I’m no Pollyanna, but I usually maintain a healthy screen between my personal life and world events. Lately I’ve been reporting on the disturbing happenings in Turkey, and hanging out with people working with Jordan’s Syrian and Palestinian refugees. It’s been tough to keep a happy face. But research shows you will live longer if you are happier.
So today, crack of dawn, I took a walk to Amman’s Abdeli market, an enormous tented street sale where ten bucks can buy you a new wardrobe of mildly used designer clothes plus a week’s worth of fruit and veg. After an hour navigating narrow aisles between the overstuffed stalls, the takeaway is a clear and calm mind.
Got to thinking of other accessible and cheap ways to re-calibrate. Consider these ten free ideas:
1. Write down the simplest (legal and safe) things that give you pleasure. Then do them every week.
2. Get off your ass and move. Green Prophet’s already advised as to how hiking can mend a broken heart. Exercise enhances your state of mind by boosting brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. A simple walk can knock the edge off stress and put new spin on whatever’s bugging you.
3. Jump in cold water, or hop in a cool shower. It increases circulation, minimizes inflammation, and instantly invigorates. While you’re at it, sing a stupid song loudly. Wim Hof tells you to do it.
4. Turn off the TV (and computer, and tablet, and e-reader, and smartphone, and Instagram and Siri and Alexa). They’re hypnotics. You may smirk at the latest YouTube FAIL, or become emotional over horrible newscasts, but your body is immobile and your brain passive. Take frequent technology breaks, and do something else on this list
5. Enjoy nature. Kick off your shoes to touch the grass, sand, soil or water. Take up gardening, even if it’s just a bit of time nurturing apartment-grown herbs.
6. Be a tourist in your own town. Walk a different way to an old destination. Check out the shops you never entered. Go play on the kids’ swings, or read a newspaper in a park. We are creatures of habit, try on new ones.
7. Shut up for a change. Quiet your own mind and really listen, don’t just prepare your rebuttal.Talking less and listening more is bound to improve your communication skills. Listen when you’re alone, to birds, wind in the trees, the sounds of life beyond your ear-buds.
8. Take a nap. Babies all over the world endorse this as a primo way to quell crankiness.
9. Laugh more. Comedy is everywhere, look for the “laugh WITH you”, not “AT you” kind. Surround yourself with funny people. You can go back to YouTube but only if you watch brilliant classics like this.
10. Feel grateful, and express it. No need to go all “Oprah”. Simply run through the stuff you are lucky to have in your life: health, friends, love, a decent haircut. Get in a habit of acknowledging what’s good in your own life. It’ll make a positive difference in how you handle everything else.