“Just look at that view…look at it closely, really take it all in…now close your eyes and take a breath…can you still see the water, feel the breeze and visualize how beautiful and peaceful this is?”
A little over eleven years ago, while my husband and I were on our honeymoon, this was our view. We had left the cares of the world behind, and were enjoying a time of rest and relaxation. I knew that in just a few short days I would be catapulted back into my work environment - a school of over 1500 students at the end of the school year where I would be facing a chaotic schedule operating at warp speed. It was at that moment that I decided to begin a new tradition, that of finding and remembering my happy place.
As we sat on the beach, I encouraged my husband to look at what was right in front of us. Then we closed our eyes and used all of our senses to fill our minds with what our eyes had just viewed. I decided at that moment, that when things got stressful and I was overwhelmed, I would just close my eyes, take a breath and see that vision of my happy place. I can tell you that the memory of that scene is strong; I can still close my eyes and see that view all these years later.
Now, I am on alert for those moments in life that will become one of my “happy place” memories. Not all of those happy scenes are places, but because I love to travel, many of mine are. Other times, your happy places will involve the relationships that you share with others – your family and/or your friends. Sometimes your happy places are easy to find and other times you may have to create your own happy place memories. The year that I turned forty I had to create my own happy place memory. I was the unfortunate product of divorce, but instead of feeling sorry for myself, having no spouse to help me celebrate this particular birthday and establishing an unhappy memory, I decided take the initiative to book a cabin in the mountains and invite friends along with our kids to enjoy a weekend together. Instead of having a “woe is me” birthday, I had a great time creating happy place memories with friends.
Often we wait for happiness to come to us instead of seeing the happiness that is all around us. Sometimes we just need to convince ourselves that we are in a happy place. On the especially stressful days at work, I would walk through the office audibly saying, “I have a great job!” I would then follow that statement with one of the reasons that I did have a great job such as, “Who else gets to take three hundred kids to Disneyworld each year or lead an Olympic celebration?” These comments were said with a smile in front of my co-workers and it would actually pull those happy place work memories to the front of my brain, replacing the stressful memories of the moment, reinforcing and reminding me that I really did love my job.
Truthfully, I believe that our happiness comes from whatever roots us in our world. If we examine our life, there are those things that make us smile and that we enjoy immensely... the experiences, opportunities and people that we love, yet sometimes take for granted. When you identify your roots of happiness, they become the things to hold on to in times of stress, anxiety or disappointment. My roots of happiness and strength are Faith, Family, Friends and Fun (I also love alliteration)! Take some time to identify your happiness roots and begin to notice and visualize your “happy places” so they can be stored in your brain. When those stressful, anxious moments come, just smile and pull a happy place memory out. It will change your outlook and your day!