Finding Your Happy Place

One of my favorite movies is Happy Gilmore, and in one scene, Happy is advised to go to his own “happy place”.

Well the Wall Street Journal had a story last week that looked at the extremes people will go to to find their own “happy place”.

  • “I love going to the dentist,” says a lawyer from Hilton Head Island, S.C. “It’s 45 minutes when I know nobody is going to interrupt me. You can’t reach me and you can’t ask for anything”. Although he has perfect teeth, he gets them cleaned three times a year instead of the usual two.
  • The sensation of hot, sudsy water against her cleaning gloves calms a young mother and chief marketing officer when she washes dishes after a long day. Alone in the kitchen after her two daughters, ages 1 and 4, go to bed, “I usually just zone out and let my mind wander while sudsing up sippy cups”.
  • A woman from Simi Valley, Calif., has learned to enjoy her 3-hour daily round-trip commute on “the freeway of the damned,”​as she and her friends call Interstate 405 in the Los Angeles area. Sitting in traffic used to frustrate her, but now that she has a 4-year-old daughter, “this is really the only ‘me time’ I get”. She immerses herself as she drives in podcasts about family issues and crime mysteries.
  • A 30-minute morning walk with her dogs does the trick for another woman. She used to see walking the dogs as a chore, but she has learned to see it as a comforting ritual when she can listen to a motivational speech on her phone and imagine the day ahead unfolding smoothly.
  • One person notes that she finds lasting enjoyment in purging clutter.
  • Time to himself was so scarce that one dad began looking forward to mowing and reseeding the lawn, a chore he used to avoid. When his children were sleeping or playing quietly enough that his wife could oversee them, he would head out to the yard for 30 or 40 minutes of solitude. Listening to podcasts, he felt free to “let my mind float off to somewhere else without feeling guilty”.

Finding such happy places has some useful benefits:

  • Quieting the mind, even briefly, can calm the body and improve health and well-being.
  • Taking a timeout helps parents tune into physical tensions that otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Savoring small pleasures by dwelling on them and wringing out as much enjoyment as possible can lend meaning amid adversity.

So by all means, go ahead and find your happy place.

One of my happy places, which I’ve written about before, is simply sitting in my car while it is in the driveway and reading a book. It’s warm, it’s comfortable, there are no distractions, and you’re sort of out in nature.

It’s an amazing combination, give it a try sometime. Just be ready for some odd looks from your neighbors…

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