Is there a song that you remember from your childhood that brought you joy? Was it something soothing you heard at night to help you fall asleep? Or something you heard on the radio that made your body need to dance? Perhaps a song from a movie that still makes you smile? Since this month’s blog series is about the joy habit of pleasure, today’s topic is about how what we hear can influence how we feel. Sound in the form of music is one of our most primal senses for conjuring memories from significant chapters in our lives. I often hear people say, “Oh I remember that song and exactly who I was with and what I was doing as if it were yesterday.” Or...
What sights bring you pleasure? Is it a simple pleasure like noticing the first daffodil opening to announce the spring? The pastel colours of a tropical sunset? Or the smile on a baby’s face? Perhaps it’s the beauty you see on the walls of an art gallery. Or the various shades of green in the forest. How about the images of future desires that you see when you close your eyes? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, what do you behold? One of the fastest ways to remember your joy is to enliven your five senses so that you can choose those things that bring you the most pleasure. And once you are clear about those things, you can begin to notice and actually attract more of them into your reality.
What’s your favourite smell? What is it that you like about it? Does it conjure up a memory for you? If so, that’s your olfactory system at work. Did you know that smell (your olfactory system) is the only one of your senses that can have a direct effect on the limbic region of your brain – that part that controls your behavioural and emotional response to something? No wonder you either gravitate towards or are repelled by certain aromas – sometimes not even consciously knowing the reason why. This month’s blog series is all about the joy habit of pleasure from Chapter 38 of my book Being Joy™ where I explain the importance of taking a break each day from your responsibilities and enliven one of your five senses. And this week is all about your sense of smell and its impact on your behaviour.
Have you been feeling hopeless and helpless lately, feeling exhausted by the drip drip drip of the pandemic? I’ve found that one of the best ways to shift my energy away from negative thoughts and worry is by leaning back, taking a breath, and smiling. It lightens my heart so that I can let more of the joy in. Not complicated, but sometimes we just need to remind ourselves to breathe. All month I’ve been posting about why being lighthearted is such an important mental health first aid technique and how it can help you to be more adaptable, resilient, and optimistic when faced with either a mini or major crisis. And that by being lighthearted, you are also helping to heal the world by sharing your light and joy energy with others who are struggling in the darkness.
Oh to be as carefree as a puppy or small child. No worries. Exploring everything. How blessed is the light-heartedness of the wee ones. They truly live in the moment. So why do we let that die in us when we “grow up”? Why have we become so serious that we have a hard time justifying time off just to play and have fun? Where did our “light heart” go? With the Family Day holiday just a few days away for most Provinces in Canada, instead of trying to cram errands into a free day off from work, I challenge you to make it a special occasion for you and your family. A day of fun, without a regimented itinerary. A day where the adults can be child-like and care-free. A day of being lighthearted.
Have you laughed yet today? If not, time to get your laugh on. Here’s why. The adage, laughter is the best medicine has never been put to the test more than it has now. And I’ve found that the people who have weathered the pandemic storm the best over the past two years, have been more lighthearted and optimistic than those who have been trying to swim against the current. That’s just exhausting. Adopting a lighthearted disposition to life doesn’t mean that you don’t care about things. It just means that once you train that adaptative and resiliency muscle, you’re better able to react in a calm and hopeful manner, bringing light and levity to the situation. To mean, laughter is one of the best mental health first aid solutions during uncertain times.
When was the last time you made a mistake, dropped something, or forgot where you put your keys and instead of admonishing yourself, you laughed? I try to do it as much as possible, and lately I’ve had lots of practice! I learned many years ago that instead of treating every mini accident as a crisis worthy of anger, that if instead I saw it as an opportunity to lighten up and laugh it off, that my mood improved, and I was able to bounce back from the incident much quicker. I know, it can be tempting to get fixated on the issue and put on the victim hat when things don’t go your way, but all that does is make things worse. The reality is that life is messy. It brings us plenty of obstacles and over the past two years, an abundance of twists and turns, making it nearly impossible to predict what’s going to happen next. For many, the anxiety is too much, and they turn to substances or other unhealthy coping measures. But if we could all just learn to let go and lighten up a bit, our worries would also feel lighter. Just like Richard Carlson suggests in his best-selling book – “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all Small Stuff. “
In this last post for the first month of the new year, I wanted to end on a positive note. We’ve all had enough sadness and anxiety over the past two years. So, this week’s post is dedicated to all the power of connection. For as our opening quote reminds us, together we are greater than the sum of our parts. Take for example the way ordinary people have come together to help their neighbours during times of disaster. I think back to the unprecedented flooding in BC late last year and the images of people helping guide water-soaked animals to higher ground.
There’s nothing like a pandemic to remind us of how interdependent we are on a global scale. Yes, we are all still in this together! But as I began to write this week’s blog about the joy habit of connection, I remembered a post I had written early on in the pandemic that is relevant to this month’s theme. The following are some excerpts. You’ve likely heard of the butterfly theory that suggests how the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can impact the weather thousands of miles away. In an April 14, 2020, Fast Company article by Parag Khanna and Karan Khemka, they reinforce this concept even further, with sobering predictions for the future by saying, “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect describes a small change that can have massive, unpredictable consequences. An insect flaps its wings and, weeks later, causes a tornado. The coronavirus is more like an earthquake, with aftershocks that will permanently reshape the world.” If there ever was a time to take our heads out of the sand and realize that we are indeed connected, now is the time! We all have a responsibility to our sacred planet.
We, by our very nature, are social animals. So, for most of us these last two years have felt unnatural to say the least. We miss spending time with our friends in the same way we used to. The travel planning needed to visit far-away family has made it challenging given the unpredictability of the pandemic. And we’re all exhausted trying to predict the future. If it’s of any comfort, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. The entire planet is feeling the drain. And in that way, we are probably more connected than we realize. We have a common goal – survive the pandemic. So even though we aren’t able to see all those we want to see in person, it’s still vital that we stay connected, if not for our own mental wellbeing, but for that of the other person as well.