“Why won’t I let myself be happy?” That was the question came out of her heart, down her arm, into her pen, and onto her journal. The question surprised her. “Good question,” she pondered. “Why won’t you? What is stopping you?”
She had never considered that her own happiness could be under her control or that her unhappiness could be a result of how she viewed herself and the world. The more she thought about it, the more awake she became. She began to commit to owning her life and happiness. Her energy began to change. She became enlivened and full of hope.
She was determined to lighten up.
There is a rhythm and balance to life. During our lifetime, we experience many ups and downs. There are times to be serious and times to be silly. Times when we are sick and times when we are well (or, at least, not as sick.) Times to laugh and times to cry. How do we best navigate life so that we can travel through it keeping some semblance of resilience and sanity? I’ve compiled three areas we can work on to make the navigation a little easier.
1. Laugh a little (or preferably, a lot.)
Laughter is good for the soul and body. It can be infectious. Laughter can snap you out of fear, depression, anxiety, etc.
Here are some physical benefits of laughter:
- Increases oxygen to the heart, lungs and muscles.
- Increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in response to pain or stress, this group of peptide hormones both relieves pain and creates a general feeling of well-being.https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/endorphins-the-brains-natural-pain-reliever
- Improves your mood and reduces physical pain by transitioning your body into a relaxed, healing state.
- Brings out the best in you so you show up more authentically in the world.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.Proverbs 17:22
How do you incorporate more laughter into your day? Here are just a few suggestions:
- Gather your family or friends, grab a joke book, and tell jokes to each other. Silly, but effective. Laughter and silliness go together like peanut butter and jelly, Jeeves and Wooster, higgledy and piggledy, topsy and turvy, razzle and dazzle, itty and bitty…
- Watch videos of your favorite comedians.
- Read books and speeches written by funny people.
Observe, I do not mean to suggest that the custom of lying has suffered any decay or interruption, -no, for the Lie, as a Virtue, a Principle, is eternal: the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man’s best and surest friend, is immortal, and cannot perish for the earth while this Club remains. My complaint simply concerns the decay of the art of lying.“On The Decay Of The Art of Lying” was a speech written by humorist Mark Twain in 1880 for a meeting at the Historical and Antiquarian club of Hartford, CT. It was first published in The Stolen White Elephant, Ect. in 1882.
- Watch little children at play. Children are less self-conscious than adults, so they say and do the funniest things.
- I hesitate to include this one because of it’s time killing capabilities, but those cute dog and cat videos on YouTube! Right?
- In the spirit of frivolity, laugh at the silly things you do. Laugh also at the silly things that others do, just as you can be sure that others are laughing at you when you do something dippy. If you have a tendency to be too serious, self-deprecating humor will help you to loosen up and put things in perspective. It also helps build humility.
“Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at!” cried Elizabeth. “That is an uncommon advantage, and uncommon I hope it will continue, for it would be a great loss to me to have many such acquaintances. I dearly love a laugh.”
“Miss Bingley,” said [Darcy], “has given me more credit than can be. The wisest and the best of men—nay, the wisest and best of their actions—may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke.”
Elizabeth to Mr. Darcy: “Certainly,” replied Elizabeth—“there are such people, but I hope I am not one of them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise and good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can. But these, I suppose, are precisely what you are without.”Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Not everything has to be life-endangering or threatening. Finding little things to laugh over, especially in a self-deprecating way, will help to navigate even the gravest situations.
2. Strive to become a better listener.
People have a need to be seen and heard, but not judged. When we are speaking, telling our story, or sharing how we feel, we don’t need to be fixed or are necessarily asking advice from others. What we really want is to be seen and heard. We simply need a witness to what we are thinking and feeling.
Some people think to speak. Some people speak to think.
Our brains never stop thinking. Speaking aloud helps some people to process what they are thinking, feeling, and choosing. We are thinking, feeling, and choosing all of the time. Speaking kindly, gently or harshly, judgmentally not only influences the listener, but the person speaking, as well, for when the words are spoken, they come back around into your own ears and into your subconscious mind and soul, and they either edify or harm you.
By listening to others and to yourself, you can begin to see things that you’ve never seen before. You will discover new insights, ways of thinking, and patterns that are helpful in bringing more awareness into your life. Awareness is the first step towards transformation. If you don’t “see” it, you can’t transform it.
Deep listening requires you to be quiet and introspective. It’s a way of investigating. Ask other people questions, and then stop and listen. Listen not only with your head but with your heart.
Look at the person in front of you. What are they not saying with their words but are screaming with their body language? Are you truly, deeply listening to them? Or are you checking out? Are you daydreaming? Or are you looking for a way to escape? Are you thinking about what you are going to say next, thereby missing what is being said by the other person? Are you trying to run away from something or are you just bored?
Writing is a good way to listen to yourself. Sit down, pen in hand, and write. Don’t stop. Keep your hand moving. If you don’t know what to say, well, say that. “I don’t know what to say,” and just keep writing. You will begin with nonsense and uninteresting content, but if you keep your hand moving, you will eventually get beneath the surface and write whatever needs to be said. This will help you to find your true voice and unearth your true feelings as well as get to the source of those feelings.
3. Do something creative every day, even if it is just for 10 minutes. Thirty would be better. An hour, bliss.
Creativity and self-expression are forms of play. Play is so important to our lives, even as adults. The act of playing puts us in a relaxed, healing state. We enter into a zone where the rest of the world disappears. There is an intense focus that blocks everything out other than what we are creating. It’s also fun. It is fulfilling as it connects us with the best of who we are, so long as we don’t also tap into the perfectionistic part of us.
Everyone is creative. There are no exceptions. If you think you are uncreative, that is only because you have not discovered your creative side. There are endless ways to be creative: cooking, drawing, painting, flower arranging, dancing, playing an instrument, metalworking, leathercraft, gardening, stamping, quilting, photography, theater, beading, knitting, decorating, and so much more.
Another idea – once a week, go on an “artist date” by yourself as suggested by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. This is meant to be a solitary event, something you do alone. Every week, go somewhere that brings you joy, such as a zoo, an art museum, an art store. Go window shopping, go out in nature to draw or journal. Something, anything that brings you joy. The purpose of this is to get in touch with the playful part of yourself, the part that is your creative child.
Above all, be kind to yourself first, and then to others. Also, be patient. Patience and kindness go hand-in-hand. And while you are at it, add in a little gentleness.
Go gently. And have fun!
When exhausted women ask, “Why am I so tired all the time?” I help them to explore their story to see what has happened in the past that is draining their energy today.
You don’t need to do this alone. You can begin to tackle some of those deep-rooted issues you’ve been brushing under the carpet for years.
When working with me, I will give you the guidance, compassion, and support you need. I have been through a great deal of trauma in my own life, so I know how isolating, confusing, and sad it can be. If you would like to talk about your own experiences with someone who understands, I am only a click away.
Book a call HERE to learn more about how we can work together. I would love to meet you and hear your story.