Where Is Your Happy Place?

Where is your happy place?Sometimes life and other people can get to us causing us to feel stressed, anxious and generally unhappy.  What to do?  While there are tons of ways of dealing with this, we generally want to get to our happy place.

What and where is your happy place?  How do you get there?

Before

If you’re driving to work in rush hour traffic, thinking and stressing about all that faces you when you get to the office, it would be almost impossible to have a relaxed and productive day.  The stress would carry through the day, probably escalating as you dealt with each difficult person and challenging situation.  Then you would further increase the stress on the drive home through another rush hour of traffic and annoying drivers while you dwelled on the day at the office and stressed about all you had to accomplish. 

You would bring all the stress and anxiety of the day home to your family.  By this time your nerves are fried and having a great conversation with your partner would be almost impossible.  Instead, you would probably want to eat something quick and comforting (and generally unhealthy) while you vegged out in front of the television.  Then you would go to bed and wake up the next day to repeat the process.

Isn’t there a better way?  Of course there is.  You just have to slow down enough to get there.

We’re always in such a hurry to get somewhere, accomplish and achieve more and more.  It’s rare that we slow down enough to ask where we’re really going.

After

Imagine this scenario instead.

You’re driving to work in rush hour traffic, thinking about the great conversation you had with your partner over a healthy breakfast and how to solve the problems that you know are facing you when you get to the office.  While you’re at work you work through your priorities in a relaxed and focused state.  Interactions with others are peaceful.  By the end of the day you feel good about all that you accomplished.  During the drive home in rush hour traffic you’re thinking about the great dinner you’ll have with your family, your children’s big, loving eyes and the time you’ll spend on your passion.

The Mind Game

What’s the difference between the two scenarios?  Nothing in the outside world changed.  Traffic and things at home and at the office were identical.  The entire difference was a change in your attitude and the things you focused on. 

The difference is all in your head.  Literally.

How do you make the leap between the two scenarios?  By learning to get to your happy place on a regular basis.

Calming Down Your Mind

We sometimes think of a happy place as a physical place and it can certainly be that.  Taking a walk in nature.  Playing with our kids.  Having coffee and a great conversation with a friend.

But we can’t limit our ability to find a happy place to something physical.  We need to be able to carry it around with us wherever we go so it’s there whenever we need it.

How do we do this?

The most important first step is to slow down enough to become aware of our thoughts.  Grab your monkey mind by the neck and let it know that you’re not going to let him run amok in your head any longer.

When you start feeling stressed and anxious, stop and take three deep breaths.  Stress and anxiety are types of fear.  Ask yourself what you’re fearing.  Face it.  Address it right then and come up with an action you can take to diffuse it.

  • Getting to work late and your boss will be angry?  Start leaving 10 minutes earlier.
  • Dealing with a difficult boss or co-workers?  Realize that these people have issues that you can’t control.  It’s all about them, not you.
  • Completing a big project well and on time?  Know that every day you’re doing your best.  Perfection is impossible (and a huge waste of time and your energy).  Your best will change from day to day but as long as you’re doing your best, that’s the best you can do.
  • Having too much to do?  Limit your to do list to no more than three things every day because that’s realistically all you’ll be able to accomplish – and sometimes that’s a stretch.  Changing your expectations changes your perception of what you do accomplish and allows you to feel better.

Happy Places

Now that you’ve slowed things down and given your mind more productive things to think about, you can move to your happy place.

Who or what makes you incredibly happy?

Take a moment to do these things in your mind now. 

Close your eyes. 

Relax all of your muscles. 

Clear your mind. 

Take a few deep breaths.

Now go to your own private happy place in your mind.  See, hear, smell, feel yourself in your happy environment.

Spend a few minutes there. 

You might feel like you can’t if you’ve got a lot going on.  The world – your world – won’t come crashing down if you stop for a few minutes.  It’s the same amount of time it would take you to go to the bathroom.  Maybe go to the bathroom to do this so you’ll have the privacy and you won’t have to worry about what others might think.

We all need to spend more time in our happy places.

How can you prioritize spending time in your physical happy place more often?

Set reminders in your calendar to go to your virtual happy place throughout your day.

You’ll be amazed at how this simple exercise can transform your days and your life.  You’ll have more energy.  You’ll have a more positive outlook.  Your relationships will benefit from your increased positivity.

How do you get to your happy place?  How does doing this impact your life?  I’d love to learn your perspectives.

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  1. My first thought, even as I began to read this post was “soul-mate”. Eerie feeling. There was a time I would post that post it on my blog if I was going to take a 2 day break (yes, I actually tried posting daily). Then of course, life intervened, I prioritized and realized I did not HAVE to do anything. :-)

    From time to time, I posted mental vacation tips, stay-cation tips, little things that can bring pleasure posts….and you know what, Paige? They all work. There’s nothing greater than the satisfaction of realizing something on our own – especially when it works like a charm. And yes, it IS all in the head. The power of positive thought.

    There’s more to us than the Sept 27 (and Google) connection, I believe. I am excited how we think similar – and often, express similar. Blessed to know you, Paige!

    As always, loved the post!
    Vidya Sury recently posted..The Haiku Challenge 2012 – Day 29 – JourneyMy Profile

    • The Universe has brought us together for a reason. Hmmmm.

      Yes, it’s amazing how small shifts in our thinking can make such a dramatic change in our lives. I did that a few days ago. After struggling with (and resisting changing) a sense of overwhelm, my stressful side finally gave into my wiser mindful self. My stressful self “gave up” and decided to finally go with the flow. All of a sudden, all the things that I somehow couldn’t find time for were easy to accomplish. I stopped wasting so much time and precious energy on stress. It’s frustrating when I watch myself do silly things like that (and drag them out) knowing better. The more I practice, the better it gets. At least I have a clear awareness.

      I just need to follow more of my own advice. Like you said, these little things really work.

      Thank you so much and I’m very blessed for knowing you as well Vidya!

    • Those sound like some wonderful places, Tess! I can identify with being in nature as I live in the woods so I’m surrounded by it. You’ve just inspired me to make sure that my kids know that they can access their own happy place any time.

      Thank you Tess!

  2. “When you start feeling stressed and anxious, stop and take three deep breaths. … Ask yourself what you’re fearing. Face it. ” GREAT advice! Like you say, it’s too easy to get swept up into the fear/stress and it takes that mindful choice to stop & breathe. – and like you say then enter the happy place to nestle into a positive place, rather than revert back to the stress & fear.
    Aileen | Kaizen Vision recently posted..How to Enjoy Valentine’s Day without a ValentineMy Profile

    • Exactly Aileen! It seems that we put ourselves in hurry mode all the time and have a hard time realizing that we have the ability to slow ourselves down. It’s another choice. Slowing down enough to become aware of what’s really going on inside of us is the critical first step to positive change.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Paige….I love the term happy place….it’s both playful and concise…

    At one time, I might have been more certain about my happy places….gardening, playing cello/piano, being with family and close friends, writing, rowing, reading etc.

    But the truth is….even when I do those activities, it doesn’t mean that I’m always happy. There are times that I’m frustrated, sad, scattered, anxious, etc. Even when I row early morning, the first thing I do after my spiritual practice, I can feel myself rushing because I get myself into a pressure zone. When that happens, I have a talk with myself, take some deep breaths, and then row with intent. It’s usually helpful..

    A lot of my happy places happen spontaneously. This morning, I needed to go shopping because I’m having my family over for dinner tonight. It is cloudy, cold and raining on and off. Normally, I would try to get it done as quickly as possible. Not this morning. On the way over to my butchers, i was breathing in the foliage and the beauty of my surroundings. At the patisserie, I had to wait 15 minutes to buy a dessert. On another day, I might have been frustrated and walked out. Not today. I felt like I was in a French comedy. All of us in line started talking, talking about life, patience, the rhythm of Iiving in Tel Aviv. When I finally walked out, I had a huge grin on my insides. The story continued. I felt like I had just landed upon an impromptu celebration….it was magnificent.

    And/but taking photos of my winter garden with one sunflower in my bloom for a post I’m doing tomorrow at Gardening Gone Wild touched my soul.

    Great post Paige…keep ‘em coming :) Fran
    Fran Sorin recently posted..20 Quotes To Inspire Faith …And Usher In SpringMy Profile

    • Fran,

      You have beautifully demonstrated how to put yourself in your happy place in your mind, regardless of where you are physically. And how physical places don’t always make us happy. It’s all in how we see it.

      I loved the story of the wait at the patisserie! I almost feel like I was there. Just reading your story gave me a grin on my insides. :)

      Thank you so much and many blessings!

  4. I am blessed to wake up to the ocean and it’s beauty every single day – so for me my HAPPY PLACE is my condo -as I write this I hear the morning birds, the seagulls and am looking at the stillness of both the Harbor and the ocean this morning – it’s beauty, it’s vastness, it’s calm – all in perfect order with the sun rising above the water….

    Happy Place indeed – I believe in my happy place and cherish that I go there throughout the day – life is too precious to waste it on worry and anxiety – living in the moment – I often look down at my feet and where my feet are is where my happy place is for I am alive and well!

    Thank you for these wonderful tips and I love the part about shortening your to do list – so TRUE!

    In gratitude,
    Nancy
    Nancy Shields recently posted..ARE YOU WALKING ON EGGSHELLS WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?My Profile

    • Nancy,

      I love your description of your environment! I spent much of my life near the ocean and wondered if I would miss it when I moved to Colorado. While being at the shore always moves me, there’s an amazing amount of beauty in the mountains.

      And you’re so right about your happy place being wherever your feet are. If our mind and emotions aren’t in a good place, it doesn’t matter where we are physically. Being happy is a decision.

      Thanks so much for your beautiful comment Nancy!

  5. Finding this blog post by you was so incredibly timely for me. Maybe the cosmos are aligning planets for me and a higher power is whispering in my ear.

    The past week or so been exceptionally stressful, on top of having a newborn baby and 16 month old (and a 10 year old and 16 year old) at home and recently making a transition from the “corporate world” to staying home (who knew attaining one of my dreams would be so stressful??) and being scared about the financial impact this will have on my family – everything kind of peaked for me last night when I couldn’t fall asleep to save my life. Around 3 am my husband finally confronted me to try to understand what was going on. We only talked for maybe a half hour since it was the middle of the night and my worries and stress had nothing to do with him or our relationship… but apparently getting it off my chest was all I really needed because I was able to finally fall asleep after our talk. It isn’t often that I allow “life” to get to me like that and so I was throwing my proverbial hands in the air and called a time out so I could take a step back and a deep breath and get centered again (find my happy place!).

    I’m happy to report that although I’m tired from only getting around 2.5 hours of sleep, I’ve got a refreshed perspective that is less gloom & doom and more positive. Hopefully I can maintain it, and if I start to slip – I hope I can grab myself by the shoulders and give myself a firm shake to get back on track before it sends me into another sleepless night. :-)

    Awesome blog! I’m so glad I stumbled in here! :-)
    Sheri Miesner Phegley recently posted..3 Tips to Control Your Anger & Take Control of Your LifeMy Profile

    • Wow Sheri! You’ve definitely got your hands full! Caring for a newborn with all the other kids and taking that big leap on the career/financial side are a lot to handle all at once.

      Over the past few years I’ve definitely been on a roller coaster on the financial side (while raising babies). One of the best tools I’ve found in handling all these fears is to play the worst case scenario game. I talk about it in more detail in my post titled The Easiest Way to Get What You Want From Life (http://www.simplemindfulness.com/2011/10/02/get-what-you-want/). It’s a wonderful tool and stops the mind from spinning in fearful places.

      I may be able to help you sleep by calming your mind but there’s not much I can do about the little one. :)

      Sweet, happy dreams Sheri!!

  6. This is great advice Paige..

    I do my best to live in the present moment and not let things bother me. Of course I have my moments just like anyone else but what gives me the most comfort in changing my attitude is my dog. I know, I just look in her eyes and love on her a little and all my troubles seem to fade away. She brings me back to what I’m grateful for so all those things I was thinking about before seem to fade away.

    That’s what works best for me. :-)
    Adrienne recently posted..How To Install A YouTube Widget On Your BlogMy Profile

    • Adrienne,

      Our furry friends can work miracles for us. I’ve done a lot of therapeutic work with horses (helping people) and I always felt like it was just as much calming and centering therapy for me as it was for the participants.

      I’ve seen your dog pass by in one of your videos and I thought she was so perfect for you. She looks like such a sweetie!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Adrienne!

  7. Hi Paige,
    We sure are on the same page here! I feel like you read my mind!! My happy place is my home. But lately I’ve spent too much time on the computer neglecting everything my home is about!! So I spent this week in my home, kind of taking a mini vacation, enjoying all the things that I’ve missed when I’m too busy, like reading, drinking coffee, taking walks and planning my spring vegetable garden, even organizing a closet!! Facebook, twitter and the readers of my blog didn’t even miss me! Today, I feel revived and ready to take on the world again.

    Thanks for this great post!!
    Betsy at Zen Mama recently posted..A Dark And Stormy Night Miracle!My Profile

    • After reading your latest post, I felt exactly the same way. I actually told my husband that we needed to take a few days off for a stay-cation (and maybe kill the electricity on purpose, just for good measure).

      I’ve been consciously working to create more balance between all my computer time for my job and blog and face time with my family. The other day I sat down on the sofa next to my 8 year old son and asked him if he thought I worked too much (I work on my laptop at the dining room table). He shook his head “yes.” I asked him what else I should be doing. He said, “Spend more time with us.” I almost cried. I told him that I would definitely do that. Looking into their big, blue, dreamy eyes….I suddenly felt no urge to go back to the computer screen.

      Betsy, we’re so often on the same wavelength. We should get together some time since we live kind of close to each other.

      Have an energized day!

    • Thank you so much Sibyl! We tend to live our lives on autopilot so much of the time. Sometimes we forget how effective slowing down and noticing what we’re thinking and doing can be toward making positive changes.

      Have an awesome day!!

  8. My happy place is my local park – Regents Park in central London. Anytime I go there I feel just so grounded, happy and ready to take on the world.

    Best of all, I do a lot of my writing there. I wrote my second book Get the Life you Love in the “Secret Garden” in Regents Park a few summers ago. It’s called the secret garden because that’s what it – I can’t even tell you where it is;-).
    Arvind Devalia recently posted..Why We Must All Listen to this MotorBike Crazy Mystic!My Profile

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    • Thank you Sylviane!

      Yes, ever day can be a perfect day. It’s all in how we look at it. We also need to know when to pull back into our happy place before we let the world get to us.

      Here’s wishing you a Perfect Day!!

  11. Hi Paige
    This was a great post. The idea of perception and choosing our reactions is amazing is it not? No matter what is happening on the outside, it is our perception that determines how we feel about it. I have found meditation, deep breathing and doing the emotional freedom technique to be incredibly helpful with these types of moments. I am only human and of course lose sight of these wonderful insights at times, but I am getting better at creating that space between pure awareness, which is what I am, and the thoughts and feelings that arise to things happening outside of me. Again, great post!
    kelli cooper recently posted..A Majority Opinion Does Not Always Mean the ”Right” OpinionMy Profile

    • Thank you so much Kelli!

      I agree that meditation, deep breathing and EFT are incredibly helpful in slowing down our minds and putting some objectivity into emotional situations. No one is perfect and we all lose sight of the simple tools that we carry around with us. That’s why they’re called “practices.” We keep practicing and refining but there is no perfect standard to achieve. Just do your best each day knowing that’s the best you can do.

      Happy practicing!

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  13. Naturally, I love the title–ha! While my true happy place is a place deep inside, my “outer” happy place is definitely my cabin in the mountains. Right on a creek in the forest. I love to sit by the creek in the summer, and in front of the fireplace in the winter. No phone or internet or TV. Ahhhhh.
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Rise and ShineMy Profile

    • That sounds like my kind of happy place Galen! When my husband and I were house hunting many years ago, we, too, wanted a house next to a creek. Unfortunately, so do many others as year-round creeks can double and triple property values here. I am sitting in front of the fireplace as I write this, though.

      I once managed a dude ranch with no phones, internet or TV (for guests). It was always amusing to see the different reactions from guests from this. Some people chose that ranch because of this. And then we had a group of lawyers from New York who thought it was the end of the world. It didn’t take them long to adapt, fortunately. :)

      So glad you found your happy places – inside and out!
      Paige Burkes recently posted..Slow Down Enough to Find Your FreedomMy Profile

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  19. My happy places, physical and mental are the parks and gardens of buddhist and taoist temples in SE-Asia. I’ve spend there a lost of time during my trips and visits of my wifes family. If I have stress or feel uncomfortable I do a small meditation and can instantly travel there in my mind, which makes me feel totally comfortable calm and relaxed.

  20. Recently, I was asked to define what happiness is. Well, I said as long as your at peace with yourself, your neighbor and your soul. Then you are at constant bliss!

  21. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old
    daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell
    to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab
    inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  22. You can also create your own Happy Place on your Smartphone with the My Happy Place app! Add anything that makes you happy in your happy place (music, photos, quotes, videos, journal entries)!

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