Things I’d Rather Meditate About

If you’ve ever done a guided meditation, you’ve probably noticed that the meditation leaders (is that what they’re called? Do those people have an official title?) encourage the listeners to focus their minds on positive, calming things. Typically, you’re supposed to repeat affirmations in your head, or think about the places where you feel safe and happy.  Oftentimes, they ask you to reflect on what you’re grateful for in your life.

That’s all well and good. It’s good to be grateful. It’s good to focus on the things that are going well in my life. It’s good to have a positive attitude.

It’s good.

It’s also a bit of a snooze fest.

During a typical day, we use up 92.7% of our brain power* thinking about plenty of stuff that we don’t really want to think about – bills, paperwork, rogue political candidates, etc. So, if we’re going to use the remaining 7.3% of our mental energy* on meditating, on just sitting still and focusing our minds on something, then that something should be really good, right? Things that make us glad to be alive. Stuff that brings us genuine comfort, or puts a smile on our faces.

*made up statistics

These are the kinds of things I’d rather meditate about:

  1. The smell, sight, and taste of chocolate. Candy bars. Cookies. Ice cream. Brownies. I feel calm already.
  1. The sensation of having my back scratched, or my hair washed.
  1. My own private island: Weather that’s warm enough for swimming, but isn’t too hot. Crystal-clear water. A chimpanzee with bartending skills. A hammock to lie in, but not the kind where your elbow or knee falls through the hole and you get stuck.
  1. What it’d feel like to sink into a bathtub filled with warm mashed potatoes. You heard me.
  1. Sam and Dean Winchester.
  1. The inner peace that washes over me when I walk into a used book store and find that they have a large clearance section.
  1. The delightful, if foolish, idea of Tina Fey discovering my blog, becoming a huge fan of my weird posts, and offering me a job.
  1. The feeling of slipping under a thick, warm comforter on a cold winter night.
  1. The utter joy of being locked in a room with 19 baby corgis.

meditate2

I asked the people I know to try meditating about the things that bring them joy in their lives, be they attractive celebrities, the sound of children’s laughter, or the smell of sharpies. No judgment here. Then, I asked the “meditators” to share with me their personal results from this challenge.

These are actual testimonies from the meditation participants:

“Five minutes of meditating about kittens cured my adult acne forever!” – best friend

“I no longer have kidney disease!” – relative

“My spouse stopped cheating on me, and we’re no longer getting a divorce!” – boss

Do you meditate when you need to de-stress or improve your mood? If you were to liven up your meditations, what sorts of things would you think about? Even if you don’t meditate, what kinds of things would you reflect on if you did?

When a Grump Talks about Happiness

Nikki over at A Kinder Way has invited me to participate in The Happiness Tag, a challenge to list things and songs that make me feel light and lovely. She actually tagged me a few days ago, but this somehow went unnoticed by me, so I only learned of it today.

It’s a little funny that I’m being challenged to do this activity today of all days, because I’m a bit of a Grumpy McGrump-Pants at this time. Some things are happening at work that are out of my control, and I guess my resolve is starting to wane. Normally, I’m able to complain about it to my coworkers (lucky them) and move on, but right now it’s bugging me a bit more than usual.

So when I saw the Happiness Tag, a part of me wanted to not participate. When you’re cranky, you don’t want to think about lovely, happy things.You want to cross your arms and make grouchy faces like a four-year-old. You want to knock things over for absolutely no reason, and stare down anyone who objects.

And then you want to set stuff on fire, because you’re a flippin grown-up, and that’s how grown-ups show their irritation.

grumpy-cat-titanic

Unfortunately, the annoying therapist who lives inside of me decided to make an unwelcome appearance, and encouraged me to participate as a way to (hopefully) get myself out of this charming mood. Real Me started to argue, but then Therapist Me reminded me that I say this stuff to clients, and that I’m a bit of a hypocrite if I don’t do it myself. So then Real Me was like “Whatevs! Get out of here, Annoying Inner Therapist!” And then Therapist Me was like —

You know what, I’ll stop there. Let’s just say that things got ugly.

Long story short, Therapist Me, with all her rational and positive thinking, won out. I grudgingly admit that it’s good for me to remind myself of things that make me feel calm and soothed and happy on a day when I feel none of those things.

So, with that, 5 things that make me happy:

  1. Games – board games, card games, made up games – I like them all! Well, most of them, anyway. Monopoly and Risk can go to hell.
  2. Books – I have a rather large collection that has filled up my bookshelf and is now overflowing onto the floor. The cranky four-year-old in me wants to build a cave out of them and live inside of it.
  3. Food – I have a blog that is 39% about cheese.* You should’ve seen this one coming.
  4. When my friends and family acknowledge my eccentricities in a loving way – when someone calls my car by her formal name (Ellie), when someone buys me earrings depicting my favorite beloved animal, or when someone asks me to recommend a good queso establishment – these are things that put a warm little ball of happiness in my heart. Is that a weird thing to say?
  5.  Stationery and journals with different colors and patterns and designs

* = made-up statistic

…and 5 songs that make me happy, or at least less grumpy:

  1. I Love It (Icona Pop) – The peppiness give me more energy on a happy day, and adds fuel to the fire (in a good way) when I’m angry. It’s like the most positive negative song you’ve ever heard. It’s magic.
  2. Where is The Love (Black-Eyed Peas)- I know the whole thing by heart and like to whip this out as a party trick
  3. Hold Back the River (James Bay) – just ’cause.
  4. Anything by Maroon 5 – I was in 8th grade when they came out, and I’ve loved them ever since. Any song by them puts a little smile on my face
  5. Better Together (Jack Johnson) – my best friend and I long ago proclaimed this to be “our song” and it works like a charm.

As it turns out, Therapist Me was irritatingly correct. Making myself think of these things really did make me feel a little better. Shh, don’t tell her. She’ll never let me live it down.

What sorts of things make you happy, or make you feel a little lighter on a down day? What people or items or places put a smile on your face? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to make your own post about it using The Happiness Tag. I think we could all use a little happiness floating around the blogosphere – and that’s coming from a Grouchy McGroucherson.