I received a book I ordered through Indigo that I have been anxiously waiting for. Its called Once Around Algonquin by a friend named Kevin. Hs is one of my natural mentors. I opened the book and read the name of the first chapter: Finding My Happy Place. Right on the nail head. That’s what the wilderness, normally Algonquin, means to me and why our business is happy to call Huntsville, Ontario and Algonquin Provincial Park home. In it, relating to a stressful situation, Kevin wrote:
“To survive, I needed to go to my happy place. I searched my bag… and found an old Algonquin Provincial Park map folded up at the bottom. It was weathered, stained with coffee, and even had a few unlucky mosquitoes squashed on it. Planning my next canoe trip in Algonquin became my salvation.”
Sometimes life and other people can get to you causing you to feel stressed, anxious and generally unhappy. What to do? While there are tons of ways of dealing with this, you generally want to get to your happy place.
What and where is your happy place? How do you get there? Ponder on these two versions of the same events:
If you’re driving to work in rush hour traffic, thinking and stressing about all that faces you when you get to the office, it would be almost impossible to have a relaxed and productive day. The stress would carry through the day, probably escalating as you dealt with each difficult person and challenging situation. Then you would further increase the stress on the drive home through another rush hour of traffic and annoying drivers while you dwelled on the day at the office and stressed about all you had to accomplish.
You would bring all the stress and anxiety of the day home to your family. By this time your nerves are fried and having a great conversation with your partner would be almost impossible. Instead, you would probably want to eat something quick and comforting (and generally unhealthy) while you veg out in front of the television. Then you would go to bed and wake up the next day to repeat the process.
Isn’t there a better way? Of course, there is. You just have to slow down enough to get there.
You’re always in such a hurry to get somewhere, accomplish and achieve more and more. It’s rare that you slow down enough to ask where you’re really going.
Imagine this scenario instead.
You’re driving to work in rush hour traffic, thinking about the great conversation you had with your partner over a healthy breakfast. You come up with solutions for how to solve the problems that you know are facing you when you get to the office. While you’re at work, you work through your priorities in a relaxed and focused state. Interactions with others are peaceful. By the end of the day, you feel good about all that you accomplished. During the drive home in rush hour traffic, you’re thinking about the great dinner you’ll have with your family, your children’s big, loving eyes and the time you’ll spend on your passion.
The mind game
What’s the difference between the two scenarios? Nothing in the outside world changed. Traffic, things at home and at the office were identical. The entire difference was a change in your attitude and the things you focused on.
The difference is all in your head. Literally.
How do you make the leap between the two scenarios? By learning to get to your happy place on a regular basis.
Calming down your mind
You sometimes think of a happy place as a physical place, and it can certainly be that. Taking a walk in nature. Playing with our kids. Having coffee and a great conversation with a friend.
But you can’t limit your ability to find a happy place to something physical. You need to be able to carry it around with you wherever we go so it’s there whenever you need it.
How do you do this?
The most important first step is to slow down enough to become aware of your thoughts. Grab your monkey mind by the neck, and let it know that you’re not going to let him run amok in your head any longer.
When you start feeling stressed and anxious, stop and take three deep breaths. Stress and anxiety are types of fear. Ask yourself what you’re fearing. Face it. Address it right then and come up with an action you can take to diffuse it.
Getting to work late and your boss will be angry? Start leaving 10 minutes earlier.
Dealing with a difficult boss or co-workers? Realize that these people have issues that you can’t control. It’s all about them, not you.
Completing a big project well and on time? Know that every day you’re doing your best. Perfection is impossible (and a huge waste of time and your energy). Your best will change from day to day, but as long as you’re doing your best, that’s the best you can do.
Having too much to do? Limit your to-do list to no more than three things every day because that’s realistically all you’ll be able to accomplish – and sometimes that’s a stretch. Changing your expectations changes your perception of what you do accomplish and allows you to feel better.
Now that you’ve slowed things down and given your mind more productive things to think about, you can move to your happy place.
Who or what makes you incredibly happy?
- Spending fun time with your family or friends
- Interacting with your passion
- Spending quiet time in solitude
- Exercising or simply moving your body
- Traveling to fabulous places.
- Take a moment to do these things in your mind now.
Close your eyes. Relax all of your muscles. Clear your mind. Take a few deep breaths.
Now go to your own private happy place in your mind. In my case, spending quiet time in solitude. See, hear, smell, feel yourself in your happy environment. The scent of the ones, the lapping of the lake water, and the dip of a canoe paddle come to mind for me.
Spend a few minutes there.
You might feel like you can’t if you’ve got a lot going on. The world – your world – won’t come crashing down if you stop for a few minutes. It’s the same amount of time it would take you to go to the bathroom. Maybe go to the bathroom to do this so you’ll have the privacy and you won’t have to worry about what others might think.
We all need to spend more time in our happy places.
How can you prioritize spending time in your physical happy place more often?
Set reminders on your calendar to go to your virtual happy place throughout your day. I am surrounded by inspirations of my happy place. Paintings, photos, calendars, looking at scenery are constant reminders for me.
You’ll be amazed at how this simple exercise can transform your days and your life. You’ll have more energy. You’ll have a more positive outlook. Your relationships will benefit from your increased positivity. This is one of the cornerstones of our financial life planning process and are core values to our corporate message. Life seen through the lens of your happy place is one strategy to Keeping Life Current.