Happiness Hacks: June 2017

I LOVE podcasts. They fit my Type-A personality, my need to always feel like I’m satisfying the hungry curiosity that runs at warp speed through my brain. I love all sorts of podcasts, from political to storytelling to teaching tips to personal growth.

This month I’ve been plowing through the podcast “Happier With Gretchen Rubin”. 

You should check it out. She publishes two types of podcasts: one that is super short ‘happiness’ tips often in the form of a quote or anecdote to give you something to think about. She calls these “A Little Happier” – you might like this one called “We Don’t Always Know When Children Are Wasting Their Time”.

The second type of podcast she publishes is her longer series (she’s up to podcast #121, so you have some to look forward to!) – for example, I just listened to this one about how to get more reading done, and an interview with Sam Walker: http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2017/06/podcast-121-reading-sam-walker/

Gretchen’s name might sound familiar to you because several years ago she wrote the best-selling books The Happiness Project and Happier At Home. You can read my essay inspired by Happier At Home here.

Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...
Cover via Amazon

Gretchen’s writing and podcasts inspired me to create what I hope are monthly lists of ‘happiness hacks’ – small, simple acts or moments in life that bring me happiness and maybe they’ll rub off on you, too.

Happiness Hacks June 2017:

Biking to work

happiness hack june 2017
Ummmm…yeah. My students/family thought I was hilarious. I thought I was a blue and gold Viking!

Last year a teacher/friend/neighbor and I started a biking to work challenge. We decided that we would commit to trying to bike to work every day. Now, biking to work is something I did regularly anyways, but I was noticing I was finding more and more excuses to take the car. I’d arrive home tired/hot/stressed, and completely unmotivated to exercise. Even my little doggie couldn’t always get me going after a long day.

The biking to work challenge worked, mainly because I love a challenge and when I start something I don’t like to give up. I started to notice how relaxed I felt when I got to work and got home after a 15-minute bike ride. I found I was listening to more podcasts, and taking home less work. Once I started I couldn’t stop – even when northern California experienced one of the rainiest winters ever! I simply bought a bike poncho and kept on pedaling.

I know not everyone can bike to work, but if you’re looking for more relaxation and exercise, is there a way you could commit to 15 minutes once (or twice) a day?

Happiness Hacks June 2017

Cleaning the fridge and freezer

Stay with me here: I love to organize my refrigerator and freezer. I can’t say that I love it when the juice has spilled and stuck in a gooey mess all the way down the side, or when I discover that package of fancy Brie molding in the cheese drawer. No one loves the smell or rotten kale or moldy sour cream, right?

But I do love knowing what I have and where it is because it makes life so much easier. Cooking and baking are relaxing to me, but not when I don’t have the right ingredients or something has expired. Plus, I love being able to open the doors, have the cold air hit my face and see the neatly arranged frozen bags of fruit, the containers of extra sauce or meatballs, and the easily accessible Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel gelato staring back at me.

For that, I’ll gladly clean the fridge and freezer at least every other month!

Happiness Hacks June 2017

Upcycled children’s books into journals

I recently took a trip to Salt Lake City to have a ‘staycation’ at my daughter’s college apartment. I love just hanging out in SLC, checking out the cool spots to eat and drink (coffee), walking through the beautifully landscaped neighborhoods, and shopping at a few of my favorite places: the Sundance outlet and Uptown Cheapskate.

One of the best parts of Salt Lake City on a Saturday is going to the HUGE downtown Farmer’s Market. I love the yummy food trucks, the produce vendors, and the beautiful homemade craft booths.

happiness hack June 2017
I went back for a second year in a row to this awesome food truck!

This year I discovered the breathtaking book journals made by Red Barn Collections. you can follow them on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/redbarncollections/  I got so excited to see how they cleverly upcycled books into journals that I posted this video on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVc4n1jhL8F/?taken-by=mamawolfeto2

I can see how they would make awesome graduation gifts, birthday presents, new baby gifts, recipe books, or just to write in! And I hear they do a “Christmas in August” sale, so be sure to check them out.

happiness hack June 2017
I forgot to mention that Red Barn Collection does adorable light switch covers, too! Recognize this guy?

Happiness Hacks June 2017

Finding and using gift cards

My last happiness hack for June 2017 is finding and using gift cards. This will take some upfront time – you’ll need to go through your purses, wallets, drawers, mail – anywhere you have stashed gift cards. Put them all together in an envelope or just slap a rubber band on them, and take them on your next shopping trip or vacation. I’ve done this two years in a row with my Salt Lake City trip, and am amazed at how much fun it is to try to pay for everything with a gift card! Consider it a way of ‘forced saving’ if you want – but I was able to indulge us with new clothes, books, frozen yogurt, burgers and a mani-pedi without forking out any cash!

Taking this happiness hack a step further, consider looking for sales on gift cards – sometimes the grocery store has a special deal or card resale sites like Gift Card Granny.  You could but a card every now and again and tuck them away for next summer!

I sure hope these happiness hacks from June 2017 gave you some ideas – and please, let me know if you try them – or better yet, what your favorite happiness hacks are! I’d love to include them in my July Happiness Hacks post!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe at jenniferwolfe.net.

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    1. Yes- I haven’t listened to S Town yet but it’s on my phone! To get them you go to the podcast app on your phone – it’s purple – and click the search button. When you see a title you want just subscribe! xoxo

  1. Oh, what a great idea!!! This falls in line with keeping a gratitude log/journal. When we reflect on the things that bring us joy life becomes more satisfying. As a fellow podcast addict, I will be sure to check it out. Another fav on my list is The Simply Luxurious Life podcast, love it!! Thanks for sharing!!

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