What do you do when you are pursuing happiness and have a bad day?
I believe happiness is a choice. I believe in looking at the positive things in life. When a bad circumstance overwhelms me I have a series of actions that I take. I usually read a motivational book to change my frame of mind. If I don’t have such a book with me, I make a list of everything I love in life. Speedwriting everything I am thankful for and love, all my dreams and ambitions. I workout. And I try to do something that makes me happy – like have a glass of wine.
Yesterday morning, I woke up and was exhausted. There were some difficult circumstances I was facing. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. Saturday mornings are the time I take to write. Yesterday, I didn’t write. Admittedly, I went back to bed. Realizing how out of character I was, I forced myself to go for a run. The sun was shining, so I went for a run on the running-path that follows the river leading to the ocean. It is a beautiful run, but despite the physical exertion and the beautiful scenery, I wasn’t able to break away from the cloud hanging over me. As I was running, I tried to make a mental list of everything good in life. For the first time since I have adopted this practice, I was like “My God. I can’t think of anything!”
To be fair, and slightly too personal, it ended up being my monthly womanly curse. Funny how hormones can make it seem that the world is ending.
ACCEPT – SOMETIMES YOU’RE JUST GOING TO HAVE A BAD DAY
When I realized the real source of my misery, I had to laugh at the entire drama I had created in my head. But it also made sense why I wasn’t able to shake myself as I am accustomed to doing.
My powerlessness struck me and I realized I just had to accept it. Life will be better in a day or two. For the moment, I was aware I could continue to take positive action, but not to get too disheartened if the results are not as I hope.
On last weeks post, Everything happens for a reason….or does it?, a friend whom I greatly respect made a comment about acceptance that I have been pondering since.
“… my only responsibility is to take care of myself, make the best decisions I can make, and then accept whatever follows. Acceptance means not trying so hard to make something specific happen or not trying so hard to make sense about what does happen.”
I explained above how my run didn’t break my bad mood. But getting out and going for a run was certainly better than hiding away in my bed. I am a rather stubborn person, and I know experientially the power of exercise. So I tried again – and headed to the gym. I worked out and worked out hard. By the end of my workout I felt like a new person.
Science backs me on this one.
“The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” Michael Otto, PhD clinical psychologist says. “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.”
Research has been done that shows exercise can help alleviate long-term depression. One study concluded that exercise is comparable to antidepressants for people suffering depression.
FRIENDS ARE LIKE MAGIC
One of my closest friends had previously invited me to dinner last night. I swear, there is magic in friendship (and wine). Instantaneously, I was back to my happy, care-free, laughing self. We had a fantastic night!
Psychologists have been studying the link between friendship and happiness for years. Dr. Richard Tunney has focused his work on this and concludes from one study “People who were extremely satisfied with their lives had twice the number of friends of people who were extremely dissatisfied. Women tended to have fewer friends than men but formed tighter bonds.”
Aristotle wrote extensively about the link between happiness and friendship,
“Without friends, no one would want to live, even if he had all other goods.”
“A friend is a second self”
“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies”
“Whoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”