The Happiness Games*TM
Your Challenge: Do at least 1 action from each of the ten domains of happiness below. For more information regarding studies that created these 10 Domains of Happiness, visit The Happiness Initiative at http://www.happycounts.org/survey-methodology/.
- Smile and make eye contact with a stranger or the checker at the grocery store.
- Make introductions. Invite a few people who don’t know each other over or out for dinner.
- You’re already invited! Join an informal recreational group that hikes trails, tries new restaurants, plays volleyball or backgammon, rides horses, bowls, skates, jogs or plays music together. Look at Craigslist Community Activities or your local Community Center listings.
- Notice the art on the walls wherever you go—at the office, coffee shop, the bus shelter, your friend’s house. Think about who made it and how it ended up on those walls. Why did the artist create it? Who selected it? Who paid for it?
- Ask someone about their own culture.
- Shake up the social circles. Make a point to form friendships with people from different countries or cultures. Hang out with people of different races and ages. Get to know people of different sexual orientation. As we get to know people whom we consider different from us, we start to see we are more common than different. We can learn greatly from each other. There is great joy that comes from these kinds of connections as we open up to the oneness that is humanity. The boundaries of "different from" come tumbling down.
- Engage in a conversation you normally wouldn't engage in.
- Listen to a new kind of music.
- Find a new book through Seattle Public Library’s 33 lists of greats, including recent and historical winners of the Pulitzer, The World Fantasy Award, The National Outdoor Book Award, The Golden Dagger Award, The Caldecott Medal, The Griffin Poetry Prize and The James Beard Award: http://seattle.bibliocommons.com/explore/index/awards.
- Explore a curiosity or develop a skill through a class at your local community college. Evening credit and non-credit options include acting, public speaking, web design, massage technique, videography, boating, cooking, stained glass work and more.
- Arrange a carpool to your next event.
- Get outside. Be in nature for at least 10 minutes. (It‘s easy to forget the majesty of the natural world. Just being in nature, even a walk in your neighborhood, brings happiness.)
- Get a bag and a pair of gloves and go around the block picking up trash. Invite a friend or colleague to join you.
- Have you done your homework on the local initiatives and candidates on the November ballot? Check out Washington’s non-partisan, non-profit, non-commercial TVW website for official video statements for and against each ballot choice. See if there are topics you need to research further before Election Day. http://www.tvw.org/2012-video-voters-guide-general-election
- Watch a political show on TV or the internet.
- Donate to a cause you care about.
- Join or start a Community Currency system, also called Community Exchange Systems, Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), Mutual Credit trading systems, or Time Banks. This is a network that allows you to trade time, services, or goods without money.
- Got kamut? Try a healthy whole grain you haven’t tried before. Instead of white or brown rice, consider a dish with faro, barley, spelt, wheat berries, buckwheat, red rice, quinoa or kamut. If you don’t want to track down a special recipe, just act like it’s rice.
- Meditate for at least 20 minutes a day. Sit in a comfortable upright position and focus on your breath as it arises and passes away. When thoughts come, just label them thoughts and watch them dissolve. Meditation is not about thinking or solving your problems. It is about being present to any phenomena that arise and pass away as you practice. Research has shown that meditation increases the level of serotonin in our brains, a neurotransmitter related to happiness.
- Write five things you are grateful for.
- Compose an email or letter to a friend—just a good paragraph or two. Take your time and choose the words carefully: no emoticons, clichés, or “txtspk”.
- One way people share emotions is by mirroring one another’s facial expressions. Making a face actually helps make the feeling. Try a game of mirror-faces with a friend. What’s the easiest emotion to induce?
- Practice empathy throughout the day. Put yourself in other peoples' shoes. This will help you understand what it must be like to be your cranky boss, your friend waiting for the results of a biopsy, or your partner whose side you cannot seem to see. A lot of our discord comes from not understanding others’ behaviors and positions. Instead of steadfastly holding on to your own views and positions, try understanding the others' by using empathy. Empathy often softens our actions towards others and reduces the probability of getting improbabilities where no one wins. Less discord leads to greater happiness.
- Take a one-day sabbatical from the internet or all electronics.
- Say “no” to multi-tasking. Do one thing at a time for the day.
- Dust and appreciate the objects on display in your house. Remember where they came from.
- Never work too hard. Figure out what you are willing to give and stick to that. A promotion is not worth it if it steals time from your family or from activities that bring joy to you.
- Visit a pet shop. Ask the aquarium guy if he has a favorite fish in the store.
- Notice three visual details in your everyday setting that you never noticed before.
- Don't gossip when you feel a complaint arising.
- Publicly acknowledge someone at work.
- Volunteer to be the one to un-jam the copy machine, no matter whose fault, for an entire day.
- Play a game of telephone, relaying a whispered message from person-to-person and seeing how accurately it arrives at its destination. Recall tales of distorted gossip.
- Plan an office potluck.
*Created by volunteers of TEDxBellevue. The first Happiness Games was played the month following our September 30th, 2012 event.