Happiness: Step by Step

From baking a great cookie to entertaining a kid, these simple tips are the perfect formula for happiness

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Love Your Feet
Barry Walker, owner of the Raven Spa, treats the feet as the gateway to the body. According to the tenets of reflexology, a little time spent on your lowermost extremities can elevate your outlook.

  •   stepbystep_feet11. Stroke the sides and then the surfaces of the feet with your hands to stimulate blood flow. Next, use the thumbs and alternate pressure along the arches of the feet. No tickling allowed. 
  •   stepbystep_feet2 2. This may surprise you (it did us), but according to Walker, toes are toxic. Pinch the tips hard to release the toxins. Then, using your thumb, rub the ball of your big toe.
     
     
  •  stepbystep_feet33. Make a fist and knead the soles using medium pressure, moving in small semicircles. Open your hands and press down on the pads of the feet with your palms. Start at the heel and work upward.


Bake a Great Cookie
We all love cookies, and even noncooks have likely baked a batch or two. But what determines a superior treat? Annie Miler, owner and chief pastry chef at Clementine, offers tips for making outrageously good chocolate chip cookies.

  •   stepbystep_cookie11. Choose flour depending on your taste. All-purpose flour produces thicker, more cakey cookies. Pastry flour yields more delicate, crunchy cookies like those at Clementine.
  •   stepbystep_cookie22. Don’t overcream the butter, and don’t skimp on good chocolate (Miler uses Valrhona extra noir 53%).
     
     
  •  stepbystep_cookie33. Freeze the dough balls before baking them for that crisp-on-the-edges, soft-in-the-middle effect. 


Quiet Your Mind
Marvin Belzer, an instructor at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, says that if you want to improve your mood, make time to meditate. Even a few minutes a day can sharpen concentration and help manage stress and chronic pain.

  •   stepbystep_mind11. Find a space with few distractions. Close your eyes and relax your breathing. Focus on the physical sensations of breath.
  •   stepbystep_mind22. It’s easier said than done, but stop thinking. If an emotion comes forward—anxiety? anger?—don’t attach to it. Let it float by and disappear.
     
     
  •  stepbystep_mind33. Notice any tension or changes in breathing. If your mind feels overwhelmed, return your attention to your breath. In. Out. In. Out.


Step By Step: Entertain a Kid
Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, spends a lot of time with children. For one thing, he has two of his own. Then there are his fans, who clamor to hear his character’s Flipper-like laugh. He shares his formula for juvenile fun.

  •   stepbystep_kid11. According to Kenny, it is the rare child who “doesn’t enjoy watching muscle-bound masked guys beating each other up.” At fmll.net or socaluncensored.com, find out when a lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) match is taking place.
  •   stepbystep_kid22. When you arrive at the match, load up on essentials: masks, mini air horns, tacos. Opt for a ringside seat, but be prepared to dodge sweaty lucha-dores (wrestlers)—and dwarfs. Try to score an autograph. “I’ve seen a guy get tossed into a pile of folding chairs, then get up and start signing for the kids.”
     
     
  •  stepbystep_kid33. Don’t be quiet. Cheer the técni-cos (the good guys) and hiss the rudos (the bad guys). The announcements are in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak the language, Kenny promises, you’ll be able to follow the action. “It’s not really layered storytelling,” he says.

Illustrations by Jason Lee

 

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