bit of relaxation and happiness to your life!
Stop Reading/Watching the News
I realize this one is kind of a controversial one. I mean, the world is moving pretty fast, and we feel like we must keep up in some way. We have to pay attention, or we might miss something important. Plus, with social media and everything else going on, you almost can’t get away from the news.
There are a couple of ways to handle this. I mean, I’m one of those people that feels like I have to keep up with what is happening in the world. But, when I get too obsessed with reading or watching the news, it affects my stress levels and my happiness levels. So, I’ve tried to handle this in different ways. Maybe one of them will work for you, too!
First of all, one thing that I remind myself of on a regular basis is that, in the larger sense, there is very little going on outside of my little world that I can make a real impact on. I remind myself that my personal power lies in what I can do in my most immediate world. I’m not a politician, a scientist, or in a highly public position. I can’t effect change on a large scale. So, keeping up with every twist and turn, with every nuance of the larger issues, is not something I need to do. My power lies in what I am able to do within my immediate environment. I can only effect change by starting within, working to make myself the best possible me that I can be, and doing things to create positive waves, starting with those people immediately around me or within the reach of my writing or speaking, or social media presence. Keeping this in mind helps me to be less obsessed with the news overall.
When I find myself starting to spend too much time reading or watching the news, I will often self-impose a phone app or computer app restriction. I find other things to do to fill the time that I would normally spend consuming news. I pick games that will keep me interested on my phone. I spend more time writing or reading books. I listen to my favorite non-news-related podcasts or watch non-news-related programs. I schedule more time to chat with my friends and loved ones and take breaks by taking mini-walks or playing with my dogs.
I often fill my need to keep up with the news in alternative ways. Sometimes, I just flip through headlines and try not to click on more than one or two actual news stories. Sometimes, I get my political news through podcasts with at least some more upbeat spins. With certain types of news that I know will affect me more greatly, I either allow someone to tell me the main points or flat-out refuse to consume any news about those subjects.
On the one hand, I think it is actually kind of important to stay informed, but I think putting the news into perspective and not allowing ourselves to be completely consumed by it is a much healthier thing to do. Stop reading or watching the news in whatever way works best for you, and I feel confident that you will find yourself enjoying a much happier life! The big things continue whether you are paying attention to them or not. They can do without your attention for at least some of the time!
Make a Cup of Tea; Enjoy Drinking It
Making time to simply enjoy a beverage, sipping it slowly while just relaxing, is one of the easiest and simplest things you can do to bring a little bit more happiness into your life. I personally find that making a warm beverage, like tea or coffee or even hot chocolate, and then finding something pleasurable to do while I sip the drink is one of the most enjoyable ways to take a break from all of the noise, chaos, and confusion of the day. Of course, not everyone likes hot beverages, and in the summer, it can be a more difficult choice to make, so it’s perfectly okay to pick any beverage that you particularly enjoy.
The thing about this tip is that you have to actually carve out a little bit of time to actually sit and enjoy the beverage you are drinking. In our world today, we almost always have a drink with us anywhere we are, doing almost anything we do. To-go cups, water bottles, travel mugs, etc, etc… we almost never just fix ourselves a nice beverage in a nice, regular mug, glass, or what have you, and simply enjoy drinking it. Sit inside in a comfy chair, at your table, or sit outside or wherever you feel relaxed, and just enjoy the experience of consuming your tasty beverage.
I’m also not talking about alcoholic beverages. That may be the one type of drink in our society that we stop somewhere to just sit and drink. If you like alcohol, then that is fine. But what I’m talking about with this tip is more of a mindfulness exercise. Or a slow down and enjoy the moment thing to do. Alcohol changes our reactions, our chemistry, and so on, so it would kind of interfere with the purpose of doing this one. So, try doing this with some form of non-alcoholic beverage, and see what you think.
I just don’t think we slow down enough to enjoy the moment. To enjoy what we’re doing. To pay attention to the small things. Fixing yourself a nice cup of tea or some other beverage that you love and then taking the time to really enjoy drinking it, well, you’ll see. It can contribute to making your life happier!
Happiness Begins at Home
As I said in the beginning, I really do think that happiness begins at home. There are so many things we can do to make our living environment peaceful and a more comfortable and happy place to be. There are so many things we can do with ourselves, our bodies, and our minds, to make where we live just a little bit happier, too. The ideas I have listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. I hope you try some of them, and if you do, I hope you let me know how it went for you. I also always appreciate your ideas and additions to these lists, so feel free to contact me to let me know!