Stressed Out? Go to your Happy Place!

We all have good days and bad days.  There are days when you wake up full of optimism, ready to take on the world, and other days when (for whatever reason) you wish you could just hide under the covers and never crawl out of bed.  Perhaps these issues are entirely psychological.  Perhaps they’re chemical.  Or perhaps they’re due to the weather patterns in Seattle changing every single time you turn around.  And when you’re job hunting or going through any other stressful time in life, you’ll likely find these normal emotional oscillations amplified even further — making it even tougher to stay upbeat and convince employers/recruiters that you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and tackle their challenges, smiling all the while!

So while I’m sure there are thousands of therapists out there FAR more trained to help people with these types of issues than me, some who even have the ability to prescribe a little “something something” to help, if you know what I mean, I’m going to suggest a more basic remedy.  Self-management.  Have you ever stopped to take inventory of the simple little things that predictably bring you joy?  The little things in life that make you happy?  The inexpensive or free “treats” you’ve learned you can give yourself to break out of a funk, perk back up, and restore yourself to a positive frame of mind?

Honestly, I don’t know if this is going to be a breakthrough piece of advice for you all — or if I’m totally late to the party and you’re already doing all of these things — but I thought I’d at least craft a quick post around it, since I’ve been thinking about how I’ve gotten much more cognizant in recent years in terms of “what I know about myself” and what it takes to reboot myself out of a bad mood.  And just to clarify, I’m not talking about the big expensive things we all tend to enjoy (e.g. exotic vacations) or “slow-burn” joys like spending time with loved ones, being a good parent, etc.  I’m focusing instead on the small but reliable pick-me-ups you can work into any given day, if needed, to give yourself a quick emotional lift.

So I spent a few minutes brainstorming my own such list, for what it’s worth.  Here’s what I came up with:

Matt’s List of Small Joys & Simple Pleasures

1. Vietnamese sandwiches
2. Listening to Celtic or bluegrass music (it’s irrepressibly upbeat!)
3. Hanging out at Rattlesnake Lake (near North Bend)
4. Killing time in bookstores
5. Hitting a good golf shot (probably due to rarity)
6. Setting photo slideshows to music
7. Zeroing out my inbox & getting totally caught up on e-mail
8.  The Carl Sagan music video you’ll find here
9. Taking a great photograph, especially of my son
10. Top Pot Doughnuts maple bars w/ crumbled bacon (heaven!)
11. Cleaning out my garage, car, office, or closet
12. Hiking solo up on Snoqualmie Pass
13. Having no plans, especially with a weekend coming up
14. Shopping at Trader Joes (so many good deals!)
15. An ice-cold glass of Mac & Jaks beer
16. Great bread pudding (reigning champ: Boat Street Cafe)
17. Ultimate fighting pay-per-view events (sorry, guilty pleasure!)
18. Getting a massage
19. New episodes of The Office, 24, Chopped, or Deadliest Warrior
20. Getting a thought out of my head and into a decent blog article
21. Productivity; making lists and crossing things off
22. Malcolm Gladwell books (haven’t read a bad one yet!)
23. Walking my dogs at Marymoor Park
24. Throwing stuff out I don’t need anymore
25. Day trips to Port Townsend or La Conner (love those towns!)

Is this TMI, as the kids say these days?  Perhaps.  And it certainly reveals a few themes about the particular kinds of things that float my boat, if you didn’t already know them, such as my enjoyment of unhealthy food, my need for alone time, my love of nature, and the surge of endorphins I receive when I feel like I’ve gotten something accomplished and have caught up on whatever errands/obligations have been weighing on me.  So there you have it.  If any of you share similar passions or positive triggers, I’d love to hear them, and you’re also all more than welcome to submit a comment outlining a few of your own “simple pleasures” if you’d be willing to share them!

At the end of the day, though, my point is that it helps me to know these things about myself.  It helps me plan my day and know what simple, low-cost steps to take when, for whatever mysterious reason, I’m just not in the most positive of moods.  Emotional emergency?  That’s easy.  Break glass, find bread pudding…


5 Responses to “Stressed Out? Go to your Happy Place!”

  1. Watching the sunrise or sunset at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. It has a great view. Hiking up and down the steps does wonders for one’s attitude as well!

  2. 1. Grande Soy Chai Latte.
    2. Run through Discovery Park…along the South Bluff to the water…to have my quiet time.
    3. Dunham 3-legged Red.
    4. Columbia Crest Caberenet.
    5. Laughing with friends.
    6. Watching my kid laugh…
    7. Lakers vs Suns…hoping for a miracle!
    8. Cleaning out my car…so that there’s no dirt inside.
    9. Reading emails and finding a blog like this.
    10. Knowing I bring a smile to someone’s face…

    My list Matt! For what it’s worth!

  3. God, # 10 would bring you closer to God…

    Really, Dude, a maple bar with BACON?!?!?

  4. The garage thing sounds weird, I know, but I just get a feeling of “inner peace” whenever I get something cleaned out, cleaned up, and organized. So give me a sunny Saturday and a few hours to sweep out and get the garage in order, and I’m a happy guy! Cleaning YOUR garage, though, wouldn’t give me the same feeling, just in case you were tempted to ask… 🙂

  5. Matt, I was hanging with you on your list until I got to cleaning the garage!

    BTW, for all those Gmail users who find their inbox overwhelming but don’t want to take the time to delete stuff (that’s me!), simply ARCHIVE your mail once per week. It’s so nice to start out with a clean slate in your inbox.

    On that cheery note, I should contemplate cleaning my garage this weekend!

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