Archive | 11:59 PM

Happiness Project Update 27: I Fell Off the Wagon … But I Found Refuge

21 Jun

The “negativity bias” crept in this week, like a tiny parasite sucking the life out of me.

I let the outside effect my mood. I mean who doesn’t right? It happens to everyone, maybe even Gandhi himself, that’s probably why he meditated so much.

Most of the time you feel good when you wake up because you realize you have another 24 hours to make something happen for yourself. 24 hours to do something. 24 hours to find a way to be happy or happier. 24 hours for something different from yesterday. 24 hours to fly your freak flag and be proud. 24 hours closer to reaching you dream. 24 hours … I mean Jack Bauer saved the world in 24 hours the least you can do is have a good day right?

But then you get out of bed and life happens.

You stubbed your toe. You can’t find matching socks. Your kids fight over the superhero cape.  You realize someone sent in the payment late and you’ve gotten a penalty fee. You wanted orange juice in the morning and just as you reach for the Simply Orange way in the back of the fridge you realize that some jackass left it in there with three drops. You try to shake it off, but then you hear from Debbie Downer and they’re trying to drag you down with the ship. You get criticized for the third time in ten minutes. You check your voicemail and realize that your friends are taking an awesome two-day vacation you desperately need, but you can’t go on because there’s no one to watch your kids. It takes a village to raise one, right? This town is population: 1 Guat.

You need to get out of the house.

So you walk out to the car to get the diapers your dude left in the trunk overnight and $78 parking ticket is hanging out on your windshield for all to see. Street Sweeper. People walking their dogs see it. They give you a sympathetic smile. They feel you. You’re glad, until you walk back home and step in dog poop.

You really need a Namaste moment. You realize the “negativity bias” kicked in.

The bias is defined by Gretchen Rubin as:

“… we react to the bad more strongly and persistently than to the comparable good. I’d learned in February, within a marriage, it takes at least five good acts to repair the damage of one critical or destructive act. With money, the pain of losing a certain sum is greater than the pleasure of gaining that sum. Hitting the best-seller list with Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill thrilled me less than a bad review upset me.”

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

Yeah … like I said negativity bias. Although I don’t really agree with her on the money one, if I found lost money I’d be doing cartwheels, and forget about how pissed off I was when I lost it. Finding lost items is awesome. But I agree with the rest. So what could I do with all the negative stuff brooding in my system?

She suggests finding a mental “area of refuge” and I agree. Thinking about an escape, something to distract you from the drama, something to occupy your mind and get you through the momentary traffic jam that is your life. So I thought of bungy jumping in Austrailia. I thought of the giant water slide my dad and I ventured on in Guatemala. I thought about the Spider-Man theme song my uncle use to sing randomly. I thought about Trader Joe’s Chocolate Lava Cakes. I thought about Jack Tripper (he always made me laugh). I thought about my son in the swimming pool doing his first starfish float and smiling excitedly. I thought about my daughter’s bouncy toddler run when she “hits” a home run and runs around are makeshift bases. I thought about the fresh smell of wet soil as I rode my bike through the park early Sunday mornings. It smelled liked Earth.

I wasn’t Mary Poppins after that, but I wasn’t festering in the crappy mood or the dog crap.

Things got better, until night time.

Thank God for Netflix. I was able to distract myself with episodes of Arrested Development.