Monday, May 4, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Get Out of a Rut

As I trudged to the subway this morning under the gray, dense skies, I considered my mood over the last week. I've been a little down lately. Could be the rainy weather, losing my aunt recently, worry about my mom's total knee replacement, the state of the economy and our nation's safety. It's likely a mixture of all of this. And I'm wondering what I'm really doing with my life every day - am I making a difference, or at least as big a difference as I could make?

Some of my friends and family members have recently expressed the same concern about their own lives. On my subway ride to work, I thought of ideas that might help me and help others out of this little rut. Here are some I came up with. Would love to hear what's worked for you when you need a little pick-me-up!

1.) Ice cream. There's something really special to me about getting an ice cream cone and strolling around my neighborhood. It reminds me of being a kid and being a kid inspires me to be a little more wistful and hopeful.

2.) Send someone a present. My friend, Brooke, recently moved from New York City and I've had her going away present / new house warming present sitting on my table for about a month. I put it into a padded envelope and sent it off to her today. It helped my mood considerably to be sending her a surprise. Same goes for sending someone a card or doing something nice for someone.

3.) Yoga and running. Both get me moving and remind me of how lucky I am to be in good health. While exercising, I think about building strong bones and muscles, increasing my lung capacity, and solutions to tough situations I'm having at the moment.

4.) Clean my apartment. For me, cleaning is therapy. I don't like doing it but I love the end result. And my world looks a little brighter from the vantage point of a sparkling apartment.

5.) Communicate with others. Call a friend, send an email, get brunch with someone, click around on Twitter and see what people are talking about today. Breaking out of our self-imposed isolation is a mood lifter in and of itself.

6.) Find someplace to get lost. For me those places are Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History. Placing myself in the middle overwhelming beauty gives me a new perspective and make me feel connected to something much bigger than myself.

7.) Dive into a book. I'm always amazed at the way literature connects us to people across the world and across time. This reminder of common human experiences makes me feel less alone.

8.) Write. Yesterday I sat down to write a short story about a situation I witnessed on the street a few days ago. I put myself back in that exact situation, saw it all unfolding in my mind, and wrote it all out. When looking back at the story and reading work I was doing a few years ago, I realized how much progress I've made in my story telling by practicing every day. It was really gratifying to see myself improving a skill that I enjoy.

9.) Think about my ideal day and consider how I could live at least a little piece of that ideal day every day. Maybe it's volunteering, thinking about what business I'd like to start, whipping up a really delicious meal with friends, or spending time with someone I love. Even on the worst days we have the ability to incorporate glimmers of happiness.

10.) Spend some time with an animal. Could be your own pup or kitten, a friend's pet, or taking puppies at the local shelter on a walk. Animals have a natural inclination toward happiness and they take us right along with them.

There are countless ways to get ourselves into a healthier and happier frame of mind. All we need is intention, attention, and commitment to living a better day every day.

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