“Please notice when you are happy”

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I’ve come across this Kurt Vonnegut quote twice in one week and in light of some crappy fatigue-related things I thought I’d better write about it. The full quote is “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

I saw this on Facebook from Huffington Books and then came across it in my bedroom on the positive thoughts display my Mum gave me when I was having a rough time a few years ago.

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Since I wrote about pushing too hard the other day I’m now trying to look for the little things in life that make me happy but don’t require huge expenditures of energy for this snoozie suze… Because the trickiest thing I find with this fatigue business is doing enough so that I don’t go round the bend but without wearing myself out as I did last week – yuck, that was not fun. Yes, I need to look after myself, but I also need some interaction apart from with my rather extensive DVD collection.

So, the plan? Well, when I had depression a few years ago my psychologist told me to do something nice for myself every day and write it down, whether that was going for a walk in a nice park, watching my favourite movie or painting my toe nails. Sure it didn’t lift me out of the hideous depression fog but it made one moment in a day better. So, this idea of little things making you happy is appealing to me as I’m not up to playing a game of netball, driving hours to see friends, going surfing or out on the town for cocktails, and I do get pretty low and lonely at times…

And what are my never fail feel good things? The little ones… (and no, skiing, drinking games and rolling down a hill for fun are currently not suitable options) that can snap me out of a woe-is-me moment and allow me to think, “well, isn’t this nice” – and overpower the gloominess of thinking “I am sick of being sick”.

The list:

Tea: Making a proper pot of tea in one of my very cool tea pots and drinking the delicious brew in a quiet and calm manner and enjoying this simple act – not like skolling luke-warm Lipton tea at my old desk at work in between multitasking too many things… And when I’m feeling wrecked and looking for a reason to get up and move I find that walking to the kitchen to boil water and spoon out fancy tea is a pretty achievable goal. Then there’s the whole soothing feeling of a hot mug; it’s like a hug for your hands.

teapot

Coffee shop visiting: My dad doesn’t get this one, he’s always thought of going out for coffee as a waste of money but I’ve been perfecting the art of going out for coffee and cake since I first moved to Melbourne aged 18 and discovered the wonder of Lygon Street! I’ve been making a study of Geelong and Surf Coast cafes of late, and am sure to visit a Melbourne favourite every time I pop up there. Coffee seems to intrinsically go with cake, and that’s a positive thing for sure, and then there’s the people watching – when I’ve just been hanging out with the parentals for too long I need to spy on new people! And the cafes I like all have character, whether it’s a menu pasted in to a little golden children’s book, a soft toy instead of a table number, brilliant cake displays, a collection of old-school mixing beaters hanging from the roof or simply a brilliant view.

cafes2Baby play dates: This is a new area in my life (no I do not have a baby, my friend does) and one that I’ve noticed not only makes me smile, but act like a child myself. When you’re a bored and fatigued 27-year-old doing a fair amount of worrying about how you’re going to get better a baby play date is the prescription of choice. My friend’s baby Eddy not only makes me smile but laugh, giggle, speak utter nonsense, bounce around the house and read books in my very best funny voices (all those years of drama are finally paying off!). I saw the little man the other night and five minutes of cuddles made me light headed with happiness. Then we gave him a bath… Well, what joy and delight did this kid share with us. As he splashed and laughed and patted his chubby tummy I felt like someone had shot me up with dopamine and endorphins all at once. He did almost squirt me in the face with wee, but we’ll let that one slide. His parents are good fun to see too 😉

eddyroundedDogs: I’m going to have to do another whole post about all the animals at home but in short they’re smile-makers, particularly our doggies. We’ve got three curly coated retrievers who are enormous, love to play the fool, have such unconditional love and are very tactile to pat. Whether I’m patting them, chatting to them (they totally understand), taking them to the beach (this is an instant happy fix) or they are keeping me company on a bad day curled up on my bed they instantly make me feel a bit better.

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Baking: There’s something very soothing for me in creaming butter and sugar, adding condensed milk, flour and chocolate chips and knowing the best choc-chic biccies will be coming out of the oven in 12-15 minutes. It’s probably not the diet of choice but when life hands you a shitty hand with post-viral fatigue home-baked goods have to help, and I try to offload most of my baking on to friends and family anyway. If I’m experiencing a brain-fog day I make things I’ve been making since I was six: pancakes, pikelets and anzac biccies are best.

baking2

Music: It’s no secret that music can influence your emotions and I’ve read a bit about the importance of music in medicine. I’ve got two playlists on the go at the moment one is called Upbeat Happiness and the other Calming Songs. Both serve their obvious purpose and are about 40 minutes long so I can tune out the world and just listen to music for a while and notice my mood change. I’m also a musical nerd so a half hour of belting out the songs from Les Mis/South Pacific/Sound of Music is a guaranteed happy place for me. We also have a pianola at home and while my pathetically weak legs won’t enjoy the peddling yet, in time this might become a daily activity (god help my family as I cannot sing but can’t help joining in). We have everything from Scotland the Brave to The Beatles to My Fair Lady to Buddy Holly to distract me from reality – post-viral what now?

And when all else fails just let Bernard Black make you smile with his nonsense from the brilliant comedy, Black Books.

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