There are times in life when the delicious feeling of happiness naturally flows through your veins: your boss thinks you kick-ass, your relationship has a touch of the Beckham’s smugness, you have a group of friends to drink large glasses of wine with, and your next holiday is booked – to somewhere more exotic than Skegness. There may be a few small day-to-day ups and downs, but overall life is good; it’s easy to feel happy.
But there are, inevitably, times when happiness is more elusive, when life throws something nasty your way – and however positive you are – it’s just harder to find your happiness groove. But fear not, I have found the answer!: the ‘dark and twisted’ strategy (I may have to give it a sexier name, when it goes viral).
As my health continues to misbehave at toddler tantrum levels (I don’t want to dwell too much here – it is already commanding way too much attention from me – but let’s just say, I have been out of the apartment for a total of four hours in the last three weeks), my happiness chip, is understandably, experiencing a malfunction.
But with my new ‘dark and twisted’ strategy, I have discovered a way to find my happy, or if not my happy, at least a way of holding onto my sanity: I am playing ‘it could be worse…’; reverse gratitude if you will.
By surrounding myself with dark stories (books, films, television, real life) my desperation is held at bay (well, almost…).
I am reminded, it could be worse: I could be in prison, scared to use the bathrooms, scared to make eye contact, scared to… well, just scared! Or, even worse, I could be a prison guard trapped in a prison, who has to pretend to be an inmate to survive (thank you Spanish film Celda 211).
Or, it could be worse, at least I am not an innocent man who was arrested (more kidnapped really) by the US government and flown to Morocco so I could be ‘legally’ tortured (thank you Rendition).
Or, it could be worse, I am not an alcoholic, drug addict, or homeless; nor did I kill someone whilst drunk (thank you Blackout).
Or (my favourite), it could be worse, at least I am not dead, stuffed into an old well, with rats chewing at my face, and concrete put on top of me (thank you Stephen King).
You get the idea. And actually once you get started, there is just so much dark and twisted out there to choose from (I’m excited just thinking about it!).
Right now, happy clappy, ‘seize the day’, ‘follow your dreams’ type mantras are too painful to hear: yes, I want to be doing those things, but I’m running a slightly more stream-lined operation at the moment: getting through the day. And by focusing on the harshness of life, I am quite simply, stopped from feeling sorry for myself.
It may seem an odd healing choice, but I am finding it a soothing addition to my meditation (Yin and Yang at work?). And by letting in the dark, I can somehow find some light, and find a way to appreciate the small things: our gorgeous apartment (which is pretty much finished now); the beautiful flowers my husband bought me, which bring a sense of life into my small world; our new ‘Zen’ terrace, overlooking the canal, with the swans gliding along in all their elegance; the chilled Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge.
And I am further comforted by knowing, that if things get really bad – and I need some more yin – I can always watch Jeremy Kyle, the darkest of them all…