In Search of Shiny Objects and Teenage Turkeys
On the days my system is running a happiness deficit, I keep coming back to the same thing.
When I’m in a really sour, foul, miserable mood, I will go for a walk. And I do not get to turn around and come home until I’ve gone at least a mile, and then I see something that makes me feel genuinely happy.
So, I’ve got a whole mile to walk and feel all sour and miserable and not notice anything, and look at my shoes, and be mad at the weather, and dislike it that there are other people are on the sidewalk, and grouse about why is a car parked there, and bristle that a garbage truck was noisy…
Fine. Get it out of your system.
But then, if you’re out someplace that you’ve never been before, and you’re looking for it… looking for it… looking for it… You’re going to find something that does give you a moment of joy, that does make you laugh, that is the shiny object, that inspires your brain in a different way, that fires off all your little neurotransmitters of happiness, and drops that right in your lap.
This practice has been at the top of my happiness life-hacks for decades. Some days I go for that mile, get it, and go home. Some days I surpass the mile and have to hike a little farther before I can shake it off enough to find my bliss. Once, I ended up walking seven miles. Every time has been worth it.
Actively LOOKING for happiness is one of the easiest ways to FIND happiness.
When we open our mind to the idea of happiness showing up in unexpected ways, we expanded the boundaries of how we define the delights of life.
Capturing a memento of that happiness is how I catalog and remind myself of all the random ways the world is constantly throwing me curveballs of joy. After that first mile, when I am presented with proof that happiness exists, I’ll take a photo. Sometimes I share that image and story with someone else who needs a boost. Often, I’ll go back and review the album and reminisce about finding a super cool unicorn sidewalk chalk drawing. Or meeting Angel, the dog down the street who likes to share her toys. Or the day I was chased by a rafter of teenage turkeys. (That was particularly fun. For everyone else who was watching.)
The funny thing about our brains is that they’re always looking for it… looking for it… looking for it. And by “it” I mean that our brains will seek out what we think about. Inevitably, when I walk out the door having told my brain that we’re on a treasure hunt together for happiness, we’ll find it right away.
And then we’re having so much fun, we just keep going.
Deena Ebbert is Propellergirl.