Do you want to feel good?
(entire internet rolls their eyes and groans “dur, ooooooobviously, von bargen.”)
Like almost every other human, I’ve spent most of my waking hours trying to feel good. And like every other human I’ve attempted to feel good by…
* eating many, many bowls of noodles covered in butter and cheese
* buying one million Target sundresses
* binge watching Broad City
* saying snarky things about other people
* drinking $13 cocktails
And while many of those things made me feel good in the moment (#cheeseandcarbs4eva), they didn’t necessarily lead to long-term happiness. They also, despite my best efforts, didn’t lead to long-term feelings of connection, support, accomplishment, or peace.
As part of my never-ending endeavor to figure out what makes me happy, I like to dig down into my happy-making activities. If I know why something makes me happy and which emotion I’m really seeking, I can do other things that will make me feel the same way.If I understand WHICH emotion I'm chasing, I can find more things that make me feel that way. Click To Tweet
Let’s take, for example, my propensity for drinking $13 cocktails with my girlfriends every Friday afternoon.
Do I love these Friday afternoon drinks because …
It feels good to catch up with my friends because I’m seeking connection?
I love doing things at a time of day/week/month when most people are at work; day-drinking makes me feel free?
Eating and drinking outside is The Actual Best?
Being able to buy a $13 cocktail makes me feel successful and accomplished?
All of the above?
When I understand what I’m seeking by spending $40 every Friday, I can find other things that will make me feel that way! Hopefully for less than $40! And if I do decide to continue my cocktail habit, at least I have a deeper understanding of myself, my needs, and the purchases and activities that meet those needs.
So in an effort to help me understand myself better – and maybe save you a lot of time and effort – I’ve compiled the following list of activities/behaviors/mindset shifts that can help us feel the way we want to feel … not matter what that feeling is.
How to feel connected
Go somewhere people are doing things you love to do – a climbing gym, a writing group, a dance studio, a cooking class. Do what you love in the vicinity of other people who love it, too. Talk to them.
Join Nextdoor, the social networking platform for your neighborhood.
Throw a barbecue and invite all your neighbors, even if you’ve never met them before.
Sit with someone new at lunch.
Invite your friends over for a potluck, a clothing swap, or just a marathon movie-viewing session.
Send an email to a friend you’ve been thinking about.
How to feel supported
Tell your partner/best friend/co-worker “I’ve really been struggling with _______, lately. Can I talk to you about it?”
Find an in-person support group. (I joined a MeetUp group for stepmoms and it’s been invaluable!)
Find a Facebook group, a blog, or an online forum for people who are experiencing what you’re experiencing.
Hire a coach or a therapist to guide you through this.
How to feel accomplished
Update your resume and LinkedIn.
Re-read old academic papers you wrote. Be amazed that you once used the term “brain plasticity” correctly and frequently.
Make a To-Done list, a list of all the things you’ve done in the past month or so. Include house projects, professional undertakings, social outings.
Finish one nagging task you’ve been putting off – making that phone call, paying that bill, finally painting the hall.
Think about where you were 10 years ago.
Clean your fridge, purge your closet, look at your bank account statement and cancel all those $7-a-month subscriptions you’re not using any more.
Volunteer your professional skill set. There are so many volunteer opportunities you can do online! Translation services, design, IT development, etc!
How to feel fancy + luxurious
Unearth all those gift cards you haven’t used and spend them, preferably in a frivolous manner. Use the grocery store gift card to buy imported cheese and cloudberries. Use that Target gift card to buy cute underwear or overpriced skincare.
Put on your swankiest outfit and buy one cocktail at your city’s best bar.
Give yourself a great mani/pedi. Or pay someone to give you a great mani/pedi.
By yourself fresh flowers. Cliche? Yes. Effective? SUPER YES.
Get a blow out.
Spend the extra 30 seconds to make your meals beautiful; eat them at the table, on a placemat. Put ice in your water. Drizzle the sour cream prettily into your soup and sprinkle a few almonds on top.
How to feel peaceful
Turn off the radio when you’re driving. Look at the trees, the houses, the people around you.
Drink less caffeine.
Take off your shoes. Put your bare feet in a lake, in dirt, in grass.
Close your eyes. Take 15 deep breaths.
Refuse to argue about a topic that’s not important to you.
Refuse to argue with someone whose opinion you’re not going to change.
How to feel free
Take a different route to work.
Say no to one obligation or invitation that doesn’t interest you.
Go for a wander around a part of the city you’ve never explored. Leave your phone at home.
Pack something new for lunch. Eat it somewhere different.
Take a half day off.
Tell someone what you really think.
Of course, these are things that would make me feel free/supported/accomplished. Your mileage may vary; only you know what’s right for you.
But I want to hear from you! Have you ever tried this approach? Do you understand what feeling you’re chasing when you make decisions with your time and money? What do you do when you want to feel luxurious/free/peaceful?
P.P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!