“Tell me about school,” my grandmother said when I was a teenager visiting her home. She listened attentively, nodded, and responded, “Just be happy!” I often use this mantra when I’m playing the harp, injecting the music with good feelings.
But sometimes these simple instructions are hard to follow. Have you ever gone through a spell when the unexpected shakes you up, and it’s hard to get back on track?
I seem to be going through this right now: Impatient drivers giving me the finger, emails containing curt language, and friends and colleagues unhinged over miscommunications. Maybe it’s the work of mercury retrograde and a full moon, or the planets are misaligned in some way. Or perhaps I’m just having a run of crazy luck, and it’s sheer happenstance when stuff just comes out of nowhere to throw me off center.
For me, playing music involves the heart. Connecting with my emotions is the juice of music. It’s the engine that drives my fingers to move across the harp strings in a meaningful manner, to play with passion. When I feel derailed, playing feels like slogging through mud.
This isn’t a Debbie Downer article–I’m interested to know how you shake off occasional setbacks. And I’m not waxing religious here, either. Just an open discussion about keeping the positive emotions in performance and daily life, no matter what life deals out.
For me, reacting to shocking behavior by responding with reason often backfires and makes things worse, because the other party isn’t open to reason and sees it as an argument. And trying to let go by ignoring it just bottles up the emotions, and I feel like I’ll burst with my own inappropriate reactions.
I discovered that blowing off steam through physical activity helps. It boosts those happy endorphins and drains the stress associated with feeling defeated. I feel balanced when I work out consistently.
My regimen? I workout to DailyBurn.com, lifting weights with one program and adding cardio with another program. After all, I’ve got to avoid flabby harpist arms (yuck!).
Burning off calories with physical activity alleviates stress and helps me get a better night’s sleep. Plus, the host of the Daily Burn cardio program (“Daily Burn 365”) is JD Roberto, who delivers pep talks that prevent me from plummeting into mindless snacking and couch potato living.
I also practice martial arts. “What? Anne’s a harpist AND a martial artist?” I hear you exclaim. Yep, it’s crazy but true.
I’ve been at it for decades–Martial arts are a satisfying form of physical chess. The mind can’t wander in the dojo (martial arts gym). My mind embraces the concentration needed to execute proper body mechanics for self-defense.
All of these physical activities temporarily get my mind off of feeling crummy, but they aren’t the fix. Great for the body, but they can’t substitute for the spiritual fix, at least not for me.
How do I get to that “happy place”? How can I consistently follow my grandma’s advice and “just be happy”? Love is the answer. It doesn’t matter whether the offending behavior was aimed at me on purpose or unintentionally. Regardless, I send good wishes and kind blessings to the person involved.
I have no idea what this does for the other party. I haven’t personally received feedback. But I’ve often wondered. Does it change them in some way, as prayer is said to do? Does it place an impenetrable force field of protection around me? I just don’t know.
What I do know is that it has the power to make me feel better. It’s as if I flipped the switch to bring my heart back to equilibrium. As it turns out, the Buddha explains this brief video:
I often envision these good thoughts as white light that I’m sending along to surround those who dumped their downer junk on me. If the situation warrants it, I’ll apologize and wish them the best. Non-verbally, the positive feelings that I visualize as white light are on their way to greet them.
So, what do you do? How do you make lemonade when you feel that life throws you lemons? How do you keep your equilibrium and fix or prevent feeling bummed out or frustrated? I’m curious–What works for you to “just be happy”?
Please jump into this conversation! Add your suggestions and comments below. For harp music played with heart, visit my website, where you can even get a free download. You’ll find positive posts on my social media pages, and I look forward to connecting with you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.