Imagine yourself in a specific situation during one of your daily routines. What was your expression then? Were you contented, or simply trying to get through the task at hand? If you were enjoying a bellyful of laughs then, give yourself a pat on the back. That probably means you encounter more positivity than the average urbanite in Malaysia.
​Too many channels of communications have opened up for us in this age, so much so that many of us become entirely absorbed in multiple digital devices at a time in order to exact any feeling of fulfilment. What can change that, you ask? Get physical! In the very wise and catchy lyrics sung by Oliver Newton-John, we are needful of the physical touch – human company and a carefree moment or two that satiates our desires. Here are some suggestions from my collective memories and those of friends over the years that have served to tickle our funny bones.

  1. Create an agenda to your liking. What activity comes to mind that makes you anticipative of the event? It could be a picnic expedition by a waterfall, a morning hike that is followed by a kopitiam brunch, or even a boisterous karaoke session that highlights the best boy/girl band wannabe! Start small, something easily doable over the weekend, then expand the idea to include acquaintances with hobbies or interests akin to yours. It is a chance to gather and be merry. I remember an ex colleague once volunteered the idea of a vegetarian barbecue. Pushing aside initial doubts about its feasibility, we speared a couple of corn-on-the-cobs, mushrooms, bread, marshmallows… and toasted to the weekend. The turnout was fine, and that evening cooked up many more opportunities to get together.
  2. Go offline. ​In my last exploration of a Toys“R”Us outlet, every aisle brought forward playtime ideas with friends and gift suggestions for adults and children alike. There were games to fling cream pie in someone’s face, build-it-yourself solar robots…and the list goes on. Offline games almost always bring to mind board games, and yes they can be a load of hilarity! Watch your friend turn blue in the face as they tackle the word “skyscraper” in a game of taboo and chances are they’ll start raising their arms and miming Usain Bolt in his moment of victory.
  3. It is easy being green. Did you know that the colour green soothes our eyes? Studies have shown that spending a mere 20 minutes outdoors not only encourages a positive mood, but also broadens our way of thinking and improves working memory. That’s not to say we should step outside and hug the nearest tree. Spare us the antics and simply take a moment to appreciate the greenery that’s been planted by our beloved city councils… or you could also enjoy a portable moment of green in a potted shrub on your work table.
  4. Expand your colour palate. Colours not only have a soothing effect on us, they also visually perk up our moods and aid us in our gut nutrition. Envision a bowl of sustenance that encompass all the colours of a rainbow: red peppers, orange bits of tangerine, the yellow of a yolk, green romaine lettuce, blueberries, the indigo hue of purple cabbage and violet eggplant slices. Doesn’t that make a pleasing sight and make you salivate at the same time? I won’t even begin to compute the levels of antioxidants that your body will celebrate upon receiving.
  5. Pamper yourself physically. No time is better than the present to take a critical examination of the outer shell that people see. Whatever your physical complaint, there isn’t much a long soak in the tub can’t cure. A basic scrub and bath bombs provide the perfect combo for beginners. What if you get the sequence wrong, you ask? I say you come out smelling of roses anyway, so 10 brownie points go to you.
  6. Re-ignite childhood passions. 
    Did you have any passions you tinkered around with whilst you were a toddler? Lego is a popular answer. A friend volunteered hopscotch drawn in chalk and five stones; or what is better known as Batu Seremban to those of us born and bred here. Whichever game tickled your fancy, who’s to say we can’t emulate those times today in an adult setting? Small ideas often grow into fun and bedlam with the right stimuli.
  7. Get back your groove. No, my first thought wasn’t a club rave with popping bulbs and come hither eyes across the dance floor. I’m envisioning a setting where you can be most at ease with yourself – at home. Where can you find rhythm, you ask? Play your favourite music genre and get to your chores. You’ll be surprised to discover many familiar rhythms that were tuned out and now revived, because we were in such a haste to grow up and leave our inner child behind. Waltz with the mop, rap like Kriss Kross and laugh at yourself. It’s okay to laugh at your own expense.
  8. Reward yourself with an everyday luxury item. 
    Been admiring a Bose telephone design or a pricey kitchen gadget? Reward yourself. Because delayed gratification pays off in the long run, and this gift to yourself is a reminder that you’ve invested in a future that paints a picture of luxury you ultimately deserve.
  9. Re-focus on people. Which are the faces that pop to mind when you recall the craziest, most carefree moments of yesteryear? Are you still in touch with them? Gather the tribe and reminisce on that episode. In the interim, you’ll discover the ones who really connect with you, the ones who are willing to fill in the blanks and others who are keen on activating Team Crazy. Will these be the same ones? You’ll see.
  10. 10. Release those endorphins. Know what also plays a primary part in heightening our sense of contentment? Intimacy. It could be an affirmative touch on the arm when chatting with another, a holding of hands, a hug or a kiss on the cheek. There is something about the physical touch that is healing –  the human touch that displays sensitivities and consideration for another. There surely isn’t anything wrong with humans craving a little intimacy?   

​These aren’t rules for a happier self or me absurdly suggesting that it is necessary to always surround yourself with pals or shiny items to make yourself happy. It is simply the reenactment of familiar, cheerful scenarios or the anticipation of something new that prompts the feeling of cheer. From that, your mind and body learn to recognise contentment, and regulate the endorphins that spring forth in these periods of your life when you were more carefree. We all have some idea or other that we could learn from one another. Have you tried anything out of the ordinary lately that made you happy? I’d love to hear all about it.

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