Image Credit: Beth S., Marblehead, MA
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…
We all have grown up singing Maria’s iconic, feel-good, song, “My Favorite Things.” In the scene in which this song appears, the scared Von Trapp children seek shelter in Maria’s room during a storm. Realizing that their fears are constantly renewed each time the thunder and lightning strike, Maria decides to focus the children’s attention on the small, simple things in life that make them happy. After singing about these cheerful things, the children and Maria don’t “feel so bad.”
And Maria has got it all figured out.
After reflecting for a long time on myself and how I handle different situations, I found that I have a very anxious personality, which causes me a lot of unwarranted stress in many areas of my life. While a little stress is okay and completely normal, a lot of stress can be overwhelming and hindering. Ever since I was young, I’ve been told that stress a key motivator in getting things done, but that idea does not apply to everyone, and it certainly does not apply to me.
Stress clouds the way I see my life. It causes me to take less risks, to rush through my work, and simply live life from one thing on my task list to the next. After some inner reflection, I know that I will be living with a lot of regret in the future if I look up one day and feel that, though I’ve been alive, I haven’t been really living.
This conclusion was the first step towards a mentally healthy way of working through stress and anxiety and enjoying life. But it is impossible to one day just decide not to get overly stressed about things. Not a Sunday goes by where I don’t get anxious about the coming school day, and not a school day passes where I am not obsessively planning out and trying desperately to get ahead in my work, many times causing me to have a complete mental breakdown. It happens to all of us.
Back to Maria.
The song, “My Favorite Things,” came on shuffle one day on my way to school. It made me start thinking about some of the little things, big things, exciting things, and happy things that I enjoyed in my own life.
So I started making some mental lists…
50 of My Favorite Things:
The Smell of Fall
Hot Chocolate at my Grandma’s House
The Music I Fall Asleep To
Kisses on the Cheek
Christmas (let’s be real, we’ve all got this one)
My Playlist of my Favorite Songs
Friday Night Games
Gas Station Runs
Giving Creative Presents
Dances that give me Chills
Singing in the Car
Harry Potter and The Hunger Games
Going to the Theater during a Storm
Coaching the Middle School Cheerleaders
Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Balloons (especially red and yellow)
Traveling to Competitions
Good Hair Days
Looking Through Old Pictures
Sweet Little Notes
My Mini Christmas Tree
Dreaming about my Wedding Day
Running Errands with my Mom
Pretty Book Covers
The Smell of Barnes and Noble
My Grandma’s House
Cool, Sunny Days
Being in Love
After writing down those 50 things, I took a break from writing to eat dinner and clean my room. I started noticing that more and more of my “favorite things” continued popping into my head. The same thing happens to me every time I do this exercise when I am feeling anxious or stressed. When I focus my mind on the things in life that I am excited for or that make me happy, the stress and anxiety that clouded my head before, diminishes, and my outlook on life naturally becomes more positive and upbeat.
Here is your challenge:
When you start to feel overwhelmed by everything negative in your life, start by thinking of the things you are excited about. Christmas is always my starting place (I may or may not listen to Christmas music in the middle of summer). That is a long-term excitement. Next I think about something I’m excited for this month. For me, it is the NC State cheer clinic next week. Then, something this week; the football game on tomorrow, and then something for today; taking a hot shower. After I get the excitement rolling, I start getting excited that I have a lot more Christmases in my future and I get to take a hot shower every night. Life is good!
Some people also find that reflecting on the positives of the day help them have a positive outlook on the days to come. My lunch was good, I had a good hair day, and I got to eat pasta for dinner, are a few of mine from today.
Next, make a list, either mentally or on paper, of a few of your favorite things, like I did up above. Keeping a written list of these things and carrying it with you throughout the day can serve as a reminder that your life is exciting and enjoyable.
Another thing I like to do is carry a few small things that mean something to you. When you look at them, they should remind you of all the good memories you have and all the new memories you are going to make. It can be pictures of your baby cousin, a note your mom put in your lunchbox on the first day of school, a rock from when you hiked Crowders mountain, a phone wallpaper of your happy place, or even a box of tic tacs. Whatever you choose to carry, that visual reminder will help you see life for all the good times, rather than those of stress and anxiety.
Here is your positivity tool set:
Find things you are excited about (long-term and short-term)
Reflect on the positives from each day
Make a list of a few of your favorite things
Carry with you visual reminders of happy memories
Changing a stress-ridden mindset is a tough skill to develop. I having been working on this skill for years and I still don’t have it totally mastered. It takes a lot of hard work to push that negativity out of your mind, but after making these exercises above habit, having a positive outlook on life will become your head’s natural default.
So when the dog bites, when the bee stings, or when you’re feeling sad, simply remember your favorite things, and then you won’t feeeeeeeel sooooo baaaaaaad! :)
My Favorite Things
This is just some random exercise I thought up. It’s basically just listing my favorite things and how I describe them. It was fun to do, so I hope that some people might try it too!!
I love the way tree leaves look when the morning light hits them just right, highlighting them a bright green-gold.
I love the way spider webs look when morning dew leaves light droplets on their well-spun silk thread, and the way sun behind the web makes it shine like thin sliver.
I love it when I’m at the beach, and how sand crunches between my toes.
I love it when horses run when it’s cool outside, just as the sun begins to go down.
I love the way the ocean’s breezes blow saltwater up my nose, to where I can almost taste it.
I love the way tree bark feels on my feet, that rough, foot-toughening massage.
I love it and hate it when books end. I love it when the people are so real, that you cry when the book ends—whether with joy or sadness because you won’t hear more. But I love it when you go back and feel it all once more, until the words become a part of you.
I love the way deer run, with their gentle, silent dance.
I love the way horse breath smells. So sweet, reminding you of vast wheat fields stretching over endless miles of land.
I love the way it feels to listen to a good song. It makes you dance, cry, laugh, and sing too. I love the way it feels to not only hear it, but to feel it, to know it.
I love the way it feels to fall for a book character. Well, most people say that they’re book characters, but I know better
I love the way computer keys sound. I love the sort of music they make. Tap-swish-tap-tap-swish.
I love the way it feels to go underwater, to feel the depth, to pretend to be a dolphin swimming out in the ocean.
I love food. I love the way it turns to water or mush in your mouth, and the way you savor the taste on your tongue, and the way it feels to swallow and take the next bite.
I love running around barefoot with my Labrador Retriever until we’re both panting for breath, and then collapsing to the ground and letting my dog lay across my stomach in the dirt.
I love dolphins’ song. It truly is magical, their conversations with one another and their clever click-clack-eee-click-click.
I love swimming on horseback. I love the floating sensation as the horse moves under you, and I love the gentle current of water that presses against my legs and bare feet.
I love the way the trees sound when they blow in the wind. That lovely whoosshhh sound always makes me smile.
I love the way it feels to dance. It makes one feel free, accomplished.
I love the moon. I love its pearly white effect on everything below it, making eerie light in even the darkest of places.
I love it when the slightest bit of light peeks his way through into a dark, dusty room, and the way the dust suddenly becomes clear and dances around like fairy dust.
I love the feeling of ocean waves, crashing against my bare skin.
I love the feeling of prickly seaweed.
I love the feeling of dolphin skin.
I love the feeling of horse hide and the smell of their bodies. I love their expressionate eyes that show the feeling of their every emotion.
I love the way birds collect in treetops, and the wild music they make.
I love the rain. I love to stand in it, taste it, feel it. I love the way I think more clearly in this mass of pouring droplets, and I love the way the street looks either like a misted cloud with houses or a whitish-silver fabric spreading across the way.
I love it when I read aloud and can taste the words on my tongue, savor them, understand and feel them.
I love it when I can hear, see and feel the characters in books. I love to feel the action, joy, tension, fear, intensity, ferocity, anger, anxiety. I love it all.
I love the sound of thunder. It’s frightening, ferocious even, but it sounds like warrior drums, saying that a battle is to come.
I love the comfort of a warm embrace when I’m scared or sad.
I love waterfalls that collapse onto clear running water, making a magical roar emerge.
I love words. I love to taste them, for my eyes to feast upon bizarre spellings and magical descriptions.
I love fantasy. I love fair maidens fighting the mightiest dragons, and I love fairies trying to steal human hair for their nests. I love how Dustfinger of Inkheart (Inkspell, Inkdeath) loves his fire and how it kisses him rather than burns.
I love the light trickling sound of streams, that gentle whoo-do-do-do-hoo sound.
I love to write. I love to express what I feel, or what my characters are feeling. I love to create my world and my own languages, and I love to feel and describe.
That is the end!! Please write your own and post it (or put it on your comment). It really was fun!!!