Taking Steps to Happiness

Sometimes the day to day grind is a royal pain in my ass and frustration follows me around like a cliché that I can’t think of right now. And, mostly all the things that make me want to scream are out of my control. The only thing I can control is myself. This also reads like I’m about to toss a cliché in your general direction and this too makes me want to scream.

I recently had one of those crummy days. But, thankfully I have steps I take to make sure I can climb out of that trench of waist deep sewage.

Step One: Puppies

Go find a puppy. Dogs are better than humans. Walking away from work I saw a dog and his human. Funny thing is the doggo also eyed me. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared. I thought there must be a rabbit or maybe another dog walker behind me. I turned back. No rabbits. No dogs. Just me. The human tried to carry on but pooch was having none of it. The human kindly encouraged but he was digging his furry paws in and pulling towards me—hard. Weird—except that I love dogs and I believe they are magical. This furry beast was picking up my grumpy ass vibe. He knew exactly what I needed. The sweet canine came right up to me and rubbed up on my leg and sniffed and then gently put his paws on my thighs. I gave him a loving pat and scratched his ears. The lady was very accommodating and let us have our moment. I think he knew he’d turned my mood a little so he carried on. Dogs have that super power of shifting our human mood. If you don’t have a dog call on a friend who does. Kittens will do as well. Or a budgie. Something that can’t talk but loves without words. I promise you’ll feel the shift.

Step Two: Be creative

Go do something creative. Use the other part of your brain. It really wants to be used. In fact. I guarantee it’s often hollering at you but you don’t notice because you’re not listening. In that creative space resides a lot of good vibes. On the way home David called. He called because he wanted to share a story idea with me. He was excited and I joined in his enthusiasm because what he was pitching was a really good idea. It was fun and light. Interesting. And it was another potential idea we would get to grow! I love story! I love being creative and I love the hope of this other career. The conversation took me right out of that part of my head that was weighing me down. When our chat ended the scales were tipping. I was thinking about this idea David handed over to me.

Step Three: Food

Eat something delicious, slowly. Sometimes the lack of food makes me unapologetically hangry. Sometimes food is just delicious and soothes. It distracts. Your brains says “aaaaahhhhh I’ve had a shit day!!” Then you take a bite of pizza and your brain says “whoa, is that basil in the sauce? Brilliant!” See, it’s a sensory shift.

Now, there’s an added bit to this. If you could make your food you get this added bonus. It’s a creative process. So, potentially you could check two boxes by making and eating your food. This also falls into finding pleasure in the ordinary. I dumped my coat and went straight to the fridge. I took out vegetables and started chopping, mixing and preparing. I preheated the oven and fought with a jar I could not open. Oh well. I didn’t really need sauce for this recipe. I arranged the ingredients and lined up spices. I adore the process of cooking. As things were sizzling and I was stirring the heaviness of the work day took another step further from my “right now”. The main course went in the oven. Now, maybe you’re thinking Ang, I’m not a cook. That’s okay. All you need is a small amount of focus and a moment to enjoy some deliciousness. Salad was next.

Step Four: Use your body (music and a dance party)

Preparing salad needed something special. It needed ABBA. Yes. Abba. Loud. Familiar. Groovy Abba. I turned up the speaker—way up and let the play list go. I became the salad chopping dancing queen. Dancing between the fridge and the counter. Singing poorly and loudly to the lyrics when I knew them and making up my own when I didn’t. Soon enough the bowl was full. Let me caution that if you are dancing and chopping with a sharp knife proceed with caution. Just use your body. Be in your body. Move around and literally shake off the day. Go work out, play tennis, run, Asana your way into a good mood.

Step Five: Find a friend

A friend came by to help me eat my disco party supper. We talked and laughed and chatted and consoled. Munching and venting between forks full of food and hearts full of empathy. When life gets too much don’t be a lonely hero. Find a pal. They don’t necessarily need to be in your house, but there is someone out there who would like to share their day and listen to you about yours. Connect with them.

Step Six: Get some fresh air

Not all oxygen is created equally. Our meal was finished, table cleared and the dishes dealt with. We put on our coats and headed outside into the cool evening air. We walked for over an hour, in our bodies, out in the world, listening to the outside sounds and seeing evidence of others. Breathing outside air. It has a different effect. It truly does. I think it pulls us back, way-way back in our biology when outside was our first home. It’s a natural state and our spirit needs it.

The staircase

My steps out of a grumpy state are about six. These six. They are simple. And they are easy to find in big or small doses.

Bedtime came and I had a fresh head. Tired. Happy. There was no noise from the work day. Was there noise? Yes. But, it was the chop and sizzle of supper, the whine of a puppy, Abba, words from a conversation, laughter, the crunch of my boots on the snow, the whir of the night air. It was good, happy noise that lulled me to sleep.

My steps may work for you. You too may have steps out of your mire. I hope you access them regularly and willingly.

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