Try these small things to enrich your life and be happier.
Turn off your smartphone
Admittedly, this is probably the most difficult thing on this list. I’m as addicted to her cell phone as the next person, but even I get tired of constantly reaching for it, as if it were a buoy in the ocean. You should switch your cells off (or at least go airplane mode) for when you’re hanging out with friends, having dinner with your partner, or when you’re busy at work.
It’s just better for the soul to not be constantly thinking about your Twitter feed and whether or not your sister Instagrammed your vacation photo yet. Turning your cell off gives priority to the real things happening right in front of you, in real time. It reminds you to live your life, #nofilter.
On weekends, pick a place close to your neighborhood and explore. Whether it’s a hike, having brunch at a new place, taking photos along a country road, or having a mini road trip, these small exploration trips remind you to stay spontaneous, to remain connected with your surroundings, and to change up your routine. No one likes to do the same things all the time, but we forget that a little bit of adventurousness and spontaneity can change your outlook and you’ll have the opportunity for new experiences.
Make time for family get-togethers
Your family isn’t going anywhere. Instead of texting your mom and calling your grandparents, arrange one day a month (or more!) for you all to get together and bond. Prepare a family meal in your childhood home, listen to your grandparents’ stories and wisdom, and spend the day getting to know the people you came from. It’s much more enriching than words on a smartphone screen.
Read a new, difficult book
We don’t get anywhere in life if we don’t challenge ourselves. Pick a book of history, or an old classic you’ve always been intimidated by. Read an actual book—you know, the ones with pages. Physical books are a more enriching experience because print books are tangible, giving you a real connection with the story without a digital divide. And studies have shown that people who read print books over e-readers enjoy reading more and remember more of the story.
Have a fancy night on the town
Get all dressed to the nines, get a group of friends together and do the thing right! Do cocktails at a fancy hotel, then dinner at a restaurant you never thought you could afford, and pamper yourself. While it’s important to sacrifice some luxuries, there’s no reason not to indulge your luxurious fantasies every once in a while. It’ll be a new experience and something to look forward to, and something to experience with your close friends.
And no, I don’t mean stream Netflix until the early hours, either. I mean, literally do nothing. Play with your pet, walk outside, sip coffee on your porch, lie down on a beach chair in the sun, stare off into the distance. It’s a less intense form of meditation that lets time stand still for a while, and lets you recharge those batteries and feel at peace with the world.
Be randomly kind to others
There’s nothing better than being the recipient of some small, random act of kindness, whether it’s from a stranger or a good friend. Buy a trinket for a pal just because you’re thinking of them, give up your seat for another person for no good reason, tell someone you love their outfit/hair/shoes, and watch their face light up.
Kindness is contagious, and gratitude builds onto itself, making you a happier person and making those around you happier, too.
Volunteering anywhere always sort of gave me the heebie-jeebies because it means being in situations of poverty or ill health and it makes me uncomfortable and sad. But it is also a rewarding experience, one that will make you a more empathetic, compassionate person, and you’ll learn just how much of a difference you can make in the lives of others. Even if it’s helping build a house on a weekend, you’ve contributed to the well-being of others. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Pick something from your bucket list and do it this year
Don’t wait until you lose your nerve: go skydiving this year. We all have bucket lists, but we all figure we’ll have plenty of time to do that stuff, and so we put it off. Don’t put it off, because one day your life may change and you may not get a chance. Book your flight to Paris, and don’t let that annoying inner voice, the one that has a million excuses, rule your life.
Instead of letting old iPhone photos languish in your cloud and hide on your news feed, pick your favorite photos from each year and build a digital photobook that you can print and keep. We all love looking at old school yearbooks and flipping through old photo albums.
We live in a digital world, but we take so many photos that none of us see when they’re five months deep in our camera roll. Take them out of digital hiding and create a tangible photobook, a memory of your life that will exist outside pixels.
Write letters to the people you love
Another kindness gesture, writing letters to people shows how much you care. It requires more effort than a text saying “What’s up, wanna hang?” and it’s definitely exciting to receive mail, more exciting than email. Start a snail mail chain with your friends and family and see how much closer you’ll get to them. It’s an intimate experience.