On my way to the car, I was stopped the look on my friend’s face. We were drenched in sweat after sixty minutes of non-stop movement, led by her enthusiastic Zumba alter ego. A few minutes after class, however, her face reflected a heavy heart.
As we chatted, I was reminded of my journey through the irritating hurdles of daily life abroad: Streets clogged with traffic, nonsensical rules for businesses, exorbitant taxes to fly the national airline.
My way around these pesky, debilitating-to-happiness moments, was discovered the hard way. I had to stop dwelling on them.
Sounds logical, but the simplest solutions are the most complicated to implement.
Try this with me the next time you’re telling that flesh peeling angry story (or in howler monkey mode as my tirades have been nicknamed).
Be 100% indignant. As right as right you can be. For 3 minutes. Okay, 10 if you really need it. And then, as made immortal to the chagrin of parents (maybe people) everywhere: let it go.
I’m convinced that half (or more) of our misery comes from rehashing and rehearsing our anger, disappointment, betrayal, or fear. When we talk about the negative moment, the tentacles of residue reach into our minds to take us emotionally back to the moment of distress.
Our body reacts as if it were happening again. We are insulted, offended, wronged: our foreheads crinkle, our lips frown. Whatever resolve we may have had evaporates.
Next time you, or a friend, are being hijacked by the blues, halt the rehearsal train. Switch tracks to a new task or a happy memory.
If ever you see me talking to myself in the car, it’s because that’s my mentally most vulnerable moment when I’m stuck in traffic and my defenses are down.
Bored because BBC World Service isn’t working, my brain ranges for something to chew over. My thoughts bend towards negative memories because they are stronger than positive ones. To halt the downward spiral, I say out loud, sometimes at full volume: STOP.
Here’s to stopping the negativity so the sun can come in.
What strategies do you use to regain focus? Here’s to happiness.