Every one of us has bad days. And every one of us has good days. Both states pass. And both come again, in different ways.
Life is a balance of light and dark. Happiness comes not from being attached to the good days and dreading the bad days, but by accepting that both are a part of life.
When we accept this, we are able to view life from a more balanced perspective, with equanimity, enjoying the good times, learning from the hard times, and appreciating that both have a role in our life.
There will never come a time when the learning stops. There is no point kidding your self by saying when this or that happens, everything will be perfect forever. It won’t be, because more learning will always come your way. It is when you accept this, that life becomes easier, both on the good and bad days.
It doesn’t mean that life will never get easier. It will, as you become more equipped to cope with it and to understand it. But there will always be learning.
Sometimes though, and certainly in these modern times of Western Society, the hard days linger longer for many. During these days, weeks, months and even years, finding the strength to trust that the hard times will pass can be overwhelming. Hope is all that draws us forward at times and if you have been in a place of darkness for a long time, then hope is not always possible to find.
So it is during such times that even the smallest steps are necessary to find hope again and some enjoyment in your day. Sometimes things that are disguised as small steps can be a huge catalyst in turning things around. When even finding a reason to get out of bed and get on with your day is a challenge, you need to be gentle and kind on yourself and accept that perhaps right now, you are only capable of small steps.
Here are some small things you can do to feel better.
1. Buy some colouring in pencils and draw. Or buy a colouring in book and colour in. It is very simple and childlike. But colour carries many healing properties and the distraction of drawing or colouring will bring you to a more present space, rather than dwelling on your situation. Anything creative with colour will be beneficial.
2. Make a list of your best qualities, yes you have some, everyone has goodness in them. Think of things you’ve done in the past, things that have left you feeling good. It may be things you’ve done, or it may be things you like about yourself. Maybe you once did a random act of kindness for someone, that no one else recognised needed doing. Or you like your smile, or that you used to be able to make people laugh (and you will again). Acknowledge these positive parts of yourself, without any reference to anything negative you see in yourself, no negativity allowed today.
3. Take yourself to somewhere with birds in their own environment. Birds in cages do not qualify. Simply watch the birds go about their day. Listen to their joy in being alive, how they sing for the pure love of it. Watch the freedom of their flight. They too have to survive and have their challenges. But they still remember to be joyous along the way.
4. Ban yourself from the computer for a whole day and night. Don’t even turn it on. Have such days regularly. In the times we now live in, it is easy to forget about life going on outside. Computers are great in many ways. On the surface, they bring us more together, yet in other ways, they isolate us even more. Turn the computer off. Do something that you used to enjoy before the days of computers took over your life. Go for a walk. The exercise will be good for you too.
5. Call a friend who will make you laugh. Don’t call a friend who will wallow in your sadness with you, despite their kind intentions. Today is not a day for that. Just call a friend who will joke about nothing with you. If you cannot think of anyone, go for a walk in your local neighbourhood. Think of someone who serves you in your day to day life who is always cheery. Have a brief chat and laugh with them. They will enjoy it too.
6. Dress in something that makes you look and feel nice, perhaps a brighter colour than what you have been wearing. Pay attention to your appearance and take pride in yourself, no matter how much effort it takes. It doesn’t matter if you think you are kidding yourself into feeling better, it is a change and change is necessary to alter your current state. And it is an achievable goal when you are down.
7. Visit someone you know with children and hang out with the little ones for a while. Sing some songs, play make believe, hide and seek, anything. If there are no children you know nearby, just watch other children from a distance. Observe their simplicity and joy and remember that you too were once a child and these qualities are still a part of you too. Hop on a swing and lean back, get some wind beneath you and feel yourself glide through the air.
8. Look through old photo albums and remember the happy times. Even if they bring memories that also make you sad, remember the good times too. It is easy to focus on loss, loneliness or lack, rather than blessings that have once been there. If there are no photos, think back to some fun memories and relive them in your mind. Laughing out loud is definitely permitted.
9. Eat healthy food. If you don’t have the strength or energy to prepare something for yourself, go out and buy a fresh juice, or a salad or soup. Chat with whoever serves you, smile at them. Healthy food heals both the body and the mind. So does smiling.
10. Have a beautiful bath. Use scents and candles. Make it a special thing, even if it is in the middle of the day. Nurture yourself. If you can, treat yourself to a massage, be pampered. Human touch is something we all need and it is easy when you are down to isolate yourself, hence becoming touch starved. Hugs are always recommended. Hug someone if there is someone to hug. If not, go out and get some human contact. Or pat an animal. We all need to be nurtured and we all need touch.
Every little thing that you can do to change your current disposition will be far more beneficial than it may appear. Any glimpse of happiness or hope, no matter how small, is better than none at all.
And if you manage to do just one of these things, then congratulate yourself for the effort. It doesn’t matter if you are not strong enough to be the person you once were. Trust that healing is happening in your life now. You don’t have to become who you were, rather you will become who you are meant to be when this healing time has passed. It will be someone new, someone amazing, someone accepting, someone happy.
You will smile again. It may not feel like it yet. But never lose hope. You will smile again, you will. You simply will.
And that in itself is worth smiling about, is it not?!