I’m a weird guy. I do odd things that other people think are strange. Do you want to be like me?
You don’t have to, of course. You can choose to ‘fit in’ with the masses. But I’ve noticed something about those people. They don’t seem to smile a lot.
Maybe they’re happy on the inside. Or perhaps the fear of looking ‘weird’ makes them too afraid to do what’ll bring true joy.
I suppose there’s no way of knowing for sure. But I do know this. I’m happy pretty much all the time.
That’s why I decided to publish this list of odd habits that make me weirdly happy. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try some for yourself. Either way, don’t knock ’em until you’ve tried ‘em.
1. Waking up stupidly early
There’s something so satisfying about waking up before the sun rises. It feels like you’re getting a headstart on the rest of the world.
A Gary Vaynerchuk ‘work until you drop’ lifestyle isn’t the secret to happiness, but the morning hours seem to be best for working on a side-hustle. You’ll be free of distractions and devoid of excuses to not put the hours in.
During my final year in London, I woke up two hours earlier than necessary. The first hour was spent writing my book. The second hour was for fitness training. No matter what happened afterwards, I’d go to sleep knowing the day hadn’t been wasted.
Morning workouts are better for burning fat and speeding up your metabolism. They’ll give you an early boost of endorphins to go with your proud sense of accomplishment. Plus, you don’t have to spend all day dreading your after-work gym session.
You’ll have to go to bed early to stop yourself from feeling run down, but your body will quickly adapt if you have a relaxing nighttime routine. The key is not to stimulate yourself with gadgets or sugary snacks an hour before bedtime.
2. A freezing cold shower
This will make you more alert and ready to start your day, but the happiness benefits extend beyond that.
Science suggests that immersing yourself in cold water will:
- release feel-good endorphins, including norepinephrine (a stress reliever);
- relieve symptoms of depression;
- improve your circulation and immune system.
However, the greatest benefit of daily cold showers is that they’ll teach you to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. For the first week, they’ll absolutely suck, but you’ll dive in and realize you’re strong enough to get through it. The more you do this, the more you’ll find the bravery to do other scary things that are good for you.
3. Singing along to cheesy pop music
My music taste is mostly popular with the cool kids, but the girl band playlist on my Deezer would make them shun me. This playlist helps me remember that life isn’t so serious. We’re all silly humans who love these silly songs deep down.
When I’m feeling sad or anxious, I’ll set it on shuffle and force myself to sing along. My mood is usually lifted by the first chorus.
Bonus points if you try this in public, by the way. This’ll train you to stop caring what other people think, which is a brilliant quality for your day-to-day happiness.
Meditation is recommended by every self-improvement guru, but it’s still a weird thing to do. The uninitiated might still wonder what’s the point of sitting still and thinking of nothing.
The point is to train yourself to remain in the present moment instead of being stuck in your thoughts. This can stop you from dwelling on past mistakes or stressing about future problems.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
If you’re new to the idea of meditation, try downloading an app to help you. Headspace and Calm are my favorites.
5. Complimenting strangers
Spreading compliments makes the world a happier place. It can make another person’s day. Men receive compliments so rarely that you might make their year. Plus, you’ll feel better when you see their face light up.
Complimenting strangers is a great way to overcome social anxiety, and one of the best exercises for your mental health. If you’re an anxious person, your first few compliments might make you cringe. Eventually, it becomes natural and fun.
When your compliment is genuine and there’s no underlying motive, most people appreciate it. If someone doesn’t take your compliment well, you’ll realize that’s not the end of the world either.
6. Tipping awesome street performers
There are a lot of buskers in London. They add to the magic of the city. An artistic world is a happy world.
If they impress me, I’ll tip whatever I can afford. These people are following their dreams and it feels good to support that.
If you’re not lucky enough to experience street performers, donate to digital creators. At the very least, smash the ‘Like’, ‘Share’ and ‘Comment’ buttons. That doesn’t cost a penny but it can make a big difference. Donating to charities or tipping the workers who serve you throughout the day can also make you feel great.
It’s a social convention in most cultures to ask “how are you?”. Most people do it without thinking. Employees in customer service will say it hundreds of times per day.
If you say “good” or “fine”, the world keeps turning with you both on autopilot. I prefer to add some extra enthusiasm.
“I’m over the moon.”
“I’m feeling both incredible and stupendous.”
“Honestly, today I’m feeling invincible.”
This is a great way to wake employees from the monotony of their jobs. You’ll see it on their faces. The cheerful ones will ask why you’re feeling so great. Now, you’re in an exciting and positive conversation. This provides you with a great opportunity to compliment a stranger.
If they don’t ask how’s it going, you can still add some enthusiasm to your parting comments. I like to say “you’ve been really helpful”.
8. Remembering pain
My most painful moment was dislocating my shoulder. When lying in the hospital bed unable to move my right arm, I pondered over what I’d give to fix this problem. The answer was: every penny in my bank account. Thankfully, in England, they pop it back in for free!
Our health is the most important factor in our lives, yet it’s one that most of us take for granted. When I cast my mind back to that moment in the hospital bed, it reminds me to be grateful for the little things.
9. Petting cute cats and dogs
Petting cats and dogs reduces stress, boosts oxytocin and alleviates the symptoms of depression.
Pets give unconditional love that we can only otherwise expect from our parents, so why not take advantage of that with a friendly pat on the head? Most of them seem to appreciate the gesture.
10. Writing on Medium
Medium is my spot for writing without filters. I try to write articles that’ll improve other people’s lives.
If I publish something impactful, it feels like a worthwhile day. While most people get their dopamine hits from scrolling TikTok, Instagram or ‘The Hub’, I get mine from checking the Medium Stats page. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make a full-time living writing here soon. If you have an important message to share or advice to give, Medium is a great platform for that.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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