A few months back, I was waiting in the checkout line when I overheard this conversation:
Cashier: This is some great weather we’re having. I hear it’s supposed to last all week!
Customer: Yeah, but it’s supposed to rain on Saturday though. Can you believe it? My one day off!
This conversation took place on a Monday. Instead of enjoying running errands in the sun, the customer was already feeling bitter about the bad weather five days in advance!
It can be easy to slip into a negative mindset and let it color everything around you. After all, life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops. And when you get into that frame of mind, it’s really tough to snap out of it. Forcibly trying to cheer yourself up rarely works.
I’m not always the world’s most cheerful person, but I find it helps to build up happiness credits in advance to bolster myself, instead of wandering around in neutral and letting every negative thing get me down. I think of them as happiness rituals. They’re usually little things that put me in a more positive/playful mindset, or trigger a happy memory.
Here are a few of the ones I use:
The Elevator Dance
I live in a high rise, so taking the elevator is a part of everyday life. If my husband and I get on and we’re alone, he starts to sing, and we both start to dance like idiots. (This usually happens to the theme music of Boston Legal for some reason…)
Whenever the elevator stops at another floor to pick someone up, we suddenly stop before the door opens, and try to act natural. (Hint: Avoid eye contact with your partner in crime if you don’t want to burst out laughing for no apparent reason.)
The Squidge (Rhymes with ‘fridge’)
(OK, I do not mean this the way the Urban Dictionary defines it…)
We don’t have a car, so we walk pretty much everywhere, or take public transportation. There’s this playground nearby that’s built on top of this mound of squidgy stuff that kids can fall on and not get hurt, I guess. Anyway, it feels weird under your feet when you walk on it.
Sometimes, to break up the monotony of all the walking, one of us will ask, “Wanna take the squidge today?” We alter our route, and spend some time enjoying the squishy bounciness beneath our feet. (Which sometimes earns us some weird looks from the parents who bring their kids there. Obviously, they haven’t tried it for themselves. )
Mucho Burrito Flashbacks
I walk by a Mucho Burrito restaurant pretty much every day. They have these outdoor speakers that are always playing Mexican/Latino tunes. Whenever I hear them, I let my mind wander back to the great times I’ve had in Playa del Carmen, sidling up to the poolside bar to order mango tangos while the same music was playing in the background. (This is really helpful in winter when it’s -30C!)
These are all little things, but they really help to lift my mood. And by making them an ingrained habit, I’m conditioning myself to be happier every time I come across one of my ritual triggers. (Which is pretty much every day.) So even if I’m going through a tough time, I still have built-in moments that make me smile and challenge my mindset.
What are YOUR happiness rituals?
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