If you’re leading life in the fast lane, or even just the busy lane, there are a lot of things you might be missing out on. Or think you just don’t have time for.
Make time to do or say the following things more often. You won’t be sorry and they will all make you feel better instantly.
• Give or receive a cuddle.
Have you hugged your friend, your partner, your pet or your child today? Did you stand still long enough for them to give you a hug? We are social creatures and we all need this contact a lot more than we think. Give hugs, and you will truly receive them.
• Appreciate your food.
Food sustains us, and much of it is downright delicious. But so often we eat while we are doing other things, such as driving or watching TV, or working at our desks. Take a few minutes to savour the taste of your lovely sandwich or the excellent cup of coffee. It’s one of life’s pleasures and appreciating your food doesn’t have to be restricted to weekends or dinners at fancy restaurants.
• Phone a friend or relative.
It takes a few minutes, and could make someone’s day. Phone just to ask how they are and to tell them you’ve been thinking of them. Everyone likes to be remembered. It doesn’t have to take more than five minutes. If you don’t have time for a long chat, say so, but do pick up the phone. Next time someone will give you a call when you really need it.
• Say you’re not in a hurry when you aren’t.
We are often racing against time to get things done. But on the one day when you are not, say so to the cashier who is getting into a panic, because she has to change the paper roll in the till. Or let someone go in front of you at the queue and mention that you have the time. Or let the person with the screeching kitty go ahead of you at the vet and say you can wait. People are always pleasantly surprised and grateful and the good feelings rub off.
• Point out something beautiful.
Be conscious of the pretty things around you – the neighbour’s tree, the sunset, an old couple holding hands, the flowers growing by the side of the highway. Appreciate them actively, and point them out to people so that they can be conscious of them too. Take the time to look at these and appreciate them.
• Tell someone they’re good at their job.
There are few more pleasing things in life than watching someone do their job really well. This can be a street sweeper, an electricity meter reader, an ice cream seller, or a sales manager – in short, anyone who does what they have to do with a deft and sure touch, and who is friendly while doing it. Tell them that you’ve noticed. They will never forget it.
• Say thank you to your child’s teacher.
A good teacher is a special person indeed. He/she is a substitute parent to a large group of children, which includes yours. And believe me, their rewards are certainly not financial. Say thank you to them often if they do a great job.
• Give something useful to a homeless person.
And this is probably not cash, even though it might be the easiest. Food, a blanket, a jersey, even just a friendly smile. Homeless people are often invisible to others who just see them as a nuisance. Acknowledge that person, and if you can, give them something that might make their lives easier even if it is just for the day. Being homeless is tough, and being ignored makes it even tougher.
• Curiosity is good.
If you come across something interesting, take the time to go and find out more about it. Tell others what you have discovered. Interested people are interesting. Bored people are boring.
• Focus on the one positive thing.
If you walk into someone’s new flat and you can see 10 things that need fixing, focus and comment on the one positive thing, such as the nice curtains, or the pretty view, or whatever. People mostly know when things are wrong, but they can’t always fix them. Also, in public places, don’t zone in on the one thing that is wrong. It makes everyone feel tense and somehow responsible, especially if they can’t do something about it. And the negativity spoils the atmosphere for everyone.
• Listen instead of talking.
There is a big difference between listening and waiting to talk. Listening properly to someone (and remembering what they have said to you) is the biggest compliment you can pay them. If you listen properly, you will never be lost for words when it comes to your turn to speak. And a good listener who doesn’t pass judgement will also never be short of friends.
• Be actively grateful.
It sounds cheesy, but listing the things you are grateful for, helps to focus your attention on the positive things in your life. Concentrating on the negative and giving it too much airtime in your head can lead to a vortex of bitterness. Once you’re caught in that spiral, all the good things become invisible, and you take them for granted.