Summer is nearly here, and it’s my favorite season. I simply adore the hot, dry smell of burnt toast air, the feel of the scorched pavement melting my tender soles through the bottom of my flip flops, and the tiny trickles of sweat that dribble down my back. OK, so – not really. But I do love summer. It brings with it a plethora of happy memories. I love the lazy schedule, no carpool, and no rushed packing of lunches and misplaced shoes. I like the sharp tang of the chlorine that lingers in the laundry room and in my hair. It reminds me of times when I was carefree; times when the biggest worry was when the Good Humor truck was coming and how late could we stay out and catch lightning bugs. Yes, we did that, and caught lots of mosquitoes, worms and tree frogs too. Summer was always about friends,mat icky, drippy Popsicles and lots of unscheduled down time. It was family road trips, packed in the car with Bingo boards and peanut butter sandwiches. Maybe there were a few weeks of camp, and lots of hanging around at Michele’s (her folks had the only pool in the neighborhood, back when above ground was awesomely cool). It was bike rides to Sweets and Treats for nickel handfuls of candy from the barrel up front, and if you had a quarter, there was cola or blue Marino’s Italian Ices. We wielded those bright lemon yellow cups like trophies., wooden paddle spoons at the ready. “These,” as the song says,” are a few of my favorite things.”
Even without brown paper packages tied with strings, it is incredibly important to find your happiest moments, and to use them to stay happy in the present. You need to find happiness that is yours alone, and not dependent on other people or things. I know, you’re thinking about my summer memories. A blissfully ignorant time, and while there are people and places involved, much of the hapoy stuff is mine alone. The lone bike rides down the hilly back pathways between the garden apartments, the secret stash of Bit O’Honey and Bazooka, the last ice pop from the freezer on the hottest day of summer; these are my memories, and my happy times.
We cannot always depend on other people or random “stuff” to be around to keep us hapoy. Sometime, when you find yourself needing a pick me up, you may find yourself in that dark place all alone. So what can you do? Make your own happy of course! 😃
I have learned that everything changes. People are fickle. They come and go from your life as though there were a revolving door on your heart. It means you come up empty when you need that little happiness boost. But this is normal. Over time we grow, we change, we evolve, and we move, change our lifestyle, or just lose touch. Relationships change as we pass through different agendas and situations, and that’s OK. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to maintain one or two fabulous friendships, or to reconnect with an old friend, but it’s not really the same. You’ve both changed. And you don’t feel that same happiness when you’re together. How many of us are still hanging out with the same folk we were with in college? If you are, then count your lucky stars, but for the rest of us, learn to be your own friend.
Like people, “stuff” comes and goes. The car lease is over, the cell phone needs upgrading, your favorite tee has become a holey relic. If your happiness is tied to these material things, you can really stress yourself out. And that is not good for the happiness factor. The short term high of a shopping spree wears off, but if you make your own happiness, well then, you are a lucky ducky. 🐥
Less stress, more happy, isn’t that what we all want? How can you make your happiness your own? Here’s three little ways you can try.
- Stop, reflect, be grateful. OK, so you already know I’m all about this “mindfulness” and meditation, but is it a path to happiness? For me, yes, and maybe for you as well. When I stop and sit and breathe, and all is quiet, I can hear the world. I feel the goodness, the peaceful hapoy feeling that the guided guru of the day is telling me. It helps me have a sense of balance and to appreciate all the little things that I have in my life. You all know we cannot change the way things are, but we can learn to appreciate the slices of life pie that aren’t too tart to handle. For me, just sitting outside, feeling the warm sun, hearing the birds and other sounds of nature, I feel lucky. Though I may not always live in a warm climate, I can appreciate the here and now. I am lucky enough to hear, see, feel, and this sparks my creative nature. Creating makes me hapoy, and is all my own, independent of anyone else. Find contentment in your life, just as it is, and you will find your happy place.
- Set meaningful goals for yourself. These goals should not be career or family oriented, but something for you alone. It’s healthy to have personal goals for your own benefit and pleasure. For me, it’s always been about writing. I have drawers and boxes stuffed with journals, notebooks, envelopes with fragmented story plots and poetry written on the backs of old receipts. To be published? Maybe, but mostly they’re for me, expressions of my soul that remind me of memories. And when that fails to get my happy hormones flowing, I drag out the charcoals. Honestly, I was born to be a dusty, here covered being. The exhilaration I feel when I sketch and shade, black fingers and sooty wrists makes me happy. Everyone should have a hobby to turn to, something to boost your happiness factor, even when nothing seems to be going well in your life. It really makes a difference.
- New “Stuff.” I know. I keep talking about not getting happiness via your credit card and the mall, and this is not about a shopping spree. It’s about learning new things. Since I’ve embarked on my new writing career (well, unpaused it anyway) I have engaged in many different courses, discussions and research. There is always something to learn and when you study for your own personal gain, not fro school or work, it’s very fulfilling. It fills the void in your mind with joy and satisfaction and of course, new knowledge. When you expand your horizons, you learn new things about yourself and re-engage with the world as a better human. Why? Because you’re happy, and maybe even a little smarter. But mostly happy.
I leave you today my friends, to travel to the oh so magnificent library. A sanctuary of knowledge and pleasure for the mind. So do I still need people? Of course! Silly readers, we all need a close friend or two, but remember it behooves you to become your own best friend as well. Having multiple sources of happiness ensures that you won’t fret when you find yourself alone. So learn to enjoy the acrid smell of burning asphalt, the cool, tart taste of a froyo sliding down your throat, the laughter of children out way too late in the humid summer night. They are making memory, as you and I did, stockpiling for happiness in later years. Do something new for yourself. What makes you happy? Have you a hobby that clams you, makes you smirk that silly grin of complacency? Remember : mindful, grateful, peaceful, happy. And don’t forget the coffee. ☕️