Three Things You Can Do To Make You Happier

Three Things You Can Do To Make You Happier

1. Write Morning Papers - A morning ritual that I teach my clients is to clear your mind of clutter. When you first wake up in the morning, take ideally fifteen minutes to write down anything that is muddying up your head. Write three pages in an easy no pressure stream of consciousness. Write down any thoughts or feelings that are clogging your brain. This is not refined perfect creative writing. Its musings, lists, to dos, dreams, worries, and sometime just junk. Dump thoughts out on the page the way you dump out the trash. Now your mind is clear and you can accomplish much more in your day. There may be times when you are too busy, but I know that when I am stressed or need to be especially creative I go back to morning pages. I have written three books while doing morning pages.  Screen Writer and Entrepreneur Julia Cameron calls the pages, morning pages and describes the benefits in her book, “The Artists Way.” I am a professional speaker, body language expert, executive life coach and author. I speak around the country to groups of small businesses owners.

2. Breathe Deeply - Breathing deeply can make you feel happier. When you get upset or nervous or just plain stressed out notice your breathing. Right now look at your watch, your cell phone or clock and begin to count the number of times you breathe in and out in one minute. You may notice that even at rest your nervous breathing is faster than the "average" rate of 12 to 14 times a minute (a rate which is already faster than it needs to be). In fact, many of us, without knowing it, habitually "hyperventilate"- that is, we take quick, shallow breaths from the top of our chest. This kind of breathing sharply reduces the level of carbon dioxide in our blood.
This reduced level of carbon dioxide causes the arteries, including the carotid artery going to the brain, to constrict, thus reducing the flow of blood throughout the body. When this occurs, no matter how much oxygen you may breathe into your lungs, your brain and body will experience a shortage of oxygen. The lack of oxygen switches on the sympathetic nervous system - our "freeze, fight or flight reflex." That reflex enabled our ancestors to freeze so they wouldn't be seen or flee from a saber tooth tiger but now it is just making you tense, anxious, and irritable. When you take quick shallow breaths you reduce your ability to think clearly. During an important meeting, date or job interview it may keep you from answering questions quickly and succinctly, and you can be at the mercy of obsessive thoughts and images. You may start thinking, “Oh my gosh, I am going to mess up." "Oh my gosh, I am a failure." "I bet he thinks I am stupid."
We may even stop breathing as we get to the end of each obsessive thought. Some researchers believe that hyperventilation can actually magnify our psychological problems and conflicts, and that chronic hyperventilation is intimately bound up with our anxieties, apprehensions, and fears. One key to feeling youthful is being clear headed, energized and confident. So breathe deeply, from low down in your belly. You can practice breathing more slowly using your diaphragm, belly, rib cage, and lower back in the breathing process. I have been reading and practicing tantric breathing to be more awake to how I breathe and really get inside my body and increase my power. It is amazing how strong and powerful I feel when I take deep belly breaths making a lot of noise as the air fills me up and let out that breath fully and completely in deep releasing sighs. Of course you’re not going to be doing deep, tantric breathing in a job interview, but it could help calm you and clear your energy the night before or in the car before you go into an important meeting. Try it right now. Take four deep belly breaths in on a count of four holding for a count of two and making lots of noise as you sigh deeply out all your breath. Now say. I feel wonderful.

3. Give safe nonthreatening touch to others, so you can receive the benefits of touch by giving to others.

“How about a hug?” - Ask for hugs and give them freely. There are many forms of affection — cuddling, a pat on the shoulder, etc. Find out what kind of affectionate touch the people in your life want and give it to them. At Florida State, though I did not have a doctorate, I was called Dr. Hugs by my students. My nonverbal communication class had more than100 students, so everywhere I went I got a hug. I loved it.

“Thank you” - Touch can be a reward. A gentle touch on the forearm or hand at work or a hug or kiss at home can let people know you appreciate them. Think of all the little things people do for you and reward them with a touch. I was “the napkin girl” when I was very small and after I went around the table folding and putting the napkins at each place setting, I got a hug. As I grew older and set the full table, I still got a verbal thank you, but the hug was absent. Continue touching to say thank you. Heidi Feldman, chief of the Division of General Academic Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh says, “A child is much more likely to try to please a parent who acknowledges his contribution and thoughtful, helping behavior.”

“Tell me more” - I did research in grad school on touching to increase self-disclosure. Sure enough, when you touch someone even briefly in a non-threatening, non-sexual way, they will self-disclose more. This was helpful for me to know and take action as a therapist, but just think how powerful it is to use in your personal relationships. We tend to skate on the surface of our relationships instead on becoming emotionally intimate. Create the intimacy of pillow talk without sex by giving healthy touch to encourage people to share more. There are places and times where “Tell me more” touch works very easily. While cooking or eating dinner with loved ones, you can purposefully touch as you hand each other food, plates and utensils, When riding in a car or golf cart, you are close enough to touch in a non-threatening manner, even if it is something as innocent as passing a drink or handkerchief. In sales or other meeting settings, you can touch when passing out handouts, brochures or samples.

“Let me comfort you” - Sometimes we move away from loved ones who are highly emotional, crying or upset when moving in closer and touching can help them feel better.
There is an exception to this. Therapists are sometimes encouraged not to touch too soon so their patients can stay upset long enough to share all their pain. When my best friend Roy was dying, one of the worst things to deal with was the lack of comforting touch I could get from others. I moved to Atlanta away from my other friends and family and the one person who normally hugged me and gave me the most comfort was Roy. And he needed me to be strong for him. If you know someone who is going through grief and loss give them comforting touch. So often, we get caught up in taboos and avoid the natural inclination to touch. People will step back or arch away if they are uncomfortable with the prospect of your touch, so take the step to try it, knowing you can move out of it if you need to.

“You can do it” - Use touch as a motivator. Touch as you give a work assignment, as you put your child on their first two-wheeler and as you send your sweetie off to his or her first marathon. Touch makes us feel empowered and is a great encourager. Increased self-esteem received through touch can help others follow through a challenging task. I spent a lot of my teenage years working on plays. I remember clearly how we would all hug each other before each play started and would give little back rubs to actors about to go on stage for a difficult part of their performance. The touch fed us and made us strong. Think of all the touch given in a sporting event. It’s not surprising the encouraging touch given to athletes is similar across cultures. We know that a pat on the back moves a person forward.

“Please” - Use touch to ask for help as well. It won’t surprise you to know that pairing touch with a request makes it much more likely the person will do what you ask. Just a brief touch on the forearm, lasting less than a fortieth of a second, can increase your persuasive powers.

“I love you” - It should be very clear to you now we need physical contact to feel acceptance and belonging. We all want to be loved.

Patti Wood, MA - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at