Okay…on today’s agenda…“Give yourself a break.”
Occasionally I have these moments where I wonder what else could go wrong. It just seems like no matter what I try to do, it just goes pffllltttt. Then I crawl into my always-handy dark cave and roll around in my misery.
Maybe I’m growing up finally, but I seem to be spending less and less time in my cave. And that’s a good thing…various people have suggested that it’s not terribly healthy for me to be spending so much time in there.
I think I’m getting better at avoiding those moments, and I’m doing my darnedest to improve even more.
Quite by coincidence, my good friend and former student Dahlia Lee DeHaan just this week published her own thoughts on dealing with depression. I was somewhat relieved to see that some of what I’m doing is actually right on track!
What am I doing differently? Notice I didn’t say “regularly”…just “differently.”
Simple-ish…I try as often as I can to recognize and savor the memory of the good things that have happened recently. It’s not always easy…crouching in a dark corner of my cave is sooo easy and familiar. But I tempt myself out into the light by thinking about…and mentally reliving…recent moments that have made me happy.
Most of the time they’re not major life-altering moments. They often are as uncomplicated as today, for example, where Margaret (my wife) and I took the subway and a train to Marblehead, MA, to spend the better part of the day welcoming a new (five months old) member of my cousin’s family and then celebrating my cousin’s Mother-in-Law’s 100th birthday. (That’s ONE ZERO ZERO, just to be clear!)
The subway ran smoothly, as did the train. The weather was spectacular. And the company was fabulous…an amazing array of personalities, professions and peculiarities that seem to be the hallmark of my family in general.
Yeah, I had a brief episode of introvert-itis and panicked when I found myself in a room packed with happily talking people, many of whom I didn’t know. Finally had to make a beeline for the backyard where I could be alone for a few minutes…then dove back into the mayhem, stood in a corner by myself, and watched the chaos.
But I was happy. I watched Margaret do what she does best…interact with strangers, laugh, play with babies, just have fun. Seeing her happy makes me happy. And that feeling has carried on into this evening. I’m sitting here right now, remembering all the little details of the day and smiling.
And that’s a message I try…not sure how successfully…to convey to my Curry College COM/PR students and Curry College PR Student Association members… “Allow yourself to be happy. Don’t get your thoughts all wrapped around bad stuff that might have happened. Focus on the good things.”
Easy to say, I’ll be the first to admit. Often damned difficult to do. But the peace of mind…the ability to sleep through the night uninterrupted…is sooo worth it!
So here’s the deal. Start paying attention to things that happen to you and around you. Give some thought to how each thing makes you feel. Then start this exercise…pause, reflect, and say to yourself… “Happiness is…(fill in the blanks).”