It seems, no matter how hard I try to keep my summer calm and intentional, by the time August rolls around I am hot, cranky and merely trying to keep up. This year I am not going to let August get me down, so I’ve come up with a list of simple activities to help me remain intentional each day.
Whether you share my last-month-of-summer woes or not, I hope you will enjoy these short, easy activities that will help you focus on the moment, and on the simple pleasures we find around us each day.
31 Simple Activities to bring a smile to your face. Try one each day this month.
- Look at flower beds as you pass by. Which one is your favorite? Why? (Bonus: Try to identify the plants involved.)
- Sit down with a favorite drink and savor every sip.
- Have lunch with a friend. Put the phones away and simply talk.
- Watch a favorite movie—without your phone, without multitasking, without guilt. Become fully engrossed, and notice some detail you’ve never noticed before.
- Say ‘Thank you’ and ‘Have a nice day’ to everyone you interact with. Count how many smiles you get.
- Dig out a favorite poem, picture book, or short story and read it just for fun. Savor the happy memories it brings to mind.
- Spend at least ten minutes outside. Breathe slowly. Feel the sunshine. Listen for happy noises, like birds singing or children laughing. (If it’s a nasty day, swap with #11 or #18 and try again.)
- Give something away. Something a little nicer than generic stuff. Some still-useful item that someone else needs more than we do, or something that will bring someone else joy.
- Make a list of ten things you are grateful for right now. Don’t overthink, simply jot down the first things that come to mind.
- Wear a favorite outfit. Just because it makes you feel great.
- Take time to sniff things today. A piece of fruit. A coworker’s perfume. The dinner simmering on the stove. Notice how the various aromas make you feel. Happy? Energized? Sentimental? What memories do those scents conjure up?
- Think of something that you inherited from a family member or were given as a gift. Pull it out and wear it or use it today.
- Add a festive touch to dinner by using the good china or fancy serving dishes. Even if you’re just eating pizza.
- Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while, just to say hello.
- Pick some physical thing you wish you were better at, like dancing, martial arts, or watercolor painting. Find a beginner’s video on the internet and practice the moves. (For best results, do it alone unless you have a crazy best friend who can laugh and wobble with you.)
- Complete a mini decluttering project. Something that can be done in five minutes or less, such as: Tidy the stuff hanging on the fridge, clean out your purse, toss the odds and ends lying on the floor of the car, clear the junk off your dresser or nightstand. Take a moment to enjoy the results.
- Indulge in some small “special” thing you don’t normally do. Stop at a coffee shop, eat ice cream, soak in the tub, wear perfume…
- Listen to an inspiring piece of music with no distractions. Don’t be afraid to crank up the volume and really feel it. (Air guitar, lip-syncing and/or conducting optional.)
- Think about your dream vacation. Now pick some aspect of that dream that is achievable this year. Make it happen. (Hints: Scenic beauty, time alone with a loved one, a romantic dinner, a week away with no agenda, trying exotic foods, the ocean…)
- Read a favorite psalm or inspirational poem out loud. Repeat a particularly poignant or uplifting phrase from it throughout the day.
- Change things up by taking a different route to work today. What caught your attention?
- Think back over the last few months. List five things you are glad you did—anything from completing a major project to cheering up that guy in the store. Smile, you made the world a better place.
- Send a happy card to someone.
- Pay attention to what you eat. Notice the colors, the textures, the nuances of flavor. Think about where the food came from, and be thankful we live in an age of such abundance and variety.
- Hug as many people as possible today.
- Create art. Doodle, color, sculpt with playdough, make up a story or a song. Anything that brings a smile to your inner child.
- Thank someone who inspired you. Call, text, send a card. However you do it, let them know how they made a difference in your life.
- Watch a documentary, TED talk or YouTube video on any subject that fascinates you. (There are videos on any subject you can imagine, so google a few topics and see what catches your eye.)
- Practice relaxation. Do some yoga. Take a soothing soak in the tub. Breathe in your favorite relaxing essential oils. Splurge for a massage. While you relax, think about all the reasons you have to be grateful. (Click here for 40 simple relaxation ideas.)
- Look through old photos. Laugh, cry, enjoy the memories.
- Think back over the month. Which simple pleasure activities meant the most to you? Find ways to bring more of that into your life.