Why Finding Joy is Worth the Search
by Wendy Keller, author, speaker, woman who cares
Are you spending your life sad? Here’s a big surprise: life sucks sometimes. It’s hard. You get thrown things that are difficult, unfair or even devastating. People die or disappoint. You know, because if you read my blogs, you’re dealin’ with sumthin’.
It’s easiest to just say “Forgeddaboutit” (especially if you’re from Brooklyn!) and slip into the warm current washing you further and further downstream into depression and sadness. NEWS FLASH: We ALL feel like that sometimes. It’s a lot of work to apply good principles, discipline your mind, manage your emotions and relationships, take care of yourself mentally, spiritually, physically, financially and so on. Especially when your life slaps you in the face and you figure out Life Isn’t Fair (to anyone!)
There’s that old quote about how it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up. What about when it’s just been one too many punches? What about when you used your last teaspoon of energy getting back up last time? Then what the heck are you supposed to do?
Get back up.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Psych yourself into it. Tell yourself tomorrow is a new day and then take action – even a tiny little mouse-sized step forward. If you’ve been down in the dumps so long you don’t recall which way is up, here are a whole bunch of crazy, tiny mouse steps to get you heading back in the direction of joy, happiness and peace. Doesn’t matter if you LIKE any of them. Just pick one and do it right now, today, in this instant. Pretty soon, you’ll crack open a window in your brain and a little breeze will blow in some new ideas, some hope. Keep on taking mouse-sized steps and one day, you’ll find you’ve become an Olympic pole vaulter…or at least a happier, more joyful, more peaceful person.
Pick one of these little things to do today to begin yanking yourself back up to the surface:
- Commit to smiling at 5 strangers today.
- Go outside. Pick a flower, bring it in and stick it in some water. Put it on your bedside table.
- Give $1 to a homeless person.
- Take an extra five minutes to do your hair or makeup or put on an outfit you like on yourself.
- Make your bed. (Studies show increased happiness in people who do this simple task daily!)
- Choose to smoke one less cigarette or joint, eat one less cookie than you’d like or take one less drink than you might normally.
- Park in the furthest space from the door and walk.
- Get out in nature for just 10 minutes.
- Take 7 deep breaths in a row.
- Call someone who is hurting and ask questions. Don’t talk about yourself or your problems during the whole call.
- Get a piece of paper and a pencil (or finger paint or crayons) and play around drawing the object you like most in your home. (Da Vinci isn’t watching!)
- Play a half hour of your favorite songs – and dance to them alone.
- Read 10 pages or more of a spiritually uplifting book. (If you don’t know where to start, try “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho)
- Write a card – or make one – and send it to someone you care about, ideally someone you haven’t communicated with in a while.
- If your parents are still alive, tell one of them you appreciate that they did the best they could and you know how hard it was.
- If you have a child, hug it for no reason today. You don’t need permission nor need you give an explanation.
- Make yourself something healthy for dinner.
- Splurge on a pedicure or manicure.
- Send yourself on a treasure hunt: walk around the block and see if you can find three bird feathers, a yellow flower, a coin and a stone.
- Turn down the lights, light a candle and breathe deeply, letting your mind quiet down.
- Buy a flowering houseplant.
- If you have a pet, play with it for five minutes. What’ll it be? Fetch or chasing a string?
- Help an old person in some small way.
- Invite someone over for dinner tomorrow. Doesn’t have to be a fancy meal, or fine china.
- Pray, meditate or introspect – without begging any deity for a single thing, just expressing gratitude.
- Take one dollar out of your wallet. Put it in an envelope and mark the envelope “Savings Account”. Paste a picture or two of your dream goal on the outside of the envelope to motivate yourself.
- Journal about your happiest day so far
These aren’t major life changing strategies, are they? They may seem silly or not even worthy of your time. In truth, like most things in life, they are deceptively simple. Each one moves you that tiny step closer to joy, one step out of despair.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that if you do nothing, you’ll keep getting more of what you’ve already got. The purpose of this list is to give you simple, easy, inexpensive ideas to get you thinking about what you CAN do to get yourself feeling better.
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11 thoughts on “Rising from the Depths of Despair”
Joy Ann LeVelle says:
These tips actually work…I have tried a few myself.
I do trap-neuter-release of feral cats and adoptions of friendlies. I find that I must euthanize a sick kitty and it kills me! I am overwhelmed many times over the responsibilities of kittens born because no one took the initiative to have the adults spayed. My 96-yr. old father died on Veteran’s Day and I am a caregiver.
I have been in a trance for the past few days, but, today is better.
One of my “feel-good” tips is to carry a bag of dog food in my car. I give it to the first homeless person I find with a doggy.
Just writing this is cathargic….I feel better already.
LUV your tips.
OMG, Joy Ann! That dog food idea is the BEST idea I think I’ve ever heard for really helping a homeless person! There are hundreds of homeless in LA, lots with dogs. This is genius! I’m going to do that right way! Thanks for the tip!
Great stuff! I have read this myself, and shared it with some of my friends on my page. I have gotten past the majority of my issues, but I really wish I had this info while I was going through it. Thank you as always!!
Thanks Jason, for commenting and for sharing.
Andrea Sargent says:
Maybe it’s the fact that i heard “life isn’t fair..” so many times growing up that makes me so resilient. No matter what i’ve experienced in my life i’ve always been able to find something which has inspired me to get back up. Usually it’s looking outside of my own situation to see that there is someone who is suffering more then me. Unfortunately in this world that’s not hard to do. That’s not to say we aren’t entitled to our moments of sadness and grief..but life does goes on with or without us.
As always your words are thought provoking… Thank you for sharing them.
Thanks for your comment. I foolishly watched the video clips of the poor little 49 Syrian kids this week and I can’t get it out of my mind. When my children died in the car accident, that was obviously a terrible tragedy. But to have your child killed by soldiers from your own government?!?! I can’t imagine what those parents are feeling right now. What an outrage! What heartbreak!
You’re right, of course. Someone always has it “worse”, although pain can never be quantified.
Thanks 😀 I enjoy your article/posts.
Thank you so much for posting this. I cried while reading it because it was exactly what I needed to hear today. I lost my job a year and a half ago and have been looking for work ever since. Lately, I have also been dealing with significant health issues as well and with no health insurance, the bills are piling up. I totally believe that being happy is a choice that must be made every day, no matter what your circumstances may be. However, sometimes things do get quite overwhelming and I wonder if I will ever be okay again. The past few days have been one of those times. I’m going to keep fighting though. Tomorrow is a brand new day after all.
Oh, Kristen! Big hug! I hope things get better for you.
thanx for ur precious advice but i have fear of getting failed so i am never able to perform well and so i am getting indulge in wrong activities so plz help me out in this concern
Well, Sam, I’m sure not a therapist, but I think a LOT of people fear failure. The resolution of this fear seems to me to be to “Act as if”. Act as if you are not afraid. Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do now?” “What would I attempt if I knew I could not fail?” and “What would the successful person I really want to be DO in this particular situation?” See if that helps and report back here, ok? Try it for a week and let me know how it turns out for you.