I used to be truly scared of the dark.
When I was little, I would cower in my bed, lights blazing, certain that some stuffed animal would come to life and bite me, or a creepy crawling something or other would slink out of my dark closet and ‘get me’. I’d work myself into a frenzy of fright and eventually run into my older brother’s room to sleep on his floor, much to his annoyance. My family’s patience was in very short supply during the “little Frances’ freak-out” phase.
Much to everyone’s relief, I eventually slept in my own room and bed, and I’m happy to report that I can still sleep through the night without giving my dark closet more than a quick glance.
But other types of darkness can momentarily freeze me in my tracks, making me feel powerless and fearful. Things like the recent heartbreaks in Connecticut and Oregon, illness, war, depression, death: the really Big Scary Dark Stuff.
Part of me would like to pull the covers over my head and take a nice long nap until the “All Clear” bell rings, or the wake-up fairy shows up with a plate of cookies.
But hiding from, or being paralyzed by dark news and events isn’t helping make the Universe very Yes and Yay-worthy.
At some point I need to flip the light switch on, shake off my fear and choose a different response.
And so I choose to flood the darkness with lightness and joy.
I choose Action and Yes.
I choose to Light It Up.
I choose to take small, shake-it-up steps that I know I can do right now to activate my more-joy (MOJO) muscles.
Here, then, are 5 of my favorite life-brightening strategies to invite more joy into your universe.
1. Notice the Small Lovely Light Stuff
Open your eyes and have a look around. Note and celebrate the little details all around you: what delights you right this very moment?
Is it the sparkly turquoise and lime teacup your drinking from? The goofy photograph of your friend? Your dog wriggling its whiskers and snoring on the floor? That morsel of chocolate you spy on the counter?
Write it down or speak it out loud and consider how all of these small miracles surrounding you add up to more light, and more joy.
2. Go outside!
Suck in some fresh air for a couple of minutes. Inhale luxuriously and consider how fabulous it is to be outside, just breathing for a few moments.
Feeling frisky? Wave your arms around and let out a lusty Woo-Hoo! and enthusiastic Yee Haw! Doesn’t that feel good? Have a hula-hoop? Give it a twirl.
And since you are outside, why not notice even more Small Lovely Light Stuff?!!
3. Practice saying YES. A lot.
Yes to having a cup of tea for 10 minutes between tasks or to-dos.
Yes to making a call to a dear friend to say hello.
Yes to jotting down all of the things you’re grateful for right now.
Tonight I’m happy the stars are out and the moon is shining. I’m thankful for the toasty fire that’s heating the living room. I’m thankful my two dogs who are, in fact, snoring as I write this post. And I’m happy that I had a really long chat with my friend Rebecca earlier tonight.
Try saying Yes to small pleasures and joys.
4. Shake the booty…
…or buttockular region as my friend David likes to call it.
Choose your “Take Me to a Happy Place Music” and dance, shimmy, shake a leg for a minute or three, or ten. Suck in some more air while you’re moving around and consider how good it is to be breathing and here on earth.
5. Write 4 little notes
Find your favorite marker or pen and a piece of paper. Tear the paper into four pieces.
Quick! Think of four people you can thank or praise right now for something they’ve done or just because you think they’re wonderful. Or
Quick! Think of four people you don’t know (yet) who will delight in receiving a secret message out of the blue from oh-so-top-secret you.
Write out 4 little messages on those slips of paper. Don’t think too hard!
Here are four little notes I wrote today:
Mail, hand deliver or hide your notes. Imagine the people who receive or find your notes. See them smiling, chuckling, surprised and happy to receive your little beam of light.
Ah-ha! More Delight Detectives on the loose!
Did you notice any voices in your head urging you to quit? “Oh these exercises are really stupid”, “They won’t do anything, I feel silly”. I call these voices my “Stay Stuck in Darkness Police Department”.
I highly recommend that you gently tune these voices out. Let their fear-inducing warnings fade to less strident background yapping.
Choosing a Light It Up “Yes” action, especially in dark times, shakes off fear-paralysis and allows us shine a little more love and light into the universe. And this, my friends, is the entire point.
Make the choice to greet darkness with light.
What ways do you choose to Light It Up?
I’d love to hear from you. Please join the conversation and add your light to our list.
Here’s to shining brightly on this first day of winter, here in at Yes and Yay HQ.