What makes you happy?

Happiness triggers

What do you need right now?

Learning to take time to care for ourselves when we need it is important, and it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Having gone through burn-out, I use my life and experience as a cautionary tale. I don’t want anyone to experience what I went through. I see many people headed down the same road of late.

Feeding my super-woman, perfectionist personality was toxic. As life’s pressures mounted, I kept pushing, trying harder on high alert and totally enmeshed in the stress response. The number of lists I kept grew and expanded, just trying to keep track of everything.

In that state, my brain and once-excellent memory didn’t perform well, I became forgetful and hyper-vigilant and even small tasks became difficult, hence the many lists. This terrified the perfectionist in me, only adding more stress chemicals to the mix.

Sleep became illusive as worrisome thoughts plagued my nights and my body, filled with adrenaline, was wound-up and tense. I shot out of bed in the morning like a coiled spring, a pit already present in my belly. Headaches, digestive issues, and muscle-aches and pains were the norm back then.

I used to think self-care was something to do after all of the work was done. Even pleasurable things became one more thing to do.

I learned living life like it’s a check-list, the work was never done. I was left feeling empty, irritable, sad, afraid, and broken. I was forced to stop when my body and mind said enough. It took me a long time to heal. Do not do what I did.

I had to learn to find joy in the simple pleasures because for many years I missed them. I was a human-doing and not a human-being. I missed the memo that you cannot give from an empty container, and never took the time to reset and nourish myself. I had never stopped to ask myself, ‘what do I need now?”

Learning to employ pre-determined strategies to uplift myself has been transformational. In taking responsibility for my own wellness and happiness, I’ve found we don’t have to be victim to life circumstances or even my perfectionist tendencies. It helps me reset my attitude and the altitude from which I view my life.

Crawling into bed the other night brought me such great joy. I could hardly wait to climb in to my cocoon of line-fresh bedding and savour the scent of spring. The joy of this moment remains with me, it’s one of my happiness triggers.

Happiness triggers are those simple things we can do to uplift our spirits, transforming even difficult days into something worth living. Employing them has helped me determine how I’m going to feel in a day, and assists in pulling me up when stress mounts or life’s challenges start to get me down.

I was delighted to see a post from my friend Bertie reminding me of how simple, quick, and necessary it is to employ triggers for happiness all throughout my day. I’ve long made it a practice, and it’s certainly improved my life.

Employing happiness triggers requires we be fully present in the moment and not distracted by ruminating on the past, worried about the future, or absorbed in our devices. Happiness triggers are free, ever-available, and we can use them on the fly.

Here are some suggestions:

• Clean sheets (I had to start here)

• Singing. I use up-lifting ear-worms when negative thoughts seem locked in.

• Dancing

• Listening to music

• Savouring a good cup of coffee or tea

• Asking for a hug or phoning a friend

• Preparing your favourite meal

• Gardening

• Walking in the sunshine

• Practicing random acts of kindness

• Sending a card of gratitude

• Intentionally smiling; this causes a cascade of beneficial hormones through your body

In learning to pause and ask myself what I need right now has changed my life. Employing happiness triggers regularly and liberally throughout the day has moved me from surviving to thriving, adding huge benefit to the quality of my life.

At the end of the day, all we really want is to be happy. Pull the happiness trigger for yourself frequently throughout your day.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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