Why is it that when we have a bad moment, we find ourselves digging up all the bad moments from our past and talk about this continuous spiral of doom? But when we have a happy moment, we let it stand alone in the middle of a spotlight and don’t associate past happy moments with it. Is it because we are more inclined to the negative than the positive? Or is it because of the adage, “Misery likes company”?
I read of an idea by a blogger called Gretchen Rubin about keeping a collection of happy memories at hand. You can be creative about how exactly to do that, but the main goal is that it should remind you of happy moments, so it could act as a trigger for your happiness whenever you’re feeling down. And it should be accessible. Traditionally, people have used photo albums a lot to capture happy Kodak moments but the problem is that sometimes families keep them in places where it’s a hassle to retrieve them (because they’re precious and all), so it’s the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling down.
Step number 1 would be to organize your memories. Whether they’re in the form of photographs or restaurant bills or receipts, you can work on a scrapbook or a filebox to keep your happy memories in one place. The problem nowadays is that people have various means of taking digital photographs so their images end up being spread “all over” (on one’s iphone, or tablet, or a parent’s samsung, or they got it through whatsapp….). So it would help to sit down for a few hours every month to organize images in a virtual or physical (accessible) photo album. I personally like making picture collages with happy memories and keeping them within my journal. That way, the collage gives me a visual summary of happy moments. And since my journals are filled with words, the pages that have the collages attached tend to catch my eye immediately when I flip through the journal. And since I always have my journal with me, it happens to be easily accessible.
Others have spread the idea of a “Happiness Jar” on social media sites where they write about happy moments on a small piece of paper and put them in their Happy Jar. These could be surprise gifts they’ve received or things they’ve accomplished or simply “LOL” moments. However you decide to organize your memories, be creative and be you!
Step number 2 would be to use your organized memories for days when you’re feeling down. So let’s say you’re faced with a disappointment and your thoughts immediately start dragging you down the spiral of doom, you can open your filebox or scrapbook or Happy Jar and brighten up your mood. Your happy memories don’t always have to be in the form of pictures. I know people who collect fridge magnets from all the countries they’ve visited. That can act as a visual reminder that in life, there are good days as well as bad days, even if the bad days tend to bunch up together in your mind.
You can say that what happens around you doesn’t affect you a bit, but we’re all affected somehow by every experience, every person we interact with, every word we hear and see, every soundbite we watch on TV. We are all affected somehow. Whether the effect is positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. How many people have we run into who changed the course of our lives? Some people beautify the landscapes of our lives, while others ruin it. Then there are those who don’t influence it much. Until they’re gone and we realize how subtle their contributions actually were.
If there’s something I learned in my life is never to get attached. To people, to places, to lifestyles. Don’t get attached, because life can change in a second. And don’t be too picky about making plans because plans are perfect until the time comes for you to execute them.
Sometimes Kid President’s words make sense especially when he says that sometimes you need to give yourself a high-five just for getting out of bed. Go through the motions and focus on making it through the day, from sunrise to sunset, and be grateful to God when you do.
It’s very easy for us to live in our own bubbles, heads hung over our smartphone screens, shutting out the world around us. It’s very easy to imagine that our personal problems are the biggest problems on Earth. Whether to it’s trying to figure out where today’s dinner is going to come from, or whether you have wi-fi coverage where you are; whether it’s a third world problem or a first world problem…it’s very easy to think we’ve got it worse than others.
But everybody’s got problems, everybody’s worried about something, everybody’s got secrets. So don’t go wishing you’re living someone else’s life just because they appear to have no problems. Appearances can be deceiving. It’s like the Swahili saying that crudely translates to “Walls have hidden many secrets”.
You know they say that, “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” We realize that maybe our problems are manageable. Maybe our problems are unique to us because we’ve got the tool to handle them. Maybe we’re the only ones who can make turn a difficulty into a triumph.
And finally, take a lesson from the page of that poor, barefoot, five-year-old African boy in the dirty tattered clothes who, even though he doesn’t have much, he’s still got a reason to wear a sonrisa on his face…maybe because as long as the sun rises, he still got a reason to smile.
P.S. Image used for illustrative purposes only
Empty space can be so symbolic. While a lot of people might think of the empty space as a symbol of failure, a gap that needs to be filled, it doesn’t have to be that way. Take the writer staring at an empty page, or the artist with every part of his studio filled except for one tiny portion. Our first instinct is to fill that page and paint that portrait to hang on the wall. Our first instinct is to fill that space.
But why can’t we let it be?
Just appreciate the emptiness. Let it symbolically represent all the boundless opportunities that could have been and that could be. Because the moment that space is filled, it’s easy to feel a sense of achievement. It’s easy to get too comfortable and glue yourself to that new comfort zone. Let that empty space be motivational. Let it lure you into taking that one more step to whatever it is you seek. In other words, just let it be.