I have been struggling a bit lately with my attitude. There have been many days when I have felt too short tempered. Too many days when I feel too impatient with those that are dearest to me. Too many days when I just don’t want to do anything. I so easily get caught in the mindset of “once we’ve achieved this goal, or once we’re done dealing with this obstacle or burden in our lives, I’ll be happy. Then life will be good. Then I can rest.”
But the truth is, we will all experience multiple obstacles throughout our lives. Obstacles in life are like laundry and dishes. It’s not something on a to-do list we can check off once and be done with. We can pretty much expect that once we’ve over come one obstacle, we should be ready for the next. I feel like what it really comes down to is that I have been in need of an attitude adjustment and change of perspective.
Happiness is an inside job.
Creating our own happiness is definitely one of those things that falls in to the category of “Thing that are Easier Said Than Done.” There are so many cute catch phrases about happiness, but I have yet to find one that comes with an instruction manual on how to make that happen. I did learn (or re-learn) the hard way just this week though, that much of our happiness is dependent upon our perspective. And our perspective can be manipulated by ourselves, by creating healthy habits and thought patterns.
One such healthy habit we can employ to consciously shape our perspective is keeping a list of things that make us happy – a list of our petite joys. I’ve heard the suggestion that when you find yourself in a mood, pull out your journal and read over your list of petite joys. But if I’m gonna be real about this, I am never, I repeat, NEVER, going to pull out my journal when I’m in a nasty mood. Never.
What I find more effective for myself when it comes to breaking and creating habits (and our though patterns absolutely are habits), is to create triggers and redirections in my mind. It’s just like when a smoker is trying to quit, they get a craving, and they chew gum or work out instead of having a smoke. The trigger is their craving. The redirection is chewing gum or working out. I also gave an example of how I do this in my post Why I Make New Year’s Resolutions. I detailed how each time I found myself mindlessly cruising Facebook (trigger), I’d pick up my book instead (redirection).
So how do I make this work with changing my thought patterns? Each time I find myself dwelling on inconveniences and annoyances in my day, I try to pick one thing off my list of things that make me happy, and I dwell on that instead. I may not feel immediately happy, but with time and practice, it eventually reshapes my thoughts and my attitude.
A Few of My Favorite Things
A great example of this concept is the song My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music. There is such a pearl of wisdom to this song. Perhaps it isn’t always fears we are trying to fend off with thoughts of things that bring us joy, but depression, or complacency. Having a tangible reminder to fall back on when our thoughts turn dark can help us to reframe our perspective and retrain our brain and thought patterns. In short, it is an excellent way to control our moods and attitudes. So, here is my list of petite joys.
My Petite Joys
- Screen doors
- The sound of rain
- The smell of rain
- Dishes by hand with grandma
- Kneading dough
- Overcast skies
- The smell of campfire
- Thunderstorms and lightening
- The still and dark hours of the morning, before everyone else has arisen
- Persimmon trees and how their bright fruit stands against a grey sky in the dead of winter
- The feel of another language on my tongue
- The weight of piano keys beneath my finger tips
- The word infinitesimal. It’s such a long word, but means something very, very small. The irony tickles my funny bone.
- Oak trees
- The fresh, crisp air of fall
- The sound of the ocean
- A perfect line of poetry
- Picking the perfect blackberry, fresh, plump, and ripe off the vine, and eating it
- Marking things off the To-do list
- Warm clothes fresh out of the dryer
- Popping bubble wrap
- Clear and starry night skies, far from the city lights
- The sound of crickets
- How my hands smell after picking tomatoes fresh off the vine
- The joy and excitement of witnessing the seeds you’ve sown sprout
- Dark chocolate
- When someone plays with your hair
- Listening to my favorite songs in the car. Way too loud. And belting it out like I know how to sing.
- The smell of your child when you kiss the top of their head
- Waking up at 2 am feeling like you’ve already slept 8 hours, realizing you’ve got hours left to sleep, and passing back out. Best. Feeling. Ever.
- A good book
- Down comforters
- Sea otters
- Homemade chocolate pudding, hot off the stove top
- Creating something
- New sheets and freshly shaved legs
- A good stretch
- The smell of a wood burning stove on a cold winter’s day
- Potato bugs and fuzzy caterpillars
- A brisk walk
- Working with your hands
- Going home to Mom and Dad’s
- A perfectly flaky, homemade pie crust
- Wrapping Christmas gifts
- Fat babies
- A tall stack of pancakes
- Scrabble letters
Wow, I feel chillaxed just writing this.
For more ideas on how I create my own happiness, check out my post A Sincere Evaluation of how I Spend my Time. Check out my post Why I Make New Year’s Resolutions for more ideas on how I try to break and create habits.
Questions of the Day:
1. What are your top 3 petite joys?
2. Do you have your own list of petite joys?