If you’re looking for ways to feel happier and overcome feelings of loneliness and sadness, one of the first places you should look is inside your own mind! When it comes to happiness, very often our thoughts and self talk make us or break us. Read on for a delightfully colorful man who has this thing figured out.
There’s a particular stretch of town that I travel a couple of times a week. It’s a nice quiet drive, a huge change from taking the bypass which is anything but quiet. Personally? I’m a fan of quietness. This road runs through an amazingly interesting part of our town with some pretty colorful characters. One man, in particular, always catches my eye. On the rare occasions that I don’t see him, I’m half tempted to pull over to the side of the road and wait for him – he always makes me smile. I call him the “Happy Walking Man” and I’ll never forget the first time I saw him.
I nearly rear-ended the car in front of me.
He’s probably in his early sixties. He has dreads but a very, very receding hairline (to the tune of being bald on top). The thing that’s so remarkable about this man is his happiness. He wears it head to toe. The first time I saw him, he was doing some sort of a happy walk and talking to himself. You could see his joy from a mile away. Somehow my inquisitive nature wanted to take a second look to see if my buddy was singing or talking and I determined that he was definitely talking… the determination came just in time – right before the front of my vehicle met the back of the one in front of me.
Each time I’ve seen him since, he’s wearing the same smile. Sometimes he talks, sometimes he just walks.
I was telling one of my daughters about him recently and a couple of things I’d been thinking about kind of gelled together.
First of all, before you say anything, I know that the odds of my guy having both oars in the water are slim. It’s entirely possible that Happy Walking Man is blissfully unaware that he ever owned an oar. That’s all completely irrelevant because he’s the hero of this post – and heroes don’t have to play by anyone else’s rules.
I’ve always been a HUGE champion of positive thinking and believe with all my heart that our own thoughts and self-talk shape and define our world. I also firmly believe that many people who claim to be…..
… simply need a new script to follow when they’re talking to themselves.
Take for example the mother of a houseful of young children. She’s with them day in, day out for over 20 years. The house and mini-van are completely filled with noise, singing, giggling, arguing, and excited chatter about everything from Sesame Street to Justin Timberlake. Father Time has no regard for her or anyone, so he marches along (possibly with the gait of Happy Walking Man). The kids grow up, go to school, get married, and do all sorts of things that don’t involve giggling or trips to McDonald’s.
“Mommy” wakes up one day and is “Mom.” The once rowdy house is completely still – more still than she ever thought anything could possibly be and trips to the grocery store are suddenly as quiet as a librarian on her lunch break. Early in the transition, it would be easy (so easy) for her to tell herself that she’s lonely and that things are too quiet. It’d be natural (so natural) for her to curse Father Time and demand that he return her “babies” to her.
You may have guessed that I’m the “mom” in the illustration and I refused to take the easy and natural route. I mean, can you say MISERABLE??! I remember the first 9 or 10 trips alone to the store. I’ll confess that tears came a few times. Then I decided that I was simply telling myself the wrong things. I’d find myself thinking, “It’s too quiet!” or “I’m lonely!” – Then I thought, “Well, no wonder you’re sad – you’re setting the stage perfectly for that!”
I started using the time alone for meditating, planning out articles I wanted to write, quizzing myself on things like state capitals and famous quotes and listening to my Patsy Cline CD (something a couple of my girls would have disowned me for!). I replaced, “It’s so quiet!” with “This is so relaxing.”
When I walk through the house during the afternoon and the only sounds are birds chirping in the yard, I don’t bemoan, “The only sound around me is birds,” I smile and say, “The only sound I hear is birds.”
I think this is the place where so many of us mess up – whether we’re mothers or fathers or not. We all get far too comfortable with thinking the same thoughts over and over again. They become a pattern, and if they’re the wrong kinds of thoughts and if they’re negative self talk, we’re penning our own doom.
One of my daughters was talking a few weeks ago about something she loves to read about: “Flipping.” The only flipping I know of is what gymnasts do, so I had to ask her what flipping she was talking about. She said that she was fascinated at the process of buying houses that needed work, fixing them up, and selling them for more money than you paid for them. I’m still not as impressed as the flipping done by gymnasts, but I have to admit, it does sound interesting.
When we “flip” our thoughts, we get much more out of it than money. If we can take thoughts that need makeovers and fix them up, we get a whole new life and new found happiness.
Spend a little time with your own thoughts. Periodically ask yourself, “What am I thinking right now?” You may be surprised! You may find yourself in the middle of a thought like, “I’m so lonely…” and catch yourself. You might just argue with yourself.. “No, I”m not lonely! My cat is right beside me and my husband will be home in two hours. I’m not lonely, I”m relaxed!”
Sometimes we get into a recurring pattern of thinking the same thoughts. Some people, after going through a particularly tough couple of months (or even years) will find themselves thinking, “I am just so down..” But if they were to cross-examine their statement, they’d find that they aren’t so down after all. They simply grew accustomed to saying so!
Our self talk and our thoughts either build us up or they tear us down. They CONSTRUCT or they DESTRUCT.
Take your self talk and hold it accountable. Flip it so far you don’t even recognize it!
- If your self talk is sad, cheer it up.
- If your self talk is defeated, build it up.
- If your self talk is on repeat, mix it up.
- If your self talk makes you cry, shut it up!
If you can, picture the hero of our article strolling along the street. His smile is bright enough to light up three counties. What do you think he’s saying to himself? It’s darn sure not, “I’m lonely” and he’s not singing the blues. He’s enjoying the heck out of life. He may not know where the day is taking him, but he’s already packed his smile. Well played, Happy Walking man, well played.
Make each moment count double and make each thought count for something.