How do you beat the blues? It isn’t uncommon to have your down days, especially with the bipolar weather conditions we’ve been experiencing. We complain of the heat, we blame our mood on the traffic caused by the rain, or we just seem to find excuses to easily put us in a state of looking at the not-too-bright side of things. It’s okay to have your bad moods, your emotional ups and downs, just be aware of them and know that it is up to you to switch your state of mind. What is it that you do or can do to go from sad to happy? This is the core mission of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF)’s new campaign called “Be Happy.” I took a look at their Facebook page (facebook.com/MyHappyHour), which encourages everyone to commit to doing something either at a certain hour, or even for an hour to find their bliss. I thought the concept to be delightful, with fans of the page sharing their stories about what they did that day to invest in their “joy.” It reminded me of another website I follow, author Cami Walker’s 29 Days Of Giving (www.29gifts.org), wherein people are encouraged to open their hearts to giving something every day for 29 days. The energy behind these two websites is similar in essence: when you make a conscious effort to take yourself to a better place, then the emotional hiccups we encounter in life became fewer and fewer. Or at least, we find a way to deal with our “life bumps” with more positivity.
Psychiatrist Dr. Lou Casimiro-Querubin, who was present during the launch, believes the “Be Happy!” initiative can succeed in espousing a “circle of connectedness” at various levels. “First, a connectedness to one’s inner self, which is crucial in being able to help a person identify what he feels and thus be able to do something about it. Second, a connectedness to others, in the context of a universal need of people to feel affirmed and appreciated,” he says, adding that, “To consciously practice moments of random acts of kindness means to reach out on those two trajectories — to the self (which is the inward trajectory) and to others (which is the outward trajectory).”
It’s true, isn’t it? Even if we may not admit it openly, we do want to be needed, we feel better when we know that we “matter” to someone else. In finding ways (during your own “happy hour”) to experience appreciation for what is around you, especially the wonderful individual that you are, you have taken one small, simple step towards lightening your emotional load. Depression can take on many forms, and it can take root from something seemingly trivial, but our personal dramas are relative to us, and it hurts when we’re going through something and someone else scoffs and says it’s “no big deal.”
Jean Goulbourn, founder of NGF explains, “We are trying everything to catch people who may be on the road to depression. NGF has developed partnerships with depression advocacy groups like the Department of Health, UGAT Foundation, In Touch Community Services, Dial a Friend, San Antonio Parish Health Ministry, among others to bring to fruition our mission of reaching out to the general public, the young, especially students at all levels, OFWs in Hong Kong and the families they leave behind and letting them know as much as possible about depression.”
With its “Be Happy!” program the foundation hopes to further reach people so that they can be proactive in bringing happiness to themselves and to others by one very easy means so that depression cannot progress. Having a “happy hour” is essential to keeping each person balanced and healthy in body, mind and spirit.
In my personal experience, I’ve found that regular physical activity is a great way to get one to a happy place. Your body was made to move; sitting for long hours and mulling about what went wrong or what’s not happening will make things fester even more if you just keep focusing on it. Get up and go out, join a gym, a yoga class, learn to run, bike, dance: the options are endless. Already active but sometimes feel, once all the movement stops, that you go back to ruminating on regret? Learn how to meditate, quiet the mind, buy a candle or room scent that ignites happy memories or just add some sweetness to your living or workspace. Want to amp this effort up? Then give something. As stated in the 29 Gifts website it doesn’t have to something material; it can be something as simple as giving your time to someone, a kind word or a (sincere) compliment to a family member, a friend, or a work colleague. It’s time to be kinder to others and especially, kinder to ourselves. Make your own happy hour, share your story and inspire others.