It’s not easy being happy. Some people are better at it, some people are not, but happiness relies mostly on ourselves rather than the moments that happen. I mean, sure, we can have everything we absolutely could desire and have that be our biggest reason for contentment, but even still we are prone to having the blues. Or the mean reds. Our outlook on life and ourselves completely changes the way we can view our lives as they happen. We can just as easily fall into a negative outlook as we can to a positive one, functioning as a filter, and like it or not we are in full control of that filter. Most of the times in keeping with one outlook or the other we exhaust ourselves and give into it’s opposite: from constantly happy to suddenly depressed, from always negative to suddenly hopeful, etc.
Now I’ve been going through an emotionally rough patch, in short: a breakup left my once giggly and happy outlook on life replaced with a blue filter. Everything and anything was hard to do, even eating took an extra effort. Things that usually made me happy were useless and I needed extreme distraction to keep me from being sad. Distractions didn’t necessarily keep me happy, but they concentrated my train of thought through less self-destructive stations. But constantly distracted is no way to live on. I mean, distractions help but there are other practices that better the quest to a more colourful and bright filter.
Motivation comes in many ways, shapes and sizes. Even though it’s hard to accept and put into action, we’re the only ones who can pull ourselves out of the gutter. It’s been hard, but I’ve been trudging upward and with a few strategies I’ve been able to build myself motivators that have pushed me towards looking forward to my life again:
1) Find your friends:
When down in the dumps, people will notice. Your general presence gives away enough and if you’re like me (ungraceful in your expression of the blues) people will notice anyways through other mediums. Those who truly care will either inquire about your state or offer to be there for whatever you may need, and that’s what friends are for! So without embarrassment, use this. Repeating over and over what’s wrong is tiresome, and during this repetition, people will both give you comforting bits of wisdom and snap you back to reality. Both are necessary. If you’re lucky like me, you may have that one friend who practically baby-steps you back into sunshine.
2) Find an Anthem.
We normally parallel our feelings through our choice in music. Most of us anyways, I count myself amongst that group, and if you count yourself in as well this is a problem. While it certainly helps to comfort, it doesn’t really do much besides that. You can only take so much comfort until you start drowning yourself instead of just floating.
There are a ton of uplifting and motivational songs out there, though not all fit our tastes, but I’m pretty sure we all have one or a couple of songs amongst our favourites that we play when happy, excited, exuberant and getting ready for an adventure. Fish one or two of those songs back up from the depths and play it every now and then, get used to this happy or hopeful feeling once more, and when you do, never return to the sadness marathon.
3) Doing things you love
This is a tough one, because while blue I didn’t feel like doing things I love at all. But we need to push ourselves to try and do them again. All in due time, of course, and it’s important that this be something your really love, because once you start doing it you will be immersed enough to be both distracted and feel the joy of said activity. Promise.
4) Take a walk
This is another I needed to force myself to do. It takes time: you’ll get out of bed and want to go back in, you’ll shower and want to stay in pajamas, you’ll get dressed and still you’d rather stay indoors, watch series or movies or just stare at the wall and curl up in a ball. But trudge on we must until we take that step out the front door. The mere fact of stepping out of my cave was motivation enough for me, but even then most of what I did afterwards was find another place to lie and stare into the distance. Still, it’s anywhere but bed, and that’s a first step. Eventually you find things to do: a park to visit, a cafe to sit by, a meal to eat at a new place, people to meet up, etc. It’s the whole “step out of your comfort zone” thing, out is where the magic will indeed happen. Eventually.
5) Look up at the sky, or anywhere nice.
Once out, it’s hard to not spend the next fifteen minutes looking at the ground while walking, and I’ve noticed how for myself it’s not really improved my humor. My solution was to make a habit out of looking up at the buildings, the trees, and the clouds to find the beauty in it all. It’s not always there or easy to spot, but when you find it, man it feels good. It’s the whole “the small things in life” idea, and this was something I started doing in high school, but eventually stopped. So I rescued this habit once more to help transition back to my sunnier side.
6) Create a List of Self-Fulfilling Goals
Personally, I find great pleasure in exploring, discovering new places, trying new food or coffee, finding a sweet spot amongst the concrete jungle where to lie, and even just seeing a place recommended by many. So I’ve made a list of places and this list helps me have something besides routine to look forward to every day, which although it may contrast with my usual desire to improvise as the day goes by, it’s a solid thing in mind to have and push me out of wallowing. To each their own, we all have things that we either purposely save for later, just never truly dedicate any space for or are constantly waiting for someone to go with. This is about the best times to do them. I’ve also made it a goal to publish at least one blog post a week, which has helped me do something other than scroll endlessly through Tumblr and relate to sad quotes.
7) Audiobooks and Podcasts
While talking a walk and changing your scenery is all fine and good, once you’ve made it out through any of the two above mentioned points, you’re faced with what to do while getting to places. If you’re like me, your mind is a blur and any moment of silence is a chance for it to dabble away at thoughts that revolve around worrying and in general thinking too much. Music can be one solution, but even then the mind can wander, so the solution that worked for me was listening to audiobooks and podcasts. Not only do I have someone else’s voice in my head, but I have to pay attention to grasp what I’m listening to. This is relaxing, distracting, and I’m getting some form of useful culture in me.
8) Go back to your Friends
Sometimes it’s good to be on your own, get used to yourself with all that it implies, enjoy everything for yourself, be a little selfish and be your own priority, ignore the world for a bit. Eventually when you do feel better enough to interact with society and not fake interest, happiness, or even curtesy, it’s best to go back to your friends first, general society later, specially those that supported you through your blues. These people will be happy to see you back, trust me, and probably willing to pitch in to help you have a good time. Slowly but surely you will start to naturally enjoy these things again, promise.
This is all a very slow and delicate process, any second we can just fall back to being blue, burst into tears, and actually prefer to stay there staring at the wall. I wish it were as automatic as that scene in 500 Days of Summer when Tom suddenly gets up and turns his life around for the best, but it’s not. It takes time (something I dread) and a lifeline you can hang on to and pull yourself back to the boat with on your own terms. This was mine. Which one is yours?