Am I wrong in thinking this is what we most need right now? Really, there’s been a lot to digest over the past week or so. I’m not going to rehash it all, because we have continuous news stations that will provide examples at any given moment. What I could use, and I’m guessing, you too, is a big old dose of the JOLLIES!
Guffawing, warmth, peace, hugs, ooey-gooey love, all up and over our everything. I found myself happily mesmerized by a video of a cat in a shark suit riding a vacuum cleaner this morning. And, truly, I am a committed dog person. This signaled to me the need for a spirit cleanse. STAT.
So, here are the best places I can think of to go on a Sunshine-for-the-Soul Safari. I have no doubt that you have many other ideas, and I would LOVE to hear them. Really, there will never be too many sources of jolly for this world.
1. Your Friends.
Let me qualify this suggestion, because not all people we consider friends will work here. I’m talking about the friends who are your true-blues. The ones who leave you feeling like you’re smart, gorgeous, kind, and loved. There may be one or two of these precious people in your life. If you have more, you should be buying lottery tickets regularly. It may also be that this friend happens to be a dog, a cat, or a bird. Frenemies, drama-seekers, and energy vacuums need not apply to the Soul-Sunshine Safari.
Once you identify and contact a friend of this rare and precious nature, combine with one of the following options, or just hang out for a talk. Better yet, have a talk while feeding your body some sort of delicious and healthy food. A double dose of yummy is always helpful.
2. Mother. Mother Nature, that is.
Get outside and breathe some fresh air. Contemplate clouds. Listen to water running. Look at a body of water, the bigger the better. Climb a hill. Sit under a big tree. Watch grass blow in the breeze. Let raindrops serenade you. Dive into the ocean. Let the sun caress your skin. Pick ripe fruit and take a big old bite. Harvest vegetables from a garden and eat them with a meal. Lie on the grass. Walk on the grass barefoot. Nature is a reliable source of peace and comfort. I’m not saying you’ll be giggling wildly as you sit in a forest. I’m pretty sure you’ll feel comforted, though. You are an important and lovely part of a very big picture.
3. Work it Out
The power of exercise to lift a mood is well established. That doesn’t mean you should go out for a long run if running isn’t your thing. Or take a Pilates class if it makes you feel uncoordinated and you watch the clock the whole time. Move joyfully. What feels like play to you? Do that! Even better, combine your happy workout of choice with one of the preceding suggestions and your results will be even better.
A good dance class taken with friends works wonders for me, and is my fallback. I once practiced yoga in the middle of a majestic redwood forest, chanting and all, and felt completely renewed. I might mention that this was with a group, all clothed, and in Mendocino County, where such an activity is totally acceptable and expected.
If an all-out sprint down the beach or around a track is cathartic to you, do that! If you need some cheer, get up off the couch and move around.
4. Laugh! A Lot!
Hang out with those people who inspire laughter. With whom you can let go and see the humor in everyday situations. My favorite is to hang out with friends and start laughing so hard, our laughter becomes a silent clucking, tears sliding down our cheeks, stomach muscles in a bind. That kind of laughter must be like medicine for our souls. Watch funny movies over dramas. Go out and sing karaoke with your people. Play Cards Against Humanity. But, only with people who already love you no matter what comes out of your mouth, please. This is a game that will get you rolling.
Alone and in need of a chuckle? Turn on your computer and search the word “funny”. Look through Netflix and Hulu for movies that make you laugh, or TV shows to make you smile. My kids and I keep a good supply of Ellen Degeneres on DVR for light comic relief. Whatever it is that takes you away from your worries for a bit should be kept at your fingertips for easy access. Important stuff.
5. Be Positive about Yourself
You are amazing! Own it! Live it! Self-depracation can be too much, really. I’m not saying you should go out and have a parade in honor of yourself, but make an effort to gracefully accept compliments and appreciation. When someone tells you how good you look in a certain color, or that your efforts have really paid off, say, “thank you.” Let it sink in and swish around until you are a little bit taller with a little more color in your cheeks. Save a little in your pocket for use at some later date. If no one is around to notice the excellent action you’ve taken, don’t be afraid to give yourself a little “nicely done!” and a smile.
Also, when you look in the mirror in the morning and your eyes immediately zero in on a percolating pimple, take your focus to your shiny teeth, to the definition in your shoulder, or to your sparkling eyes. See the good. There’s so much there.
Are the voices of doom chanting at you as you head off to give a talk or interview for a new job? Thank them for their concern, but remind them that you are a capable individual ready to succeed, but able to survive a fail. No need to scare yourself out of reaching farther or trying new things. Each day is an opportunity to step out a little farther from our limiting comfort zones.
6. Be Positive about Others Too
Gossip is another joy-kill. Eliminate any put-downs or criticism for a week and see how it affects you! I bet you’ll feel better about life. Remember that none of us are perfect, and we all do the best we are capable of doing at any given time. Appreciate that you may be having an easier day or life than that person who gunned it to beat you to a coveted parking space. It can’t be easy going around all day worried that there’s not enough. Wish that individual happiness and abundance. Lift others up whenever possible. Make karma your bestie and not that other “b” word.
I don’t know about you, but when I get less than my 7 hours of sleep, every issue of potential concern becomes a hairy monster breathing down my neck. I also tend to find everything exceedingly irritating. My behavior, I’m sure, is charming at these moments (ha!).
Sometimes, sleep is elusive when the world feels hostile or unsafe. In times like this, I love going to a guided meditation recording (thank you, Deepak and Oprah), or just listening to soothing music. Don’t forget to practice your slow, deep breaths. Read a happy book. Take a few minutes to rest with your legs up the wall before going to bed. End your screen time an hour before going to sleep. Make your room dark, and try to keep it cool.
Getting adequate sleep will make the previously discussed Soul Safari steps more accessible for you, and will lighten your load. What do you do to make your days happier?