Feel Happy Now

Even in tough times, there are easy and free ways to find your happy place


Feel Happy Now

C’mon, get happy–even in tough times, there are easy and free ways to find your happy place

-Carrie Seim

Smiley faceYou know that instant, feel happy now boost you get when you walk out the door with a new haircut, a new dress and a new manicure? Neither do I. It’s been way too long.

How can we get that “just stepped out of a salon” feeling back? The economy is helping us to rediscover that toe-tingling happiness often comes free of charge.

Here, ideas to feel happy now–on the house.

Inside a library

We all know libraries great for catching up on classics and scouting for free copies of new novels and DVDs. But beyond that, libraries are a flint stone for creativity. Wander the stacks, pick up volumes at random and use the title as inspiration for your next art project, “mental vacation,” or recipe. Or bedroom fantasy. Apparently, romance novels are selling like hot cakes right now–libraries are a great place to get the same “happy ending” for free!

Inside a letter
There’s something positively spirit lifting about finding or mailing a hand-addressed envelope. I always think of the Sound of Music lyric: “Brown paper packages, tied up with string.” Those are some of my favorite things!

I recently saw a card tucked in my mailbox with a return address from Wisconsin. I presumed it would be a thank-you note or a shower invitation. Instead, I found this wonderfully unexpected message from my childhood friend Heidi:

“Just a short note to tell you how much I miss your laugh, your wisdom and your honesty. I love you bunches.” Knowing that she’d thought of me out of the blue and taken the time to dash off a quick letter was an instant mood boost.

To make your own sunshine, send a “sunshine box” filled with magazine clippings, quotes and homemade cookies. Or simply sit down and write a little note. You’ll be surprised how the act of writing by hand forces you to slow your mind and connect with yourself, as well as your far-away friend.

Inside Sephora
Where else you can try on mucho makeup for nada dinero? Sephora’s got some of the most friendly, fun and free aisles in town. The associates encourage you to go wild, providing disposable applicators and samples of every product imaginable.

Don’t feel like you have to buy something every time–you’re always welcome to make wish lists for a time when you’re feeling more flush. If you feel truly guilty about feeding from the sample trough–buy something less pricey, like the always classic Rosebud Salve, only $6.

Inside (or outside) an elementary school

You know what will make your cheeks rosier, your smile brighter and your soul happier than any makeup application? Hanging out with a bunch of fifth graders (at least in small doses!).

Volunteering with children (especially if you’re not currently hanging with wee ones every day) gives you an instant happy fix. Their unbridled energy and unfiltered enthusiasm for life is inspiring. And in an era of school budget crisis and understaffed classrooms, this is one way to truly make a difference.

I volunteer with a wonderful organization called Young Storyteller Foundation, which matches aspiring young writers from struggling public schools with adult mentors, who help them craft their own screenplays. These scripts are then performed–exactly as the children wrote them–by professional Hollywood actors. I’ve played everything from a lion to a lost princess to a forgotten toothbrush…and had the time of my life.

But the real joy is the connection the kids make with their mentors and the smiles on their faces as they see their art come to life. How often do we get to witness the moment when someone’s life is forever changed? Volunteering gives you that gift…all the happy you want, free of charge.

What’s your favorite happy place? Do you have a favorite activity that you count on to feel happy now?  Stay tuned for more next week!

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