Countdown to USDC – 15 Days: Just Hold That Happy Thought!

Fun fact about the Girl with the Tree Tattoo: I love Peter Pan. I have loved the story of the boy who could fly ever since I was a kid. The first appeal was the ability to fly, of course. And the fact that this ability was within the grasp of the “normal” Darling children. All they had to do was think happy thoughts! And get a little fairy dust sprinkled on them, but I like to focus on the happy thoughts part of the formula. Just think how awesomely it can translate to real life – with positive thinking and a leap of faith, you can lift yourself up out of your every day existence into something magical! You can reach for your dreams!

Ok, that’s about as cheesy as I’m going to get. But I bring this up because the opposite holds true as well. Negative thinking will bring you back down. I live on a cycle of positive and negative. I’ve written before about dealing with post-comp blues. It can be difficult to understand for someone who has never experienced it, but it’s a very real thing. I can get sad after happy, fun, or exciting events.

There is a scene in the movie Hook, with Robin Williams playing Peter Pan grown up, where Tinkerbell, played by Julia Roberts, is showing Peter the remains of the house he and the lost boys built for Wendy back when he was a boy. That scene is where Peter finds his happy thought and his ability to fly again. He’s hovering high up in the air laughing at this discovery when suddenly he loses the happy thought and starts plummeting back down to the ground. Tinkerbell shouts “just hold that happy thought, Peter!” With his eyes squeezed shut, he manages to stop his descent right before he hits the ground, and then with a smile of confidence, Peter takes off to soar all over Neverland.

I am on the edge of that descent with my eyes squeezed tight, trying to hold onto my happy thoughts. I had a great lesson on Monday, but that was partly because I worked very hard to not give any stage time to my demons who are still fretting over my silver routines. For someone whose neutral mood is below the average person’s neutral, if you were to consider mood on a vertical scale from happy on the top to sad on the bottom, staying on the happy half of the spectrum is hard work!  But I focused on the progress I made, not the work still to be done. And I allowed myself to feel good about the bronze waltz run-through that we danced at the end of the lesson, which Teacher said was one of my best ever!

It sounds obvious, but it’s so much easier said than done, especially when internal criticism and doubt are the norm.

I have been able to develop strategies that help with all of the mental hard work. Having goals like USDC is an important strategy because it provides a focus, which prevents the demons from running wild and unchecked in my head. This strategy can backfire though when care about the goal turns into anxiety about the goal. That’s when surrounding myself with positive and supportive people is another great strategy because they allow me to feed off of their positive energy when my own is running out. Just having an activity like ballroom dancing that engages my mind and body in a healthy way, provides social interaction, and is just plain enjoyable is hugely helpful for my state of being overall.

Two weeks to go and I’m actually feeling excited instead of anxiety-ridden! But staying that way is a conscious effort, so I’m picturing Tinkerbell encouraging me to “just hold that happy thought!”

I’ll never be one of those people who are happy-go-lucky all of the time. But that’s ok. I cherish the happy times even more. I share this because I know there are others who struggle to stay in the upper half of the mood scale, or even at neutral. You’re not alone.

I’m getting tired from all of the mental work to focus on the productive and the positive. But even as my eyes get heavy, I can still smile a little because I can feel that the demons are getting tired too. Maybe we can all relax together by the hotel pool in two weeks time!

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