One Sunday morning, the day after Halloween, I walked into church behind a three-year-old girl in an angel costume. Her mother was just pinning a sign on her back that said, “This was not my idea.” The little angel twirled in a perfect pirouette as she walked down the aisle. She was obviously enjoying the moment. Her mother trailed behind her, hiding her embarrassment under a fashionable broad-brimmed hat. I put my arm around the mother and said, “Your charming daughter has lightened everyone’s day. Thanks for bringing your angel to church.”
She laughed and rolled her eyes.
I smiled and added this memory to my lighten-up list.
What’s a lighten-up list? When I find myself reacting to the day with an intensity that makes life difficult and no fun at all, I:
Say ‘stop’ in my head.
Take a deep breath.
Assess my world at the moment.
Take a timeout if necessary.
Substitute a thought or activity from my lighten-up list. This lighten-up list includes:
My favorite music
A wonderful memory like a great vacation
A trip to the beach—smell the salty air, feel the sand between your toes
A hike in the woods—listen to the birds, smell the pines
A funny incident, like the little angel
You get the idea. Tailor the list to fit your needs and your interests. Enjoy the process of creating!