"It's always darkest before the dawn...And it's hard to dance With a Devil on your back So shake it out..." —Lyrics to Shake it Out by Florence & the Machine
Yesterday, as I was transferred for the seventh time during a 15-minute phone call that can only be described as a customer service black hole, my blood started boiling. RAGE.
I've had a cold this week, so my normal be a friendly decent human being defenses were down. I hadn't gone running or to yoga in days. I had a devil on my back (as the brilliant lyric above goes) and I had lost my happy place.
Origins of the Happy Place
After my sophomore year of college, I did a two-month travel study program in Europe. My roommate and I devised a method for dealing with frustration, long lines, angry people and other mood-zappers: go to the happy place.
Mine happened to be on an island with Vin Diesel, and she taught me how to say it in sign-language.
When something would go wrong, instead of reverting to RAGE or complete bitch-mode, she and I would look at each other and sign our happy places. "I'm on an island with Vin Diesel!" I'd mouth while giggling. It might be a complete fabrication, but it worked.
Shake it out. . .
These days, my happy place is my yoga mat. While it helps to have a place that actually exists, it's certainly not required.
When I feel my patience grow thin or my good-mood resources deplete, I know it's time to get out of the house and get moving. Fresh air, a walk or a run, and definitely a yoga class. My dad has a theory that unused adrenaline (which we start out with every morning) quickly turns toxic in our bodies if we don't put it to use within 24 hours.
When you're in a funk, you don't always realize that it's because you've neglected your happy place...but it's never too late to go back. Or to imagine yourself there in vivid detail.
Just as negotiators suggest "going to the balcony" instead of reacting on the spot, the same applies for going to your happy place. The next time you find yourself sad, mad, frustrated or otherwise on a rapid downhill slide into toxic energy, conjur up a place that makes you smile.
What does it look like? Who is there with you? What are you doing? What imagined scenario (or real activity) is guaranteed to lift your spirits? It might even help to make a list or do a free-write so that you have something to come back to when you're feeling less creative.
I'd love to hear in the comments: what is your happy place? What person or place (or puppy!) makes you smile just thinking about it?
P.S. Two fun features elsewhere on the web today: My "Act as If" story is up on Positively Positive, and the most in-depth interview I've done in a while is posted at Idea Mensch. Head on over and check them out -- both are great websites that I am honored to be on and look forward to exploring more!
P.P.S. Thank you so much for all of your enthusiasm and kind words about the Mint infographic -- it's been a blast seeing it spread around the Internet!