As part of my phase in to This Happiness Project, This week, I'm starting the exercise of blogging for 20 minutes on a positive experience, past or present. The idea is that by activating those neural pathways, I will strengthen my ability to recall happy things, even in times of stress and sadness. I'm going to be trying this for 2 months (along with my usual MTLA posts). What's two months to try out a theory, right? The scary thing is, I'm actually really, really bad at this!
Let me just try to start by listing times that I know I've been happy, rather than pulling up specific occurrences. I've been happy: dancing, painting, figuring things out, coming up with a delicious turn of phrase, learning, spending time with my friends debating or enjoying the outdoors, learning about new people... My life has not been a lot of that until recently. I've had ten years of my life not being that. Let me shake off the cobwebs here!
I had a great night Monday night. I went out with a friend with drinks where we were able to share some deep, meaningful conversation, have some great laughs at our own expense, and marvel at the wonder of the Universe. I always love conversations like that, and I'd like to think I'm spoiled by the number I've been able to have in my life. It's conversations like that, that renew my charge forward. I got a great line too: "I don't know whether to thank you, or smack you, for being so right." What can I say? I recognize my kind...
We completely lost track of time. That's how good the conversation was. It was supposed to be drinks to beat rush hour and it turned into, "I needed to be home in bed a half hour ago!" We noticed it got dark, and then kinda forgot about it, until: Oops! Still, he's got a new book for me to read, and it's one whose principles seem to actually work... and it's an ebook no less... Pretty spectacular. I enjoyed my energy drinks, he had his Guinness, I ordered some steak and fries. We talked about the behavior of people and positive attitude training, and how hard it is! Oy, this is a lot of work. But when you see it pay off so quickly, it's like ...man! Give me more of that!
If I miss a day, I know from past experience that the best thing to do is don't think two things about it, but apply yourself next the next day. New habits are difficult, and this is about progress, not perfection. This is about happiness, not getting things right. This is about enjoying this and not beating myself up, but going, "Yup. Happens to the best of us. Keep going. It will become habit soon enough." Everything has a learning curve, even if the instructions are understood. If we do everything right, all we're doing is going through the motions. It's only in recovery that we learn how this stuff is really done.
I had to start my 20 minutes over because I became a Negative Noodlehead two days running. I was ready for a fight, a struggle. I wasn't ready to relax and remember happiness. But I've started over until I was able to think of something, even if it was just Monday, and get some positive experience down on paper. Yes, I am coming out of a dark time. There were moments of brightness in it, but the daily pain would steal the enjoyment away, much like a screaming child can make an otherwise enjoyable plane flight a living hell. (My sympathies to parents who travel!)
I had happiness before then, but that's trying to remember a time before I got sick, and all I end up doing is seeing the sickness pop up in my memory, so I'm going to try for more recent times when the illness was there, but managed. That's only been a few months, but I've been able to go camping since then and even rode a dirt bike! I can tell about that next time. My 20 minutes are past up!