10 Life Hacks For Happiness

Hack 1 – Spread The Road Love.

You’ve heard of road rage, well here is the antidote. Today is Be Kind To A Pedestrian Day. If you are already on foot, a little eye contact and gentle smile will work wonders.

If you are in a car, you are in a particularly powerful position, try slowing down early for someone crossing, smiling as you do so. They can enjoy crossing without fear.

Hack 2 – Do No Harm.

You can’t change the past, but you can resolve never, ever, to hurt anyone. If you ever get to register the pain you caused, it will hurt you too. If you don’t get to register the pain you caused, it will have hardened you. A hardening to pain can lead to loneliness. Oh, and regarding those hurtful things you may already regret? Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. The only thing you can do is go forward.

Hack 3 – Reach Out.

When you reach the end of your tether, sometimes someone can help you find the beginning of it again. Call the Samaritans, phone a friend.

Hack 4 – Don’t Fall For The Marketing.

Adverts are designed to make you dissatisfied with your lot in order that you buy the product to fill the void they’ve created.

There are some great solutions, including subvertising where you alter the adverts or billboards to convey a happier, or more accurate message.

This image was altered on Photoshop to include lyrics from the cartoon Daria, by dope-sic-grrrl (Bethany Eowyn) – click image to see more of her work

For those less willing to get deep down and dirty with imagery: training yourself to spot the absurdity of the claims made in adverts can help keep a smile on your face.

I recently saw an advert for Pepsi showing a pint glass full of cola with loads of ice. There was so much ice that the drink looked watered down at the top of the glass, the slogan read ‘Tastes as good as it looks’ – it looked watery, I guess it must have tasted the same.

Another advert encourages you to buy your wife diamonds, threatening ‘Why don’t you flirt with your wife, other men do’. The moral position of the diamond industry is often questionable. The logic of encouraging men to spend more time working (away from their loved ones) to encourage loving relationships is deeply flawed. Don’t fall for the hype. Spot the absurdity.

On a different (spirit) level, a Jewsons lorry just drove past me carrying the slogan ‘You are never far from your local Jewsons’. By definition, you are never far from your local anything.

The advertiser’s job is to extract money from you, they often extract happiness too. They also turn public spaces into corporate ones. Read their messages and laugh at their efforts. They’re bright, but not that bright.

Hack 5 – Communicate With Love.

Communicate something with love. If this is outside your comfort zone, give some flowers, a potted plant, make a cup of tea, take some premium fruit along, offer to help carry something, tell someone you like their idea.

Women and girls get told when they look pretty, try telling them instead when you like their ideas. Listen to them and tell them you like they way they think.

Remember, no can be said as nicely as yes.

Hack 6 – Dance.

When on hold, pop your mobile onto speaker phone and dance like nobody’s watching, this works particularly well in a group. The frequent reminders will be an interuption and when the operator finally speaks you can all groan (and laugh out loud).

Alternately, or in addition, finish the call with ‘Have a good shift’, almost always the person you are speaking to will respond with ‘You too’ and you can imagine them cringing a little as they realise you are probably not at work like they are. Be nice to call center staff you’ll often achieve more.

Hack 7 – Live From Now.

Live from now, you cannot change the past and most of the future is beyond your control. Keep waking up. If you have a violent history stop from today. Put in place health and safety measures such as ten minute cooling off periods when you get heated. Go for a walk.

If you’ve not been true to yourself in the past, perhaps been too compliant, keep a diary. Mark out days off, days with friends and family. Mark when you’ll be unavailable because something nice is happening. When asked to commit to something look in your diary and feel more comfortable saying “I can’t, I have something on that day”.

You don’t have to give a reason. In fact, it’s better not to give a reason because if you do, then the person asking can attempt to ‘solve’ the ‘problem’ that is stopping you from saying yes! You can say no even if nothing is marked at the allotted time, it’s perfectly reasonable to want the day off before or after a big event.

You don’t have to do anything

You don’t have to do anything

You don’t have to do anything

The universe will happen on its own

Eddie Chilvers

Hack 8 – Edit Content. 

Become your own news editor or take a break from the news. You probably can’t change the news and the news probably won’t make you happy.

It’s good to be well informed, but the news will still be there tomorrow.

The organisations that publish news often have an agenda, such as newspapers which come from an ideological perspective, or supposedly ‘neutral’ organisations, such as the BBC, which will edit according to internal and external forces (such as pressure from newspapers, who would otherwise criticise them). 

Newspapers are nearly totally controlled by millionaires who want you to focus your discontent upon your fellow humans, rather than the root causes of injustice. Knock them on the head for a bit and save money at the same time.

Contemplate the oddness of regular news bulletins on BBC 6 Music, for example. Why does an explicitly music channel have to have news? Why should we all need to know what the ‘official’ position is on world affairs when implicitly what we want is to hear music?

Taking news from different sources, particularly foreign sources, will give you a different perspective on what’s important. You’ll hear who is saying what which will make you feel more in control, but again, probably won’t make you feel happy.

If you are a news junky (like me) try taking a break, look the other way once in awhile, don’t read the headlines, turn the radio off, pick up a novel, play music from your hard drive.

Limit your news consumption to times of day when you tend to feel more mentally tough. If I’m still awake in the early hours I can find news upsetting.

Hack 9 – Eat Well.

Pack something good for lunch. A ripe avocado, cherries, a good sandwich. When you are packing your lunch box, you are packing a little parcel of love.

If overeating is a coping strategy you use, pack lots of good stuff that you are allowed without guilt, a crunchy salad, oatcakes, a little smoked fish, whatever is on your list that turns you on, rather than turns you off.

Open your lunch and thank yourself for the love you have prepared for yourself. You might find pleasure in packing a lunch for someone else, the two of you could take turns (opening a packed lunch someone has made for you is a real delight).

Hack 10 – The Best Things In Life Are Free.

Stuck for present ideas? Short of cash?

This year my son is getting a similar present to one I gave my daughter some years ago. It costs zero money and she absolutely loved it.

I call it a ‘Daddy Cheque Book’, but it will work with any friend or relative.

Here are some real life examples (please don’t tell my son).

  1. I promise to cycle with you to a destination of your choice. (Please Note: destination must be reachable by bike). (x2)
  2. I promise to read you a book of your choice (Please Note: may need to be cashed in installments). (x2)
  3. I promise to stop moaning, RIGHT NOW. (x3)
  4. I promise a piggy back (Please Note: may not be cashed if risk of injury). (x2)
  5. I promise a meal of your choice (Please Note: may require up to six days planning ahead). (x2)
  6. I promise to drive you to and from a friends house to play.
  7. I promise to draw you a picture of a dinosaur
  8. You get the idea.

This present can be made in half an hour and gives the recipient real power – when they cash the cheque you can remember the promise, and smile.

At that moment you have a planned an opportunity to come away from day-to-day distractions back to what really matters. A moment to hand over the reigns and to reconnect with your loved ones.

Make the cheques free (or cheap) to fulfill, so money is never an issue, only love and a little time.

Make the cheque book by hand, in my daughter’s words ‘it meant a lot to me that you sewed it together yourself’ – this was a book literally made with ripped pieces of A4 paper, for free, on Christmas Eve.

It brought happiness to both of us.


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