Sometimes we need a little help to remember what we are grateful for, to find our happy place. The Happiness Toolbox is a tool I use for this. You Happiness Toolbox could be a list of memories or activities or things that make you happy. It could be a list of things that help you to relax and be calm. It could be phone numbers, for those people that you know will be there for you when you need them. It could be an actual box, a memory box, with precious things that you can pull out and touch and smell and remember …. and smile.
I created my Happiness Toolbox a long time ago when my father was sick.
I was young. I was 18 when Dad was given two months to live.
But Dad battled cancer for five years. It was horrific and cruel and hideous. He battled to be with us. And he gave us another five years. Five years to bring our family closer together. Enough to see us leave school and buy our first houses, travel overseas, and start our University studies. But most important of all, he gave my youngest brother a memory of him. He was nine when Dad finally passed away. Nine years old. Following his father’s coffin into the Church.
Life would never be the same. Ever.
But we had to cope. We had to keep going. And one of my tools was my Happiness Toolbox.
My Happiness Toolbox:
- Spending time with my family in the outdoors. It could be a picnic at the beach, or in the gardens. It could be Mt Biking. It could be exploring the National Parks of New Zealand, or America.
- Sitting on the deck on a sunny Sunday afternoon with my husband drinking a glass of wine. Particularly in summer when we can watch the girls playing in the pool.
- A long hot bath. A nice smelling candle. Bath salts.
- Walking. I love walking. I can get outside, have time to myself to think and to clear my head. In recent years I’ve also taken up running, which is another tool I can use when the stress is at advanced levels.
- Memory Boxes. I have a memory box for each of my children. A favorite outfit I dressed each of them in. Newborn photos. The first rose that Miss T and I stopped to smell.
- A good coffee (actually a plunger full of coffee). Sitting in “my chair” in the sun on a lazy day.
- Driving my car with the music up LOUD. Can you imagine driving home with Daft Punk blaring? It gives me a chance to clear my head before I walk in the door after work. I used this tool a lot when Dad was sick. I lived three hours away, so every time I got a phone call that he was taking a turn I got in the car. It was both my independence and my connection to home. And it was my place where I could cry. I spent many hours driving down the motorway with the stereo at full noise, balling my eyes out. It’s a bit happier these days. Unless of course i’m driving along and its a special day… and maybe a song comes on that triggers a memory.
- Hugs, and friends. My husband was there for me when Dad was sick. He and I were in our early days, but I still remember the hugs. And that he was always there for the phone calls – no matter what time of the night. And that I could take time out with him, to try to live the “normal” life of a 21 year old, to go out and spend time with friends. And he was there to take me home again when I broke down crying.
How do you create your Happiness Toolbox?
- Think about what you enjoy most. Is it getting outside? Is it having time to yourself to do a puzzle?
- Think about who matters most. Is it spending time with them? If you can’t spend time with them, is it a favorite memory? Can you write it down? Is there something that reminds you of this memory?
- Do you have a ritual that you cherish? For me its my lazy morning coffee in the sun.
- Is there a song that gets you moving? Or a movie that makes you laugh?
- Do you love sharing and discussing your favorite books?
- When do you feel at peace? What is it that fulfills your soul?
- Your Happiness Toolbox can change. My Toolbox has changed somewhat over the years (I didn’t even drink coffee until I had children that kept me up at night!). The Toolbox has grown with me. And grown when I find the things that “feed my soul”.
I’d love to hear what you have in your Happiness Toolbox!