“And every day the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘this is important! & this is important! & this is important! you need to worry about this! & this! & this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart, & say, ‘NO. this is what’s important.’”
— Leonie Dawson.
This week, the days may seem hard–the weather may be improving, but work may be difficult, and your private relationships may be strained. Life in its complicatedness can be tough, but life in its lovely simplicity can wrap it arms around you. Sometimes those arms are not as comforting as you would like, and a person has got to stake their own claim on finding relief and a little morsels of happiness.
Gretchen Rubin with her infamous Happiness Project has brought much attention to self-propagated happiness. Rubin a former resident of Kansas City (like myself) realized that we very much choose to see the glass half empty or half full—but Rubin argues that if it does appear to be half empty we can move ourselves to a more full existence. While I appreciate Rubin’s work some of her ideas didn’t seem to fit my life, and though she totes the idea that every plan should be individualized–to me a happiness project is too overwhelming. So I continue to use my happiness file–it’s quicker, easier, and I can access it easily.
THE HAPPINESS FILES
The happiness file can be real or imagined—mine is both. It simply is a procurement of stuff–articles, events, or ideals that make me feel a little better when the world is less than friendly or less than forgiving. I have a happiness file on my computer, in a shoe box, and in my cranium.
The computer file is simply happy quotes, pictures, videos, or articles that let me realize (again) that there are many people in the world who are trying to do good, make a difference, and struggle just like me. A lot of these good feeling bytes come from The Foundation for a Better Life or Proverbs 31. In fact, both groups drop good thoughts in my email box daily, and you can signup to for this bits of inspiration on their sites. Really exceptional quotes, articles, and pictures go in a saved file on my computer. When I’m feeling a bit blue I take a moment to read through those things that have inspired me in the past.
Gummy Lump File
Under my bed is my version of a “gummy lump,” which was first introduced to the world Robert Fulghum of “All I Need to Know in Kindergarten” fame. He kept a box artfully made by his child in a closet. It was filled it with all sorts of special things that made him feel good about his children. I have a “gummy lump” under my bed with pictures, handmade cards, drawing, notes, love letters, bits of this and that–all of these remind me that I am loved and I love others. Mine includes things from my children but also items from friends, family, and my husband. A cup of tea and a moment with my “gummy lump” can make a “Jonah day” so much better. Get yourself a “gummy lump” and let feeling good begin.
Finally, I have a file in my head (and so do you). When your child smiles and it touches your heart–ingrain that image in your head. HOLD ONTO IT. The sunset that takes your breath away–HOLD ONTO IT. The delicious strawberry you eat out of the garden on a warm June day–REMEMBER IT. Then on dreary, hard, unfulfilling days go back and hold onto those moments again. I won’t quote existential philosophers, poets, or spiritual leader but instead tell you this works because it worked for Leo Lionni’s beloved character, Frederick the mouse and it works for me. Frederick captured the warmth of the sun, the colors of the season, and stories. He used them to uplift his fellow mouse and himself when the world felt bleak. Holding onto those happy moments can bring you back when you most need it.
“‘And how about the colors, Frederick?’ … And when he told them of the blue periwinkles, the red poppies in the yellow wheat, and the green in the leaves of the berry bush, they saw the colors as clearly as if it has been painted in their minds.” — Frederick by Leo Lionni
So find that quote that inspires you (save it), the letter your mother wrote you last week (keep it), the smell of your newborn baby (remember it)–we all need gummy lumpies(in whatever form they come)…just about everyday…
* I will be away from technology next week–so enjoy these first moments of spring (fingers-crossed) and we’ll catch up soon.