Lifestyle

There are plenty of reasons to be frustrated, anxious, and downright depressed about life right now. According to a University of Chicago study in late May, Americans have hit a record low for happiness. In fact, we’re the most miserable we’ve been in half a century!

However, the flip side of all this doom and gloom is that even the simplest things have the power to move the needle on our happiness (if we let them) and find a silver lining. Below we’ve compiled a list of easily achievable experiences that could just make your day!

1. Gifts of Nature

Because we’re not inundating our senses with traffic, shopping trips and social activities, there’s less to distract us from the beauty all around us. You’ll probably get a surge of pleasure from watching your basil grow fuller (soon it will be time for pesto!), a brilliant rainbow streaking across the sky on your morning walk, or a family of geese waddling across your path. Just keep your eyes peeled for these tiny moments of ecstasy!

2. Creative Cooking

How exciting is it to discover you have every ingredient in a new recipe you’d like to make or conversely, to find a fabulous recipe you can make with exactly what you have on hand? Some cooks have gotten really creative by trying clever substitutions (for example, crushed-up caramel corn makes great breading for chicken!). Silver lining: your experimentation may lead to a great new recipe!

3. Email Pick-Me-Up

You don’t have to have an occasion to send a greeting card to someone you care about. You don’t even have to have a stamp. Using an online card delivery service (some are free while others have nominal subscription costs), you can send an eCard or video to anyone with an email address anytime you choose. We guarantee you’ll feel just as great sending the card as your loved one feels receiving it.

4. Online Get-Together

The restrictions on social interaction can be extremely isolating; however, you can use video conferencing apps to gather not only for birthdays and special occasions but also for those everyday get-togethers like a chat with your best friend or a book club meeting. One group of New York City seniors even holds a weekly comedy workshop online to hone their impressions and one-liners, while connecting with those of a like mind.

5. Give Back

When you are the recipient of a generous gift or act, it undoubtedly makes you happy, but it’s just as joyful to be the giver. If you make cookies or bake bread, make an extra batch for the neighbors. Tip the restaurant delivery driver more than 20 percent. Give your favorite nonprofit an unplanned donation. A few months ago, the driver ahead of me in the Starbucks drive-through paid for my coffee. The unexpectedness of this kindness truly made my day!