Many therapists and self-help gurus agree that taking steps to change your mood can help you feel more empowered and happier overall. If we work with this premise, why not use the end of the Summer to press the reset button and re-energize yourself?
Use experiences from your past and present to help you feel good now. The Summer season, with its long days and slower pace, is a wonderful time for most people. You may not feel that it is a great time for you, or you may be in a holding pattern and focused on your next steps. Life, like family building, is better for some than for others, but everyone experiences ups and downs. Wherever you are now, making your life even a little bit better can really feel uplifting.
Here are three steps you can take this month:
- For a little boost, think back to some days from this Summer or Summers past when you had a happy moment or experience. It can be big or small. Maybe you enjoyed a special day on the beach, or remember playing outside with your friends when you were little. Close your eyes and picture that moment. Think about how you felt. Did the sun feel warm? Did you wear a big sweatshirt that belonged to your high school sweetheart because that Summer was a little chilly? Do you remember taking a walk with a loved one and really enjoyed holding that person’s hand? Think about the feeling associated with this memory. Think about it every day for two minutes, write about it in a journal. Then try to elicit that feeling when things are not going well.
- Use the feeling (not necessarily the situation you remember, but the feeling associated with it, i.e., calm, joy, warmth, etc..) to create an experience with a similar feeling. It does not need to be exactly the same. The goal is to elicit another positive feeling. It is likely that the feeling you were drawn to in step #1 is a feeling that you truly value. Dig deep into your memory. Did you like to ride your bike when you were young? Did you enjoy playing outside with your dog when you came home from college? Then try to create a situation where you will have a similar feeling. Volunteer at an animal shelter, rent a bike, take a hike, or go out for ice cream. Pay attention to the way you feel during the experience and when that good feeling arises, make a mental note of it. Savor it and write about it in your journal. Try to add one new experience each week. No matter how busy you are, you can find time for one small pleasurable experience a week to add to your list.
- After each moment pondering these feelings, take three seconds to feel grateful for that pleasurable experience.
Give this exercise a month. Email me about how you felt about this or anything else. I would love to hear from you.