Turning Blue into Indigo and Finding Happiness in Simple Pleasures

Small Self-Care Idea

I have a message to impart. Happiness is the ultimate quest in life, whether you have suffered for a time or in your prime. I am seeking ways of sharing my personal experiences in the hopes of instigating good feeling. If I send it out to my readers, I hope to get some back. We all have ups and downs and knowing how we cope can help others. You may hate your job, are in a failing relationship, have poor health. There is hope at the end of the tunnel. It takes the form of a symbolic rainbow that beckons us to behold its glory. I have developed a more positive attitude toward life as you can see having overcome many obstacles.

My purpose in this blog is to show you how I found liberation by walking away from the negative. It takes self-confidence and motivation. Believe me, the relief is worth the pain. It was particularly tough for me to walk out of a miserable job that was crushing my soul. I imagine many of you have experienced this kind of feeling. No matter what income you are earning, it is far better to take a pay cut and find peace and freedom.

I learned very fast that happiness dwells in the small day-to-day things that bring humor and enjoyment to your life. Above all, it meets other people who are supportive of your journey. No matter how trivial the issue, I love to get advice. An example was the day I was feeling down and a girlfriend offered to take me to a salon for a pedicure. I go barefoot all the time and it isn’t a pretty picture. She promised me that I would get a big boost from the experience. In fact, I would like it so much that I would make it a regular habit.

She was right. It isn’t that expensive and well worth the small cost for the level of pleasure it gives. There is nothing like soaking your feet in lemon water and having them scrubbed with an abrasive soap. They even used one of these foot callus removers to truly clean up my feet. A lot of wear and tear is remedied in a few minutes. Then there is the fun of selecting your perfect color. Clear means you are not very daring. Red means you like to have a good time. Pink is for the sassy and yellow for the young at heart. Blue might reflect your low spirits so avoid it like the plague. Green is for personal growth and white for purity of soul.

Now I am convinced that a little bit of self-care now and then can make a difference in your mood and outlook. It doesn’t have to cost a lot for the degree of return. Plus, it doesn’t take much time out of your busy day. You don’t even have to go to a salon. Giving yourself a pedicure and painting your toes a pretty color can go a long way toward feeling good!

Take a Vacation

What do you consider a great vacation? A theme park filled with thrill rides and fun? A relaxing time on the beach, with a cold drink in one hand and a book in the other? An adventurous tour of a brand new place? A spectacular cruise with a fantastic chef onboard? Whatever your idea of a great vacation is, my question to you is this: have you taken it? Have you ever been on the kind of vacation you’ve always wanted?

If you are like most people, the answer is: probably not. We don’t take most of our vacation time. It all just sits there, often unused and lost. But why? Why aren’t we taking the time that we have been given? We’re pretty good at coming up with excuses. Sometimes we convince ourselves that work just couldn’t survive without us. Sometimes we tell ourselves that it is too expensive, or we don’t have somebody to go with us. Sometimes we let our fears get the better of us—fear of flying, fear of new places, or the fear of trying something new.

But you know what? Studies have shown that experiences—much more than objects—make us happier. It’s time we stop coming up with excuses and start actually taking vacations!

I don’t mean you have to take a month off from work and go into debt just so you can spend time on some island in Fiji. Vacations aren’t solely about where you go, it’s about taking a break from your regular life and doing something you might not have done otherwise. It is about making lasting memories for yourself (and maybe those worth sharing those memories with, like a significant other or your family). It is a time for you to indulge in a passion, learn something new, or simply just take a break. You don’t need to fly half a world away or spend lots of money to do that.

Do some research into places you are interested in going, even if it is only in the next town over (or even something even closer to you that you have always wanted to check out but haven’t). Set a budget. Look online and see if you can find free events or discount codes. Figure out how much time you can get away. And then GO.

Once you’re actually on vacation, don’t think about what’s going on at work—it will all be there waiting for you when you get back and you can deal with it then. Try not to let hiccups derail you, and don’t obsess about all the little things that could go wrong with your trip. You’re not trying to have the perfect vacation; there is no such thing. Instead, try to stay in the moment as much as possible. Look at the way the sunlight hits the water. Savor the way your meal tastes. Enjoy every new experience, even if it doesn’t go the way you expected. Take mental notes so that you can relive the good experiences once you’ve gone home and are having a tough time. Use a camera, even if it’s just the one on your phone. Print out your favorite shots and hang them up at home or at work for when you need a little bit of a pick me up. It will remind you of how much fun you had and for you to keep finding the time to get away.

Beauty is All Around Me

One thing that I have discovered now that I have time off is a nature trail by my house. I guess technically I always knew it was there but I never actually had time to explore it until now. It’s amazing. Weather permitting, I try to get out there at least once a day.Each time I get to experience something new and amazing. I have heard the songs of lots of different birds and am starting to learn which are which. It helps when I can see them! This week alone, I spotted two cardinals, a woodpecker, and even a bluebird.There’s also a mockingbird I see some mornings who has a car alarm sound down pat! I’ve also seen butterflies in all different colors. My favorite was the yellow swallowtail I saw drinking from a puddle. There areflowers and bamboo growing everywhere I look, and even some wild strawberries along the edges of the trail. The other day, I even saw a deer—I came around a curve and there she was! She must be used to people because she didn’t seem startled at all. Just turned and gracefully made her way up a slight hill and into the trees. It was magical. I was so spellbound that I forgot to breathe.

At first, it was only the really obvious stuff that I saw, like the things I talked about before on the nature trail. Things that you can pick up without much observation. However, once I started looking, I’m finding beauty in other places, too. The way a patch of sunlight comes through my living room window and makes the hardwood floor glow. The patterns on the surface of my morning cup of tea.A kind expression on someone’s face when I smile at them and they smile back. The graceful bend in the stem of a tulip I picked from the yard and placed in a vase on the dining room table. If you’re looking, really looking, you’ll be surprised at what a beautiful place the world can be.

This has been a great way for me to be more mindful and to appreciate what is going on around me at any given moment. It has been relaxing and surprisingly fun. Even when I’m driving and I am stressed, I can appreciate the beauty in the nice breeze coming through the window or maybe a great song on the radio. It only takes a moment but it has been beneficial so far.

I don’t have to go to a museum or spend a lot of money on a piece of art. There is so much beauty in the world, and we’ve gotten so good at tuning it out to focus on more “important” things that we don’t know how to turn it back on when we need a moment of peace. I’m going to continue practicing this. After missing out for so long, I want to see all those lovely things that would have passed me by like I had blinders on. I am so thankful every day that the entire pace of my life has shifted and I am able to do this. I will keep up the hard work.

 

Learning to be in the Moment

There is a lot going around lately about being more mindful. It’s more than simply stopping to smell the roses. It is a real psychological technique to help you take a step back and see things for what they really are, instead of seeing them through your faulty perspective—by removing your opinions and prejudices from a situation, you are open to more experiences.

Part of the problem we all have is that we’re always doing something. When we’re working, we’re also trying to figure out what we’re having for dinner or wishing we were anywhere else. While we’re eating a meal, we’re watching a show or reading email because we can’t leave work behind. We dwellon past mistakes. We stress about the future. It’s no wonder we’re always stressed and exhausted.So what I’m trying to do now is learning how to focus all the energy I used to spend stressing and struggling on what is actually happening right in front of me at any given moment. —

The first step is to stop that constant narration that is going on in my head. Now when I feel my thoughts racing, I stop and focus on something—anything—in front of me. It can be as simple as a picture on my desk or the song playing on the radio. It helps pull me out of my own head and separates me from all those thoughts. The next step is to acknowledge a moment when everything is just right. When I eat a great meal or listen to a favorite song, I try to focus on it for a moment. It’s hard to stop and find the time to appreciate something but it really makes me feel happier when I savor that moment.Another thing I am trying is to stop multitasking. Rather than trying to do too many things at the same time, I want to focus on the task that I am actually working on before I move on. I thought it would slow me down, but it turns out that I am able to concentrate more and do things right the first time when I am not distracted by all the other things I am trying to accomplish as I go along. I’m actually more productive than before!

I’m also trying to stop ‘losing time.’ These are those moments where, for example, you’re driving and you have no idea how you got to your destination. Or maybe you find yourself reading the same sentence over and over. It is also those internet wormholes that you find yourself in when you’re supposed to be working. Instead, I am trying to stay focused on the activity I am engaged in and be aware of my surroundings.

The last thing I am working on is to accept my emotions. This one has been especially difficult. Like most people, I try to avoid pain and painful experiences. However, pain is impossible to avoid. Rather than trying to wish it away or distract myself, I am trying to allow myself to feel whatever emotion I’m feeling. This one is something I am really struggling with. It goes against my very nature to acknowledge a difficult situation. But accepting the pain that my old job was bringing me was part of what made me realize that it was the job that was having such a negative impact on my life. Once I was able to separate the two, I realized there was something I could do about it and left.

It has been challenging but very worth it, and I am going to continue to try being mindful. What about you? Have you heard about this or are you interested in trying it?

Really Experience a Meal

One thing that we don’t always take the time to fully appreciate is food.Sure it’s something that’s necessary for us to survive, but we often opt for what’s quick or eat mindlessly instead of choosing something healthy and paying attention while we eat. Food activates so many of our senses that a little effort can go a long way.Think about it: you notice two things right away about food: how it looks and how it smells. If it looks good visually, we start to think it is going to taste good, too. The more colors you have on a plate, the more appealing it will be—again, making us think it will taste better. The same thing goes for smells. If something smells terrible, no matter how delicious it might be, we aren’t going near it. The texture is important, too. We’ve all got foods that we avoid because of the way it feels—whether it be mushy bananas or slimy okra, there’s something that makes you gag just thinking about having to put it in your mouth. There are sounds that we look for, too, when we are cooking—the snap of spaghetti when it is broken so it fits in a pot, the crunch of a crispy potato chip or a ripe apple. But the most important sense involved with food is taste; the better something tastes, the more likely we are going to be to eat it.

As you can see, cooking and eating is a much bigger sensory experience than you might have realized. We should acknowledge that and spend more time appreciating the experience. I’m not saying that you have to stop and take pictures of everything that you ever cook or eat in your entire life, but I am sure you can find some middle ground between that and what you’re doing now. Maybe instead of eating as fast as possible while you’re sitting at your desk at work, you can take that 10 extra minutes and go sit in the break room.Even if you just take a moment to consciously appreciate the food and the nourishment that you are providing for yourself, it helps to shift your mind to a more positive place before you start eating. You can put a little energy into making your meal look appealing, even if it’s just leftovers.This does not require fancy arrangements, china plates or gold-plated silverware. Maybe just getting a reusable lunch bag in a pattern you like or a special glass for your drink is enough to elevate the experience for you.

f you’re cooking a dish, try not to think of it as just a hassle or chore. Listen to the sounds of the kitchen: a boiling pot or the sizzle and pop of hot oil in a pan. Take time to smell the different ingredients and watch them change as you interact with them—things like cutting, heating, roasting, seasoning. Appreciate the fact that you are creating something nourishing for yourself and your loved ones. Try to enjoy it as often as you can. I know I’m going to try to as well.

Being Kinder to Myself

There is something that I’ve been wrestling with that I’m sure a lot of other people can relate to, which is why I thought it would make a really good post. I have a hard time being kind to myself. I realized that I am nicer to strangers than I am to myself. And I’m sure that there’s a part of me that can justify this behavior by saying, “Well, I don’t know those people; they seem perfectly fine. But I’m around myself all the time, so of course I know every single one of my flaws and every single mistake that I have ever made.” The truth of the matter is, I’m sure they’ve got the same thoughts in their head. Nobody’s perfect. I have to remember that everyone has done things they aren’t proud of or wish they could have done differently.

I am sure that I am also not alone in taking responsibility for things that have nothing to do with me. It’s my fault that the place I wanted to have a picnic lunch was so crowded that we ended up leaving instead of eating. It’s my fault that a birthday card got lost in the mail, because if I had just mailed it earlier it would have gotten there on time.

As much as I’d like to think I am the center of the universe, I’m not. I’m not responsible for every single thing that happens. Some things just happen because that’s the way it is. The other thing, and this is really important, is that no amount of dwelling or fixating on the past is going to change anything. The only thing that I can do is apologize to people if I think that will help bring some closure to a situation. Hopefully, the person will forgive me and we can put the issue to rest; but since I know I cannot make someone accept my apology, I have to be prepared to accept that as a resolution in itself and make my peace with it that way. I can learn from my mistakes and make an effort not to repeat them. Just beating myself up over and over is not being kind to myself. It accomplishes nothing other than making me feel bad about myself.

I also realized that some of the stuff that I’ve been carrying around with me seemed kind of dumb. We’ve all accidentally cut someone off or said something accidentally offensive. Or maybe we forgot somebody’s birthday–maybe the reason wasn’t malicious, maybe it was just that you were caught up in something else. The point is, a lot of this stuff is unintentional. We do a lot of dumb things. We aren’t usually trying to be hurtful or nasty, it just happens sometimes. And the more I examine these things I continually beat myself up over, the more I realize that I’m human. We all do these things sometimes. It’s the only way we learn sometimes.

By reminding myself that everyone else finds themselves in the same boat now and again, it’s harder to get so upset by my mistakes. Dwelling on them doesn’t have the same effect as before. I can accept the situation as something I can actively try to make better or I have to make peace with it and move on. Doing so has been hard but it has allowed me to exercise much more self-compassion and kindness toward myself. This is definitely something I am going to continue to work on.