A happy place. We all need one. A place where we can hide out when life is overwhelming. A safe, neutral setting to visit so our minds can reboot.
Tomorrow we travel to Orlando for our Disney World vacation. Disney World is arguably the happiest place on earth. And not just for eight-year-olds who love princesses. No, Disney World appeals to all age groups—I love it more each time I go.
Magic and Pixie Dust
Why is Disney World the happiest place on earth? It is simple. While you visit Disney World, there is a suspension of disbelief. While you are sheltered in the safe cocoon Walt Disney created, you believe nothing bad can happen. You believe in magic and pixie dust.
In day-to-day life, we all need a place that feels like Disney World. We need a place where we don’t have to think. We need a place where we don’t have to over-analyze and micromanage every aspect of our lives.
Finding Your Happy Place
When you live with mental illness, the road can be long and debilitating. There are months and even years when your disease is wearing you down. Life exhausts you. The symptoms are unrelenting. You are not sure you can continue.
In those moments, you need to camp out in your happy place while you ride out the storm of symptoms. Finding your happy place isn’t a fix-all, but it provides a way to prioritize your time, and it provides a place to decompress and unload stressors that heighten the symptoms of mental illness.
Obviously, we can’t all move to Orlando and live in Disney World. That would be ideal, but it’s not very practical.
It is a good thing I have three happy places I can run to when life gets to be too much:
If you have read my “About” page, you know music is my happy place. The bands I love provide the words to describe the difficult emotions I can’t articulate.
Danny Gokey reminds me to: “Get back up and take step one.”
Tenth Avenue North commiserates with me when they sing: “My heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing.”
For me, concerts are therapy. For those two-and-a-half hours, my mind is clear because I am focused on something besides the nonsense going on in my head. I am able to focus on Queen, the Eagles, or Paul McCartney—just to name a few—and sing my troubles away.
I don’t have to attend a concert to receive the therapeutic benefits of music. I can jump in my car, turn on my favorite song, and sing at the top of my lungs. It works every time.
There is nothing better than losing yourself in a great book. A well-written book pulls the reader out of his or her own mind and into the world the author has created.
I spent those three years hiding out in the beautiful world that Stephenie Meyer created. The Twilight Saga was my safe haven. It was the first time I read a whole series of books and reread them again, right back from the beginning. And then I listened to the audiobooks because I refused to leave a world where vampires sparkled and boys turned into wolves.
It may not have been award-winning literature, but it was a place that I could count on when nothing else made sense. It carried me through to the next season of life.
3. Binge-Worthy Television
I am a medical drama junkie. Last year, I watched all 15 seasons of ER. Then one of the moms at the bus stop suggested I try Grey’s Anatomy. I balked at first.
After the first five episodes, I was hooked. I wanted to marry McDreamy, find my person, and dance it out.
This fall, I felt very alone. My head was tangled up in events I couldn’t process and couldn’t control. When I watched Grey’s Anatomy, I wasn’t alone. And I could count on my favorite characters to be consistent while my world was spinning out of control.
For 42 minutes, I could shut off my brain and not focus on the things I couldn’t change. That was a gift. Someone will have to drag me out of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital kicking and screaming.
Find Your Bliss
My happy places may sound silly to you, but that’s okay. Each person is unique, and no two people are alike. What I find appealing may leave you cold.
The things that bring you joy may be therapy, journaling, exercise, playing an instrument, painting or prayer and meditation. Your happy place may be in your closet where you hide to eat chocolate and drink Diet Coke.
What is important is that you find a place that is an oasis. You don’t need three happy places, but everyone needs at least one spot they can run to when they need a break from reality.
We live in a world where people put off happiness. We will be happy later—when our kids grow up, when we find the right man or the right job. And then life happens. And you reach the end of your life without ever knowing what your bliss is.
Find what makes your heart sing and go there. Now.
Do you have a happy place you retreat to when the world is too much? Tell me about your happy place in the comments.