Daylight in the mind

I photographed these sunflowers at San Juan Capistrano in July 2004

I photographed these sunflowers at Mission San Juan Capistrano in July 2004

“Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.” —  Joseph Addison

Have you ever had one of those days when you felt angry at the world?  Maybe even for no particular reason?  It’s awful to be caught in that cycle of negativity that seems to just spiral down, down, down.  At such times, perhaps a bit of forced cheerfulness would help.

Easier said than done, of course, but at least there are plenty of ways to deliberately elevate the mood.  Unfortunately, we sometimes choose the wrong refuge when we feel out of sorts.  I think it’s wise to make some premeditated decisions about how to handle– or NOT handle– your next episode of doom, gloom, or discontent.

Bad idea: collapse in front of the TV and zone out on whatever it sends your way: noisy commercials, depressing re-runs, or overly dramatized “tragic news!”

Good idea: choose a funny video to watch, do a word search for “hilarious pet videos” on YouTube, or look at some of the happiest photos you can find.

Bad idea: consume an entire bag of chips, box of donuts, or carton of ice cream (eating directly out of the container, of course)

Good idea: savor a cup of coffee or tea, a piece of fruit, or a single really delicious piece of chocolate

Bad idea: complain, procrastinate, and generally wallow in the muddy mire of your worst circumstances

Good idea: take a walk with some energetic tunes on your portable player, dance to some funky music, or tackle a project you’ve been avoiding and promise yourself a reward when you finish – then DO it!

If it’s a dark and stormy night in your mind, remember that you have the power to switch on the daylight.  It may feel awkward and fake at first, but chances are you really will end up in a happier place than when you started.  Send me a smile!

36 Comments

  1. Mike Bertoglio

    I am trying to think of last funny video I witnessed. Kind of drawing a blank, but “Guilt Trip” with Barbara Streisand was OK. I will have to check out the funny animal video- not to familiar with those.

    • Mike, if you haven’t seen this hilarious viral video, you might enjoy it (although I sort of feel sorry for the dog). There are some really cute ones out there – you might try going to You Tube and searching on “cat in shark suit on Roomba” or “dog playing in snow.”

  2. Ann

    Wonderful tips! I’ve tried many of them – the good and the bad ones. Here’s another silly one…hum (quietly!) something like ‘Zip a di do Dah’ or sing it to your dog, you’re bound to smile if only for a minute.

    • That is a great idea. When my boys were little I would sing silly songs to them and I think I enjoyed it more than they did. I have read research abstracts that indicate singing is therapeutic and quite effective at improving the mood. Thanks for being here!

  3. Great suggestions. But it’s strange that we never sincerely try to improve our mood. We only worsen it by either not trying or going for the wrong methods. All we need is a bit more control over ourselves. Hope you are feeling good, Julia. With prayers….

    • Thanks Bindu, we really do appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers. It’s interesting that sometimes when we get in a bad mood, we tend to “wallow” in it and make it worse. I find that I sometimes need to tell myself to “snap out of it!” It really is a matter of self control, to a much greater degree than we sometimes realize.

  4. Coming your way!!! (Hope today is truly bright for you!) 🙂

    • Thanks Carla, I hope so too! Have a great weekend!

  5. Fran Kettren

    Thanks Julia! Great ideas! I will definitely put these to use! 🙂 You are such a blessing to me. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Fran, you and your family have been a blessing to us as well!

  6. I know it’s never a good idea but I do so love to consume an entire bag of chips, box of donuts or carton of ice cream. AND I like to wash it all down with COKE!!! (and a smile of course) Love you. Hope you have a good day. Let me know if you need anything.

    • Amy, you simply MUST read this article from the Onion with the caveat that it comes with a STRONG LANGUAGE ADVISORY. I do not approve of their word choice, but I must admit that even that is hilarious in the context of this article. I quit reading the Onion regularly awhile back because it seemed to get so offensive, but their twisted take on the news is oddly therapeutic and helps me realize that I’m not the only one who wonders if the “regular” news stories sound slightly insane from time to time.

      • I see what you mean. I am certain I have gene CHP-48/OZ. Guess I better see my doctor about it. 🙂 See I am sending you a smile. Love ya.

        • Amy, I have the gene they mentioned at the end of the article, the one that makes you eat ice cream. But so far, there is no cure!!! I hope there never will be!! Thanks for the smile.

  7. Carolyn

    I’m sending you a smile. Cloudy outside but I am warm and happy in side, so I have a lot to smile about. I will do some things that need to be done, after the year I had, I have lots of things to do that where put on a to do list. Suppose to be a rainy and maybe a stormy day . I hope that you will have many smile today. Love and hugs to you all.

    • Carolyn, I can so identify with the long to-do list, it just seems out of control for me lately. BUT as you say, the important things for you and Jeff to focus on right now are “get well, stay well, enjoy life.” Not bad advice for any of us! Hope you have a lovely weekend despite the rain – remember it will make for beautiful flowers! You are in our prayers.

  8. MaryAnn

    My Dear! You did it again: raised the bar w/ great ideas…I have been doing longer walks thanks to your encouragement and riding my bike on the days I get up earlier enough to beat the heat…those are good mood lifters…this next one may sound odd to some, but I know you get it: I feel accomplished when I pull weeds…I love you & your special way of spreading JOY!

    • Mary Ann, I know you read my post about how I love to pull weeds! It’s very therapeutic, especially on a good day when just enough time has passed after a hard rain to make it not too messy, but easy to pull even the big taproots out. There something very satisfying about getting rid of unwanted stuff; I need to get as good at “emotional weeding” as I am at weeding the flower beds! So happy to have you with us here – you are always in our hearts!

  9. Eric

    I can never say I am really mad at the world; but every day that I live, just forces me to add to the number of people who can kiss my ass.

    • Eric, that’s one of my personal favorite sayings (though it will never show up here as a theme for this blog!) and I must admit I’ve used it rather more than usual lately! All joking aside, once in awhile it helps us not to take even very serious things too seriously…I think when we learn to laugh at our mistakes and failings, rather than get defensive about them, we are that much closer to keeping them underfoot. As C. S. Lewis quoted Thomas More in the preface to The Screwtape Letters, ““The devil…the prowde spirite…cannot endure to be mocked.”

      • Eric

        Carlyle taught us this; and for that, and many other things, I will always be grateful!

  10. Sheila

    Julia, I’ve thought of you and Jeff so many times throughout the day,as we are in camping mode for the weekend. I’m hoping that your days at the hospital are down to just a few. I try to be upbeat and happy,even when times are more “down and out”. It sounds as though Eric has a list of “long and distinguished”. Don’t we all! I hope for a good night and continuing healing for Jeff. Always,Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, I’m happy to say that Jeff seems really better tonight. I could tell the surgeon was pleased when he came by. Jeff won’t let me take a photo of him but I think he looks great and has a full beard by now – lots more white hair than the last time he had it this long (I can’t even remember when that was since he hardly ever takes more than a week away from work) but I think he looks distinguished! Thanks so much for “hanging in there” with us – your prayers are being answered. I always get a kick out of hearing you are camping. You can think of me as a virtual hitchiker who goes along in spirit. I am so happy to hear from you each day, thanks for taking the time to comment every day!

      • Sheila

        Good morning,Julia. We do love our camping weekends and these meals we’re enjoying with friends, especially this time of year. Last night was grilled shrimp, oyster roast, barbeque wings, and grilled chicken. That was just the meats! We are at WillowTree RV Resort if you want to take a peek. It’s a Myrtle Beach campground, 30 minutes out. I am so thankful that Jeff is feeling better. I hope winds of recovery will blow his way and take you home soon. Sending Sunday happiness, Sheila

        • Hi Sheila, I did go to that website to see the campground – it looks super-deluxe! I guess when you live on the beach, it has to be a pretty good campground to be worth going to :-). I always tell Jeff that it takes a really nice place to be worth leaving home for. Jeff and I hope to go vacation for a few days in Myrtle Beach eventually – our nephew (Eric’s son) and his wife and kids live near there. I went there many years ago, but I don’t think he has ever been. Thanks for your encouraging notes! Jeff is still doing better than he has at any point thus far; we’re hoping he’s into the home stretch for this phase of treatment.

  11. I believe that happiness can be a choice. I agree with you that, “…it’s wise to make some premeditated decisions about how to handle– or NOT handle– your next episode of doom, gloom, or discontent.” We should find what works for us and use it. Your suggestions are very helpful 🙂

    • I love your photo of the flowers- it’s beautiful! I’m happy 🙂

      • Thanks so much! I was looking for a cheery photo, and it just seemed to go. I’m glad you liked it! 🙂

    • Thank you! I agree that happiness is usually a choice we make. We can be blindsided by trouble, but eventually when we get over the shock and adjust to it, we can choose how to react. There are so many inspiring examples of people who refused to give up regardless of circumstances. For so many of us, happiness begins with the determination to be grateful and rejoice for all that goes right, despite what may go wrong. Thanks for being here!

  12. I’m sending you a quadruple threat (take that Beyonce, ha). This gal is walking, listening to music, getting exercise AND making me laugh.

    It’s just not reasonable to expect yourself to consciously choose the healthiest reaction to things that turn your world upside down and no one should judge you if you do not. I can’t even imagine how you don’t fall to pieces some days. We are all in awe of your strength Julia but don’t be too hard on yourself if you need a burn out day.

    • Thanks for making me smile! Today is one of those “fall to pieces” days but I agree with you that I will feel perfectly justified with taking that burn out day as soon as I am able. In the meantime, it helps to be in touch with people who are wishing me well!

      • xo, I wish it could be more. My heart goes out to you. BIG hugs.

  13. Rene

    As experienced as I am in choosing each of the BAD IDEAs, usually in combination, I realize it’s time to try a new approach. Planning ahead is a great idea! I’m going to try tomorrow.

    • Rene, I have all kinds of bad ideas I didn’t even list, and I seem to discover more all the time! And yes, I usually fall into more than one. I need to take this post to heart myself today, because I’ve been opting for some bad ideas lately. I’ll try to plan ahead for tomorrow, too – I’ll let you know how it goes! 😀

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