Leap Year? I’m not exactly jumping for joy right now…

It’s February 29, and like many people, I feel the blues sneaking up at me. The sky is grey, and it feels like winter might never end.  This year, February came at me so hard that it gave me a whole extra day at the end of a week with a head cold so that I could really appreciate how utterly uninspired I could feel.

Okay, that is QUITE enough of that.

Let’s take care of the basics. Get up. Wash up. Take a multivitamin. Get some exercise, even if it is a short walk around the block. Turn on some music. Shake your head free of this cobwebby space, and let’s go looking for something positive to do.

The Pale Blue Dot Foundation isn’t just about the grand gestures. Yes, it feels wonderful to make the major grant to a cause you support, but there are many small ways you can take action to make the your life, and the world around you, a little bit better, a little bit brighter.

Look through the list of ideas below and find one that you want to try today. These ideas don’t take any special preparation or equipment, so there should be something that you feel comfortable giving a whirl.

A starter pack of ways to take positive action right now…

  • Smile at someone. Don’t laugh, this is incredibly effective. Give someone a smile. You’ll see that many people will quickly loosen up and return the smile. The more often you smile at other people, the more likely you are to find your own mood lifting. This is an incredibly cheap and easy fix for a bad day. If you want to go next-level, try paying someone an honest compliment. If you see someone doing something really great, don’t shy away from giving them a compliment. You can give out compliments for basically everything, you only need to seize the opportunity.

  • You have a lot to be thankful for. Pay it forward. Pay the toll for the person behind you. Pay a stranger’s bill at a coffee shop or behind you in line at the drive-through. Pay for $50 worth of the next person’s groceries when you’re shopping. Buy a meal or a coffee for a homeless person.

  • Be nice to customer service personnel. Take the time and effort to treat service personnel kindly and be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their service. It can greatly brighten their mood, especially when they are confronted with ungrateful, harsh and impolite customers all the time. Be the person who makes them remember that their job does make a difference to each person they help, even if only for a few minutes.

  • Say thank you. If you practice regular gratitude, you will find that not only does it make those around you feel valued and appreciated, you will notice that you will start to feel happier overall. Write a positive review of good businesses. Local business owners can need all the support they can get. If you’ve come across a business whose owner does an incredible job, it’s time to spread the word. Tell someone they made a difference in your life. There are many kindhearted people out there who give without asking for anything in return. If you’ve ever benefited greatly from someone’s kind actions, let them know! Here’s a list of forty different ways you can practice gratitude.

  • Perform random acts of kindness. Take the time to visit this site, as they have an incredible list of ideas to spark your creativity!

  • Clean up something. Go out and pick up trash on your street, in a park, along a road or a waterway. Make a small patch of this planet just a bit better. All you need are a pair of gloves and a garbage bag. You don’t need to be part of a large cleanup crew on a special day. Walk out on a random day and tidy a space up on your own. You can do it as a one time thing, or consider trying to make it a habit, bringing a bag with you each time you step out the door to walk to the neighbours, park or bus stop.

  • Sign up to be an organ and tissue donor. Register your consent for organ and tissue donation and talk to your family about your wishes. It only takes two minutes to change someone’s life.

  • Save a life. Give blood. Half of all Canadians will either need blood or know someone who needs it. The need is constant. Book now to donate blood. It’s something you can do today to ensure someone else is waking up healthy tomorrow.

  • Give to the local food bank. You can tackle this a couple different ways. The easiest is to go through your cupboards and look for things that you could bring to your local food bank drop off location. This is a good start, but if you want to be even more effective, you make a one time or recurring financial contribution, volunteer your time, or go out and do a special grocery trip to pick up the most needed items at food banks, so that they get what they really need, instead of what you have left over. For more information, visit Food Banks Canada, or one of the ten provincial sites they have linked at the bottom of their home page

  • Donate toys. There are many charities that accept used toys (resell charities such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army; local shelters and children’s centres; or charities like Toys For Tots), but if you really want a lift, get up and go on a special shopping trip. Heading out to a toy store and picking out specific items will help your mood enormously, and has the added bonus of giving a child a brand-new toy that was purchased just for them. Remember, toys for older children (10-17) are often the most in need.

  • Buy something from a kid’s lemonade stand. When you see a stand by the roadside selling lemonade, fruits and vegetables, or crafts, take the time to stop. Be sure to buy something from them, it will make them incredibly happy and gives them a sense of accomplishment.

  • Take a step back. Sometimes, just indulging in common courtesy can give you a bit of a lift. Give up your seat to an elderly person, a parent with children, or even just someone who looks like they need a break. If you’re standing in the line at the supermarket and you see that the person behind you is buying only a couple of things, let them go in front of you.

What are you waiting for?

Take a chance. One of those ideas had to be something you felt you had enough energy to try. Don’t wait until tomorrow, this is the day for you to chase those blues away.