January 21, 2011

9 + 1 Things YOU Can Do to Be Happy in the Next 30 Minutes

What would it take for you to be happier? How long do you think it would take?

In a day and age where many feel entitled to instant gratification, it’s easy to become quickly unhappy when you don’t get what you want, right away – think about the last time your smart phone took a few seconds longer to load your favorite application, or remember the time when you sat on the tarmac an extra hour because of engine problems with the plane? Take a deep breath and read on… according to Gretchen Rubin, who wrote this Real Simple article, feeling better ASAP is a lot simpler than you may think:

“Being happier doesn't have to be a long-term ambition. You can start right now. In the next 30 minutes, tackle as many of the following suggestions as possible. Not only will these tasks themselves increase your happiness, but the mere fact that you've achieved some concrete goals will boost your mood.”

1. Raise your activity level. Pump up your energy. If you're on the phone, stand up and pace. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Put more energy into your voice. Take a brisk 10-minute walk. Even better...

2. Take a walk outside. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood. For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning.

3. Reach out. Send an e-mail to a friend you haven't talked to in a while, or reach out to someone new. Having close bonds with other people is one of the most important keys to happiness. When you act in a friendly way, not only will others feel friendlier toward you, but you'll also strengthen your feelings of friendliness for other people.

4. Rid yourself of a nagging task. Deal with that insurance problem, purchase something you need, or make that long-postponed appointment with the dentist. Crossing an irksome chore off your to-do list will give you a rush of elation.

5. Create a more serene environment. Outer order contributes to inner peace, so spend some time organizing bills and tackling the piles in the kitchen. A large stack of little tasks can feel overwhelming, but often just a few minutes of work can make a sizable dent. Set the timer for 10 minutes and see what you can do.

6. Do a good deed. Introduce two people by e-mail, take a minute to pass along useful information, or deliver some gratifying praise. In fact, you can also...

7. Save someone's life. Sign up to be an organ donor, and remember to tell your family about your decision. Do good, feel good―it really works!

8. Act happy. Fake it 'til you feel it. Research shows that even an artificially induced smile boosts your mood. And if you're smiling, other people will perceive you as being friendlier and more approachable.

9. Learn something new. Think of a subject that you wish you knew more about and spend 15 minutes on the Internet reading about it, or go to a bookstore and buy a book about it. But be honest! Pick a topic that really interests you, not something you think you "should" or "need to" learn about.
I’ve decided to add a plus 1, because this always makes me feel better…

# 10. Laugh like crazy – do it now – your co-workers or people around you will laugh or scoff at you, which will in turn, make you laugh and feel better!

I challenge you to do one of these things for yourself – or someone else -- and post a comment below this blog and tell us what you’ve done. Still not convinced? Rubin ends on this happy note:

“Some people worry that wanting to be happier is a selfish goal, but in fact, research shows that happier people are more sociable, likable, healthy, and productive -- and they're more inclined to help other people. By working to boost your own happiness, you're making other people happier, too.”

By following up on one of these suggestions, you may not achieve your long-term happiness goal; however, it may make getting there a little more bearable. So if your application is still loading, smile at someone nearby and if you’re on the tarmac, make a new friend!


  1. I reached out to an old friend that I hadn't talked to since last summer and I happened to connect during a difficult time for him. Needless to say, it was good to catch up. I was able to get him to participate in my project, which will hopefully get his mind off of the bad stuff, even just for a few moments.

  2. We've been so lucky to have gorgeous weather in the Bay Area this week, it's an absolute must to step outside for at least ten minutes to get a little sun and take in the crystal clear blue sky. Can't help but get a smile on my face. Thanks for the simple reminders on how to bring joy to your life every day.

  3. After reading this, I took a walk, came back to my office, and did some of the lingering tasks that needed doing. Thanks for the recommendations. I always need to keep a few of these in mind.

  4. I like the walk idea. As public accountants have working long hours during busy season, this little break is incredibly important. I typically pull my staffs and seniors one at a time for 5 minute increments and just ask them to go for a walk with me. Then we chat about how they're doing overall. I've gotten feedback about this and everyone enjoys the much needed break. It also builds for a stronger team.

    Sarah, we are very lucky for the past week. The weather is making it up for us for horrid cold 2 weeks prior. :D

  5. I love these ideas, and need to remember them when I get down! Often times my life becomes overwhelming, and I forget to take that deep breath and tackle my work one small piece at at time.
    Yesterday it was so nice outside, I went into my back yard and just basked in the sunlight and stared at the sky...a jet flying by with streams of smoke, seagulls flying around... made me happy to just appreciate life and nature.
    Great blog Toan :)