Living Happier with Nataly: 5 Ways to Deal with a Really Bad Day

One of the most common questions I get is whether I am always happy. You know, I am the CEO of a company called Happier, with a mission to help people be happier and healthier in their daily lives. I guess the natural conclusion would be that I am generally happy all the time.

Well, that’s not the case. Not at all actually. I get anxious, I get stressed, I get down, I have bad days. I don’t think of happiness as some permanent state; in fact, searching for this nirvana state made me insanely miserable and led me to create Happier, but that’s a whole other story. So I don’t think having bad days makes me happy or unhappy generally — it’s just the reality of life and true for every single person I know.

I do, however, try not to let bad days fully own me. When a day is going off the rails early on or I get up feeling UGH, I try to do a few things to avoid it spiraling into a really bad day. This doesn’t always work and you know what, from time to time I think we are all entitled to have a really no good, very bad day. But here are some of my go-to strategies for turning a bad day slightly happier:

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  • Eat something awesome first thing in the morning. Food is a huge part of who we are and it’s a huge part of how we feel. Research also shows that how we feel in the morning affects our mood throughout the day. When I am having a really rough day I try to eat what I enjoy, but make it something strong and energizing (vs. you know, downing scoops of ice cream, which I enjoy, but which would do little to give me the energy I need.) The other day I was having a rough morning so I took a detour on my work commute to grab my favorite egg sandwich and a strong coffee. It wasn’t a day savior, but my strong and filling breakfast helped me get the morning started.
  • Make a plan to do something you absolutely love. Research shows that having something to look forward to makes you happier. So on a rough day I try to make a plan to do something I like. I can’t always do it the same day, but having it in my calendar gives me something to look forward to: a yoga class, lunch with a friend, anything at all, as long as it’s something I really enjoy doing.
  • Do something to make progress, however small. One of the things I hate about really tough days is they feel REALLY long and I feel like I am stuck in them. But just saying OK, let’s get a lot done today and work through the bad day isn’t enough — at least not for me. So I try to tackle some really small tasks that make me feel like I am making progress: organize my desk, clean up our office fridge (the Happier team I am certain thinks odd things about me when I do this), write an email I’ve been putting off, anything that gets a specific small task completed. Research shows that feeling productive makes us happier and I can vouch for this.
  • Over-share gratitude. I share a few happy moments in Happier every day (well, obviously!) The other day a friend texted me to say: “Whoa, you are having an awesome day — just saw like 7 happy moments from you! Keep smiling.” Here’s the thing: I was actually having a really rough day. But the rule I have for myself is that on those day I look for small happy moments even harder than usual and I try to find them everywhere — at work, in my routine, on my commute, in something I see around me. According to numerous studies, gratitude leads to feeling happier and not the other way around, so this is my most trusted and most helpful “bad day gone happier” strategy.

I’d love to hear what you do when you’re having a bad day!

Living Happier with Nataly: Is there an equation for happiness?

As reported in The Atlantic, a team of British researchers came up with an equation that can accurately predict your short-term happiness:

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Wow. Even for a former math nerd like me that’s a lot of variables.

At the core of this equation — and this study — is the relationship between your expectations and the actual outcomes. Perhaps not surprisingly, what it shows is that when you expect a reward or good experience you are less happy when you get it if you expect nothing at all. The conclusion then seems to be that it’s better to not anticipate good results, outcomes, or experiences to maximize how happy you feel when they actually happen.

At the same time, many studies have shown that the act of anticipating or planning good experiences — like a vacation — makes you happier. So in many ways, it’s a tradeoff between feeling happier as you anticipate or feeling happier if you don’t anticipate, but it happens.

My reaction to this study was echoed by the researchers themselves, who pointed out that it only looked at short-term happiness spikes vs. longer-term life satisfaction. There are many variables that determine our overall life-satisfaction and it’s not really about finding some perfect formula. Instead, it’s about adopting certain simple habits — like practicing gratitude, staying connected with people we care about, learning to savor small moments and joys, investing energy into learning new things and pursuing what you are interested in — and making them a regular part of our lives.

(It would be really cool if I could come up with a crazy-looking equation for what I just wrote – next time!)

Living Happier with Nataly: What a 65 Year-Old Man Taught Me About Zip-lining

We took a quick family trip to Vancouver recently. (If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. Beautiful city, amazing food, a lot to do whatever your interests are.) Once my daughter learned that there was a zip-lining park near by she got so excited that we all decided to go.

There were 9 of us in our zip-lining group, plus the two guides. In two hours we did 5 zip lines and it was awesome. It was our second time doing this as a family and I have to say, I was pretty impressed at our kiddo’s fearlessness – at one point we were going 35 miles an hour 5,000 feet in the air!

One of the men in our group seemed really hesitant. He took a while getting up to each of the lines, walked slowly in between, and generally looked not very into what we were doing. On our last line I ended up sitting next to him as we waited for everyone to come over. He complimented me on our kiddo being brave and asked how old she was. I told him she was 10.

“Well, I am 65 and this is my first time doing this. I can’t tell you how scared I feel, my heart is beating so fast, but it was just something I’d always wanted to try and I got tired of being afraid.”

I told him I thought it was awesome of him to conquer his fears. He looked pale, and scared, and I don’t think he is going zip lining again. But it’s not about that at all. It’s about trying something even though it seems scary or challenging. Whether you love it or hate it, do it again many times or never again, the point is pushing a little out of your comfort zone.

I said goodbye to our zip-lining companion and on the way back to our hotel made a list of a few things I was going to try even though they seem really tough right now. What’s on your list of challenging experiences you want to try and when can you give one a shot?

Happier Hearts: Awesome Yoga Mats and Bags

I take yoga a few times a week and have a few mats and bags stashed at the office, in my car, and at home so one is always available if I can find time for a class. Here are a few of my faves:

Add some Buddha to your (custom) yoga mat

A friend recommended this Aspen Yoga Mat to me a few months ago and it’s become my absolute favorite. It’s just soft enough without feeling like a squishy unstable floating device, easy to clean, and you can choose a symbol to print. (Mine is turquoise with a smiling Buddha:)

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Carry your mat in style

I like this Drishti Yoga Tote because it has a wide opening for easy mat storage. The zippered mesh pocket on the outside is a great way to carry some (sweaty) yoga clothes or your keys. LU9972S_0001_1

Pack your yoga gear in orange

I wouldn’t be true to my orange obsession if I didn’t include something orange, right? This Lug Cartwheel Fitness Bag is my favorite when I need to bring yoga clothes and gear to work for a lunch class. (I also use it as an overnight bag for short trips). It’s roomy enough, with a separate pocket for your shoes, has a great cushioned strap, tons of pockets, and an outside holder for your yoga mat. Wins on all counts, not to mention it looks awesome!

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Living Happier with Nataly: This Quote is My Life Mantra

If there is one quote I live by, it’s this:

LIFE IS SHORT. COLLECT EXPERIENCES.

I made it up a while ago. Someone once told me it sounds depressing but I disagree. Life moves fast. There is so much going on each day that it’s easy for moments to just blend into the next. Sometimes I feel like I live in a perpetual state of hurry.

miaSo this quote is my mantra to remind me to focus on what’s important — experiencing as much as possible, in every small and huge way. An experience could be playing a game with my daughter before bed or it could be something more special, like visiting a new place. But to collect it you have to be present in it or it will rush right by.

What experiences will you collect today?

Happier Hearts: Orange Jewelry Edition

Taking vitamin C or drinking fresh-squeezed juice are two ways to get more orange into your life. Want a third?  Wear tiny pops of orange when you’re in the mood for an extra little burst of daily energy. Here are three (but only three — there are many, many more!) of my favorite pieces of fun orange jewelry:

Stud muffins.

I love how these small earrings really add a pop of color around my face. When I’m having a meh morning they’re usually my choice for a quick pick-me-up.

Kate Spade New York Small Square Studs2263119-p-MULTIVIEW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange leather is the new (black) leather.

This is one of our favorite orange accessories at Happier. It fits any size wrist, it sparkles, and seriously, does it get any cooler than leather?

Wrap Bracelet in Orange Leatheril_570xN.545552728_rcoi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put a (big giant) ring on it.

I know that Happier is all about small beautiful moments, but sometimes, for me, it’s about big giant rings. I know they’re not for everyone, but I wear large rings often and when I do I feel like I have a smile on my hand all day long. This ring is the size of a small coffee table, but it’s awesome, and it’s orange. If it’s too big (I’ll understand!), check out other rings and accessories in this shop, which is one of my faves on Etsy.

Huge Glass Cocktail Ringil_570xN.314192444

 

 

Android, meet Happier!

Well, first, Happier, meet Tony, who is one of our awesome developers and who has some pretty great news to share today:

This is Tony. Like all of us at Happier he loves giraffes. A lot.

Hi Happier community!

Today marks the first day that you can officially download Happier from the Play Store, and boy does it feel good!

While you may not be able to take your favorite course on the go yet, you can collect and share your happy moments and stay connected with our awesome community that makes Happier what it is! We’ve spent a good deal of time making sure all of the basics are there, so you’ll be able to do things like keep up to date with your friends, browse featured moments, and smile and comment at the things that made your day just that much brighter.

 Of course, with all new apps, there are going to be some small issues that have slipped through the testing cracks, but we’ll be keeping a close ear to the ground and make sure that the Happier for Android becomes the app that we would all want it to be! (We are always really excited to hear from you — yes, even when it’s to report a bug — so keep your feedback coming to team@happier.com.)

So what’s up next then? I’ll be working on search and notifications. Because these are quite big tasks, I can’t give you a shipping date yet but I promise they’ll be out soon! Once that’s done and we’ve added some of the community features our users love, I can start tackling courses and make sure that you can really get the full experience of Happier on Android!

Thanks everyone for being so patient with us on this and I’d love to give a big, huuuge thanks to everyone who joined as early beta testers. You guys were a great help and were absolutely fantastic at pointing out every little bug that I’d missed during the early stages of development.

Until next release!

Tony (and the rest of the very excited Happier team)