A few weeks ago we were camping in Northern Arizona. It was the happiest week ever – the weather was amazing, the climbing was super fun, we had lots of tasty snacks… I could name a hundred happy things.
And then – one morning, making coffee, I had a realisation.
THIS WAS ALL GOING TO BE OVER SOON. Soon we had to drive north. The bubble would be popped and we would have to shower on a regular basis, check emails, make plans again. And mostly importantly and sadly, it meant we would be separated again for an unknown amount of time, since I cannot work or even stay in Canada indefinitely.
But then we climbed, and it was great, and we talked about it – how do you live in the moment without worrying? How to embrace the unknown, especially when the unknown is a complete and utter mystery at the moment? How to be a content cheerful buddha even when you are afraid?
I am no expert on these matters, but here is what I’ve come up with.
How to be Happy Even When You Feel Like You Are Hanging Upside Down from a Shark Balloon:
- Say to a friend “help me! I feel like I am stuck upside down tied to a gigantic shark balloon!” And (if they are a good friend) they will give you a hug, and helpfully tell you that you are not in fact tied to a giant shark balloon, and not to panic. (Most important here though is the hug. )
- Talk about why you might be feeling like this. Sometimes just putting it out there makes it more manageable – instead of being an enormous shark with huge teeth, it might become more of a dolphin. And dolphins are much more smiley.
- Ask yourself if there is anything you can do about it RIGHT NOW. Will worrying help? Will crying help? If the answer is NO, then you should probably continue to embrace the moment you are actually in.
- Having said that, sometimes you do just need to have a little cry. That is ok too. Get it out.
- If you are worried about the future, ask the same question – is there anything you can do? (Ie, research, send emails, work on a project, train for a goal.) If yes, do it!! I am the absolute worst at this (this and crying when I feel helplessly overwhelmed) but it always always makes me feel better when I face my worries head on – and it might not solve them exactly but it puts me back in a better headspace and stops the giant shark balloon floating higher and higher.
- Breathe. Take a big deep slow soothing breath.
- Not that one should always be comparing themselves to others, but sometimes it is good to give yourself a little reality check. Are you healthy? Are you safe? Do you have enough to eat? – so many millions of people don’t even have that. Even just thinking vaguely along this line always makes me feel better, as well as guilty, and somewhat silly for feeling so worried. I am lucky, even if life is confusing. Sometimes it is good to really embrace that thought and say thankyou mr universe.
Other Useful Shark Balloon Reducing Tips:
- look at pictures of pandas
- and sea turtles
- watch pretty much any pixar movie ever
- get outside (if you aren’t already) and do something that makes you happy and creates endorphins
- eat some cheese! mmm.
We ambled down to the canyon the next morning, spirits much higher and a bounce in my steps once again. (The night before I had a good combination of hugs and cheese and talking.) And I thought, you know what – there are always going to be those sad moments. It is part of life, part of being humans. All I can do is beat it when it catches me, untangle myself from the shark balloon’s tangled string, and keep coming back to this place, this present. Yay.