The Wave Project: 5 Happiness Inducers

This post is coming to you courtesy of a wacky little idea I came up with this past week when I was hiking one morning near my house. As I trekked on down the road, I came upon some sort of major project with tons of workmen driving trucks, graders, and all sorts of large vehicles.

At first I was a teeny bit (ok significantly) cranky about the disruption but then I realized that I was out for a leisurely walk in the heat while all these workmen were engaged in hard labor in the same heat and that had to have made it a lot hotter to them. Feeling guilty, I waved at a few of them and smiled lamely and they in turn gave a genuine greeting. This brought on a bit of sheepishness but also lightened my mood and had me now feeling pretty appreciative so I thought “hmm… maybe it’s impossible to be cranky while smiling and waving?” and that is when the light bulb went on.

First I focused on waving at all of the Department of Water and Power workers on my walk but then I extended it to anyone I crossed paths with. And then I upped the ante and got exuberant about it. Now for almost a week I’ve been waving and grinning at every single person I come into contact with while hiking. And my mood has been a heck of a lot better despite the fact that I am navigating some life challenges that might impact it negatively.

Years ago, I learned about banishing negativity and fanning the positive flame when I sold real estate and did time answering the phones and praying a call would result in a listing. The manager of the agency placed a mirror in front of me and explained that I should smile when answering the phone as it’s difficult to be unenthusiastic when smiling. It turned out to be true even though the forced Miss America smile felt pretty silly at first.

So, here are five mood lifts that might seem quirky but go ahead and try them and see what transpires.

1) WAVE – Yes, wave at as many people as you can. I dare you to go for a walk for even fifteen minutes, wave at everyone you encounter, and I mean joyfully. It’s possible a few people will return this with a confused look but most will pony up a cheerful return wave and that is going to feel nice.

2) SMILE – This one is harder if you are feeling punky but I did it and it truly did lift my mood. The interesting part is that you are smiling at strangers and you realize they know nothing about you which sometimes is not such a bad thing. It felt liberating to just be a “happy person” in a bigger world than my personal one and taking a break from a singular point of view was also a relief.

3) CHAT – Not going to lie, this one I will have to report back on but I will be trying it out starting tomorrow. You see, I noticed tonight at the store that a man in front of me asked the cashier – with genuine interest – how he was doing and how his night was going and the exchange was more connected than the rote, usual retail convo. The cashier brightened, the customer was cheerful, and I instantly wished I’d thought of this rather than being in my own head but then knew it would be beyond idiotic for me to repeat the same happy chat when it was my turn as I was only four feet from the conversation. Tomorrow, I am on it.

4) ACT – Yes take action. We’ve heard it before and I thought of it this morning and it worked. I picked up garbage on my hike and grabbed a few moments of feeling like David Sedaris, an author who is so well-known for many hours picking trash up near his home that he had a garbage truck named after him. I only spent about fifteen minutes so I’d settle for a garbage can with my name on it and stenciling it on my own would suffice. Just pick any form of beautification that appeals and do it, whether it be trash collection or sweeping a section of a street or planting a vacant lot like a wonderful man we profiled months ago.

5) VOLUNTEER I ebb and flow on this one but the thing to know is it is a completely selfish endeavor, yes you read that correctly. Selfless is when you do something that is unpleasant and brings no real satisfaction. Volunteering is blissfully self-indulgent as I always feel a bit better about myself when I get out of my own head and do something tangible that feels like a contribution. I am not a hero, I am just an ordinary person, spending a tiny amount of time aiding those bigger contributors who are bent on making the world a better place. And I encourage you to only do “selfish volunteer projects” as you will expand your world, make new friends, and return again and again if you love your choice. If it is difficult for you to take on a tangible commitment, just look around and ask yourself how you can be of service to one person i.e. return someone’s grocery cart, let a harried commuter in before you at the gas pump, or call a manager over to make them aware of a great interaction with an employee.

Life is short, make it more joyful for yourself by making it more joyful for those around you and if you see a hiker in a silly red hat, waving gleefully, don’t leave her hanging.

Feel free to “like”/share to Facebook and/or Tweet. Thanks so much!

4 thoughts on “The Wave Project: 5 Happiness Inducers”

    1. Marnie,
      So grateful for your sweet feedback and it comes at the perfect time. Lucky to have you lifting the site up, you are the bomb! XO

  1. It’s a shame that people leave trash EVERYWHERE! We carry bags when walk esp in National Forest areas. And WAVE!!! at traffic, shoot ’em w water guns!!! We laugh a lot!!!!

    1. I’ve been trying to pick up litter more often also so thanks for the inspiration and laughter is the best medicine, that is for sure! 🙂

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