12 Steps to Happiness in time of the internet


It seems to me since my trade is writing out fantastical tales that cater to everyone’s need of being desired (or, you know, having spank bank material), I should also put down a few tips on general happiness when slapping that dolphin silly/flicking the clam just doesn’t cut it. I aim to please. And I also consider myself a semi-professional at dealing with unhappiness. No, I’m not talking about getting drunk. Here’s an incomplete list of things that WILL make you feel good and don’t cost a ton on money as some of these are totally free to do.

  1. Have a cup of coffee. Ah coffee, the poor man’s antidepressant. This can be a double edged sword as coffee does come with it’s down sides and CAN lead to a prolonged state of unhappiness if things like IBS are present. However, if you need a quick fix and coffee is available, it will certainly do the trick. Bonus happiness if you take your coffee outside and/or with friends. Which brings me to…
  2. Hang out with friends. Yes, it’s that simple. Get friends. Hang out with them. Good friends. Friends that make you want to be the best version of yourself. Activities are not specified or always necessary. Sometimes just sitting in the same room at the same time is all takes. Read books, ignore each other, paint your nails, catch Pokemon. At this point someone is going to go “But I do hang out with them online all day every day” to which I say “Well that’s just swell, but to experience the full benefit of friends, you need to be physically in the same location. Also, don’t try to jump their bones if that’s not the kind of a friendship you have. Be cool. Hang out. Hanging out is nice.” Online hanging out only counts in cases of extreme emergency, like your foot fell off when you were stuck down a well. Or your friend is on Mars. Or Poughkeepsie. You will notice the difference in Authentic Friend Experience as opposed to prolonged Artificial Friend Experience. It’s like the difference between a chocolate cake and a Quest bar. That is, it’ll do, but the real thing is going to give you a lot less gas and diarrhea. For all you who are now thinking that I’m the old lady yelling at the cloud: The internet is good. It can be used for great things. Like organizing to hang out in the same physical space with new friends made online.
  3. Listen to music. Now here’s where I can’t tell you what music to listen to specifically, though if you go by Science, metal is just as good as anything, but I personally dislike listening to music that talks about everyone dying or being just rotten people when all I need is to shake my drunked up tushy. So go with what you feel like. Bonus happiness if you can sing along and/or dance to it. Extra bonus happiness if these things can be done with friendly people.
  4. Go for a walk. Obviously this can seem like kind of a terrible idea if the weather isn’t great, but I’m gonna let you in on a secret: it’s still good for happiness even if it pours down kittens outside. Actually, that might be kind of horrific. So scratch that. Ha! Scratch… cat, I made a cat pun! Anyhow. Going outside, for 5 minutes when it’s raining is still better for your happiness levels than sleeping in. If it’s particularly snowy, or cold, it’s still very enjoyable to put your adult pants on and go out the door. It has something to do with sunshine or circadian rhythm or fresh air or something. I don’t know. I just write stuff. You know the drill by now with how to get bonus happiness out of this.
  5. Exercise. There. I said it. The terrible E-word. Even my slush-self dislikes the word even if I don’t dislike exercise itself. I blame women’s magazines for making “exercise” sound like something you do to punish yourself for eating that chocolate cake. Actually, when I’m sober, it’s really enjoyable, hence why it’s on this list; It does stuff to your brain. Don’t exercise when drunk. That’s not good for anything except for viral videos. Though I’m not telling you what to do, so if you’re drunk and the mood strikes you to shoot some hoops, you do you, boo. Drunk hoops are better than no hoops.
  6. Take a nap. This is another technique that is widely abused but use it wisely and it can be kinda nice. There’s a trick to using naps and I’m going to let you in on it: you have to take a nap deliberately, not in the morning and not when you have a huge amount of stuff to do. If you have a lot of stuff to do, for sake of personal happiness it’s always better to go for a short walk to organize thoughts and then do the stuff. If you’re just getting out of bed, it doesn’t count as napping to just stay there for an hour or a day more. Naps are precarious. Use them like they’re cats: if you try to force them when they’re busy doing other stuff, you will get cut up. They might try to interfere with your work and look at you like they’re the most sensible thing to do in the world, but that’s when you need to tell them no and move them aside. The best time to indulge a Nap Cat is when you’re both relaxed and can spare the time. In general though, for heaven’s sake people, get your sleep in! Working 24h a day and flapping your suspenders about it all over town is some grade A bullshit made up by people who want to die by 30 from a heart attack and be buried with their check book.
  7. Eat a good meal. Heck, eat several. Aim for 3 good meals a day. That should do it. Like, eat, man. Eating is the food of gods. It just makes everything in your body function. If you don’t eat, you’re more likely to get cranky and make bad choices in life and love and food. Personal confession: I’m all about the occasional fasting day. That’s not going to hurt you. BUT as with everything, you gotta have some grip on what you’re doing. Don’t let your brain be deprived of fats. Fats make your brain happy and your food taste good. Bonus happiness when you eat with other people. See a pattern here?
  8. Take a hot shower or a soak. Soaking just your feet is also acceptable. Now I’m no scientist, or a historian, but I do believe historically this has something to do with heat expansion. When you soak your feet, not only do they come out ever so slightly bigger (calm down everyone in the back seat there, it’s not a permanent situation!) but the size of the blood vessels in them has also slightly expanded. Larger blood vessels, not so much pressure in them. Easier blood flow, calmer mind. It also just feels really nice. Bonus happiness for bath bombs, Epsom salts, massages, scrubbing and spas. Extra bonus happiness if you can do this with THAT kind of friends.
  9. Cuddle. Ok, you can do more than cuddle, but for your basic garden variety quick fixes for happiness, hugging and cuddling are all it takes. Body chemistry is a wild trip, man. You DO get bonus happiness if you’re cuddling a friend, but a good snuggle even with someone you’ve just met is A-OK. As long as they’re A-OK with it. Or cuddle a pillow. That works too. Just don’t be that tool who’s all like “Let’s cuddle!” and immediately goes for the boob. Nobody likes that guy.
  10. Unclutter the fuck up. Got clutter? Unclutter it. Got frustration? Clean the house. I don’t care if you did just clean it yesterday, you can always change the sheets again, do the laundry, iron some jeans (you can also do this out of spite and I highly recommend this technique if you’re feeling passive-aggressive), vacuum the carpet or build a new bathroom. There’s two really good reasons why this works: you got shit done and now the shit looks/smells good. Bonus happiness for fresh, clean sheets.
  11. Do a thing with your hands. Us humans seem to just loooove being able to show off something. Even when we don’t have anyone to show anything off for. But that’s besides the point. Most good stories you tell the neighbours kids when you’re as old as balls, or that get you street cred when you’re an drunken internet persona, start with “Hold my bottle and let me show you a thing”. Thing often being either a gnarly wound acquired when doing a thing with your hands that you didn’t know how to do, or doing a thing with your hands there on the spot. Do things with your hands. Draw, paint, crochet, stand on them, cook, build a wall, wash the car, origami, blog about happiness. Doing stuff is getting shit done. Getting shit done is happiness. Bonus happiness for doing the thing with friends and getting at least one cool scar.
  12. DO NOT go on social media. So I might get some shit for this, but there ya go. This is more like a fair warning on social media rather than a definite rule about never ever going there. In all seriousness, there are a few books on this that are good, but I can recommend The Shallows by Nicholas Carr which isn’t really about this item specifically but on your brain and the internet in general in a very non-judgemental tone. Are you feeling lonely, frustrated by what you see in your Facebook feed? Did you go on Twitter and post some choice words about it which absolutely no one responded to in any way except for that one porn bot who wants to add you on Skype now? Did you try to cheer yourself up from the news (and Twitter and Facebook) by looking at some funny videos on YouTube only to get stuck on there for 2 hours? Did you feel a nagging frustration about that afterwards even if you DID learn a new thing about pet care and the Mongols probably? The internet and social media can be great for exchanging information, acquiring it very rapidly. You meet new people from across the globe, you see and read new things, you learn and get inspired. But you can also drown in the sea of plenty and if you’re not in a good solid place and you don’t have a schedule in place for doing your thing and then taking breaks to browse the net, it can quickly consume all of your time. Because it is so vast and links you constantly to new information and new sights, your brain is constantly in a state of alertness and that tires it out. You make it feel like it’s doing a shit ton when it’s actually doing nothing or very little and it’s that dichotomy that causes the mounting frustration you feel with your own accomplishments. You talk to friends, but you don’t get the same benefit from it as you would from being physically with them. You learn new things constantly but you’re not asked to recall on those as they’re immediately available through the internet, nor does your brain get to digest things as it’s always hyperalert when online. You see other people seemingly living a perfect existence because you only see a condensed reel of the highlights of their life and not all the sitting and sleeping and bills and skid marks in between those moments. You may consciously know that what you see and read is not the full extent of the truth, but your lizard brain doesn’t and your lizard brain is the one making decisions most of the time. So if you’re feeling unhappy, a few days (or years) off social media can do wonders for you. Bonus happiness if you spend that time with friends.

So that’s an incomplete 12 step program for personal happiness. Costs only what your basic existence in a capitalistic society costs. Doesn’t require a holiday in the Bahamas (though I hear those are goo-ood). Doesn’t require a new pair of shoes or making amends with creepy uncles. Srsly though, no one needs to be on good terms with that guy. What are some of your Go To free happiness tips?