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?
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.
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.
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?
- Spending fun time with your family or friends
- Interacting with your passion
- Spending quiet time in solitude
- Exercising or simply moving your body
- Travelling to fabulous places.
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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Learn how I manage three little kids, a husband, job, writing and taking care of myself - all with mindfulness. Check out my latest guest appearance: a podcast interview at Manifested Happiness: How To Be Mindful When You're Too Busy
The Mindful Body program includes many ideas that you can use every day to avoid gaining extra weight while keeping your energy and spirits high. It’s also a great gift to share with the special people in your life.