Getting to my happy place.
Lately have begun to see that there’s no such thing. Instead of needing to go somewhere or some place that’s happy, I’ve been able to just stand around snatching up tiny bits of goodness no matter where I find myself. I’ve had to watch for them, though, because they ride on the backs of what looks like Really Very Not Happy.
We all have times we look back on… days or weeks we don’t want to revisit because times were not good. Maybe really bad. And sometimes the bad covered 100% of our state of mind at the time. Those are life’s singularly heart wrenching days. They leave scars that we need to honor, and they’re the circumstances we’d do anything to not find ourselves in again.
Never bury those too deep. They shape us in ways we can’t see and burying them just means we can’t see the contours of ourselves.
But for many of us, especially those of us reading blogs on expensive laptops or smartphones, our lives aren’t regularly interrupted by the most relentless tsunamis. Yes, we have less than stellar days, but they’re probably not in the majority. Small slip ups. Accidents. Okay, sure. There are even times that try our patience and very sanity. We also call those ‘awful days’ but to attribute it to an entire day is a kind of lie we tell ourselves.
Breaking Down The Bad
I remember my first big teen aged breakup. Absolutely certain I was about to die because my heart was rasping against my chest, ripping it out seemed the only option. Had I been asked, I’d have pronounced Life Itself as AWFUL.
Of course, I now understand that it was a completely self-centered perspective. Oh, it was true enough if you were to take inventory of my mood during those days, but it was not the reality of how I actually lived for most of that time. Because in the days after the breakup, I met some of the most unselfish and amazing new friends who kept me entertained and preoccupied during one of the most fun filled times of my life. I still smile at the memories even though life was supposed to have been terrible, heartbreaking, and awful. Cherry on top? I also met an amazing guy though at the time was too busy sulking to recognize how wonderfully accommodating he really was.
My loss was that I was also too self absorbed to notice his attempts to inject wonder, awe, and lightness into my so-called torn up life.
But what did I just write about? A memory I framed as a very unhappy place and time. Even when there was an incredible amount of goodness woven throughout nearly every moment of it.
See how that works?
How I Find the Happy Place – Hint: It’s Everywhere
Here’s an exercise. I use it when I find myself bemoaning the horror that is my day (car’s in the shop, tripped and broke my favorite shoes, had to drive an hour out of the way, was late for every appointment, made a HUGE mistake.). Hope you find it useful too.
Call it out. Write it out. Just get the Bad Day Defined.
Hold it out so you can see it. Go ahead and have a field day listing exactly why the day was horrible. Don’t squash or bury the feeling because it’s an honest one. It’s there. You feel it. And it’s perfectly okay for it to be there. Do not try to fix it in any way. Scream. Kick your feet. Shake your fist at the heavens. Throw dirt. Cry and ruin your makeup. (don’t let it take longer than it needs to. Just get it done. Thoroughly.) But don’t splash any of it on social media where it can live in perpetuity. Please.
Next, review the day. Look for one small good thing. Then another.
They’re there, and you’ve got to list them out too. This is a gratitude exercise, except what you’ll also need to notice is the timing of the good and small things. When did they happen? Was the good mixed right up into the bad stuff?
Did you splash hot coffee all over your new shirt only to have a volunteer jump in to hunt down spot remover? Who and how many people held doors open for you? How many strangers smiled and said hello? Find anything good or kind.
This part’s important. Remember the details as vividly as possible and relive them. Post what you’re thankful for on social media by creating a “gratitude project” on your preferred sites. If you do, the good in your life will live in perpetuity.
Be sure to note whether the good things happened all at once, or peppered throughout the day. If you need to write down the times when each noteworthy good and awful thing happened, do that.
Next, look at the patterns. And the frequency.
Which category did most of the events fall into? Chances are that even on the bad days, there was more good than you initially remembered. And if there wasn’t, then use a bigger sample set of data. Map your week.
Note how the bad things seemed to be so personal, and the good, less so.
We have a habit of seeing ourselves as victims of ugly circumstance when things don’t go our way, and yet ignore that we are also victims of kindness, caring, helpfulness, and consideration. Or just plain serendipity. We especially ignore the kindnesses when we’ve zeroed in on things “all about us and our sad story”.
In the end, no matter which of the two lists above we ultimately choose to focus on, it’s still just a story we tell ourselves. We shape it and can change it.
Tell the one that hurts less.