This list isn’t full of vague notions and ideas. These are specific tasks on my to-do list to boost my contentment levels over the next couple of months. Use this list as inspiration to give yourself some traction and manually inject some fresh happiness into your daily life.
Inspiration for Intentional Happiness: The Longest Months
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with daily levels of happiness from the beginning of January to the end of March and sometimes into April. I call these “the longest months” because here in Wisconsin it’s bitterly cold, dark and gloomy.
On top of that, the holiday season ends right at the beginning of January which tends to leave me feeling a little less cheerful. The Christmas tree hits the curb, the family get-togethers slow down, and I usually feel guilty for having eaten my weight in treats over the previous months.
As a result of all these factors, I can’t help but go into “the longest months” feeling a little blue.
This year, instead of becoming a human slug and binge-watching TV or sleeping more than I should be, I am going to try and gather up some inspiration. I am working on being present and finding motivation to make the most of these slower months — hopefully pulling myself out of the winter blues.
If you’re feeling the same way and you think it’s time to make a change, keep reading. I’m going to list all the happiness boosting items on my to-do list for “the longest months” this year. January through March is going to be a season of checking things off! Let’s do it!
17 To-Do List Items for Living a Happier Life
I’ve got these happiness booster to-do’s on a list in my monthly planner. I’ve drawn little boxes next to each item, just begging to be crossed out. Pick your favorite ones and put them on your own to-do list. Leave more ideas to inspire others in the comments!
Buy a meal for a friend:
Sitting down and enjoying a meal with someone you care about is a treat in itself, but it feels even better to treat them.
Try a new coffee drink:
I know what I like, and I know of a few coffee drinks I don’t like as much. There are SO many I haven’t tried and I usually find myself sticking to what I know. To check this off I’m going to roll the dice and try something new, just for the sake of mixing things up.
Listen to summertime music for a day:
Something about cold and gloomy winter weather makes me want to curl up and listen to slow, dreary music. I’m going to challenge myself to listen to some of my most summery-feeling songs for a whole day. It might feel a little backwards, but I know that music is bound to remind me of the summer sun that will make an appearance again in a couple months.
Watch a loved one’s favorite movie:
Some people have an all-time favorite movie. I can never answer that question, but I love watching other people’s favorites simply for the purpose of learning a little more about them. I want to think of someone I care about, grab a bowl of popcorn, and put on their favorite. Maybe it’ll end up on my list!
Go for a long walk outdoors:
Sometimes I get a little stir-crazy when the weather is cold and I’ve been cooped up for a couple days. A long walk, even when I’ve got to put on boots, mittens, a hat, and scarf, can really clear my head. I want defeat my winter sluggishness and get outside for a long walk.
Deep clean the shower/bathtub:
I’m not a bath person, but there’s just something so satisfying about cleaning the bathtub/shower to the point where I could take a bath if I wanted to. Is it time to break out the candles and a book? Maybe I’ll become a bath person after this? Who knows!
Make a handmade a birthday card for someone:
I never used to buy birthday cards because I love giving and receiving handmade ones. As time has gone on and life got busier, I stopped taking the time to make cards for people. I want to get creative and make a card for someone who has an upcoming birthday.
Complete a puzzle:
Puzzles are great for your brain, can be an engaging group activity, and they come in many forms. I have a jigsaw puzzle in mind, but if you prefer crosswords, word searches, or other puzzles, those definitely count.
Hang up a new picture of someone you love:
I have some pretty barren cubicle walls at work, so I want to print and hang a new photo of someone I love. There’s something so comforting about having a little piece of that person with you when you look around (especially at your desk on a monday).
Get rid of 3 clothing items that don’t fit:
Sometimes you buy or receive clothing items that you love the look of, but that just don’t fit you the way you imagined. Other times I buy clothing items that I realize later just don’t fit my style (sometimes it’s like I think I am someone else when I am shopping!). I want to be decisive and get rid of 3 items that are taking up space in my closet.
Learn all of the words to a new song:
There are a lot of songs that I like to listen to that I don’t know by heart yet. I have a 30 minute commute to work in the morning, so it’s on my to-do list to take advantage of that time and learn the words to a favorite song. Singing along is way more fun than just listening, don’t you think?
Bake a treat to share:
I really enjoy baking because the finished product is so fun to share with others. I want to get out my Kitchenaid and make a batch of baked goods. Cupcakes, muffins, brownies, or cookies? All of them?
Drink a mug of hot cocoa at LEAST once a week:
Drinking hot cocoa, even without marshmallows, feels like the ultimate cozy experience on a cold night after work. I think this will be an easy item to check off the list, but there’s nothing wrong with making it official, right?
Make some delicious risotto:
We’ve been on a big Hell’s Kitchen kick lately, and Gordon Ramsay is pretty much always losing it over the risotto. I think it’s about time I tried to make it.
Wash your car:
Depending on where you live, winter can be really tough on a car. My car is covered in salt and dirt; it looks terrible. I know it won’t last long in this weather, but washing my car at least once this winter is better than nothing.
Complete a workout at LEAST once a week:
When I am living in the dead of winter and desire to curl up and sleep until summer comes back, the last thing I want to do is put on a workout video or drive to the gym. I am going to make an effort to workout once a week, even if it’s something low-key, just to challenge my sluggish tendencies.
Plan and go on one seasonal activity day trip:
Last year we went snow tubing for a day and it was great. I want to choose a winter activity and make a day of it again this year. We’ll have fun, grab a bite to eat, and head home. Now I just need to make it happen!
See how many of these things you can add to your to-do list and accomplish before the weather cheers up. It might just keep your mind from succumbing to the blues — or at least give you motivation to try something new. Let me know what you think and how it goes!
Living Intentionally & Setting Healthy Goals
It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to be chipper and living the good life every moment of every day. Sometimes, the most we can do is to get up, go to work, come home, and go to bed. And sometimes, that’s enough.
The most important thing we can do to set ourselves up for success and happiness is to take advantage of the times when we are feeling productive. During those spurts of inspiration and confidence, we should sit down and create healthy, realistic goals for us to use as a compass when life gets tough.
Going into a low-point without any direction has never improved my recovery time. When I’ve got goals and priorities laid out and ready to reference when I lose sight of what’s important, I have a much easier time getting back into the groove.
There are so many great ways to get started. Consider getting your priorities and goals in order, or starting with a happiness-boosting to-do list like the one above. The worst thing you can do is nothing, so make the first move and see where it takes you!