I was sitting on the subway feeling the dull, latent buzz of MTA commuter frustration, when a woman with a puppet entered the train. Her fuzzy companion closely resembled a puppet from Sesame Street.
I think it was a fairy.
"Hello, Everyone!" she said excitedly. "I like to celebrate holidays that people don't really know about. For example, did you know today is Feel Good Day?"
The ten-year-old girl across the aisle smiled, watching in anticipation. After seeing a lot of crazy sh*t in New York City subways, I was apprehensive this woman's routine might take a weird turn. But I was caught so off guard by her buzzing eccentricity, I couldn't help but smile.
"My friend here is going to lead us in a game," the woman said, lifting up her puppet. She brought her doll to life, animating it with an impressive, scratchy, high pitched voice. Did this woman work for PBS?
"Alright ladies and gentlemen," said the fairy puppet. "I want to teach you a fun sound. It goes like this: 'woooOOO!' Let's all do it together on the count of three! One, two, three!"
The ten-year-old girl joined the woman in her cheer, along with a few other adults on the train.
As the woman thanked her audience and wished us all a good day, the subway doors opened at the next train stop. She left without asking for anything.
It was amazing how such a simple thing — making a silly sound along with a puppet — could shake off the weight of my frustration so easily. I was on the same train as before, heading to the same place, but my entire outlook felt lighter. I felt good.
* * *
So often we tell ourselves that there's a lot we have to do before we can feel good. But is there really anything more important?
How we feel changes our perception, which in turn, changes our reality. When we start the day feeling good, our minds naturally start to look for the good in the world: The beautiful street art you may have overlooked otherwise; the humor in the finch who stole someone's french fry; the happiness that comes with exchanging smiles with a stranger.
If we prioritize feeling good, the world suddenly becomes a wonderful place abundant with potential and opportunities for happiness.
Not only that, but having a positive, happy mindset makes us more present parents and partners. It increases our focus and productivity. It clarifies our most vital wants, therefore prioritizing our goals.
Here are some tips to help you feel good (think of them like tools to keep in your toolbox):
Gratitude is the antidote to pessimism:
Did you know gratitude has been proven to help us feel more positive emotions, improve our health, and build stronger relationships?
When I'm in the kind of mood where everything feels awful, the only way I can dig myself out is by listing things I'm grateful for. I name the first things that come to my mind — the food in my belly, the roof over my head — until they start to stick, and my gratitude becomes heartfelt, and suddenly, my world shifts.
Energy flows where attention goes:
Honest confession: I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What that means is that if I'm not being mindful of what I'm focusing on, Fear will take the driver's seat and take my mind to the most terrifying, disturbing, and negative places my brain can muster.
But eventually, I realized, I get to choose where my attention goes! I realized my brain is like a computer; it generates random thoughts and images without my input. That's what it's designed to do. I try to remember not to blame myself when I find myself in a bad headspace, and then I immediately start focusing on something positive that gets me feeling excited!
When I'm feeling unconfident, I start listing all the qualities I like about myself for as long as it takes for me to start believing them. If I'm feeling insecure, I list all the ways my partner shows me he loves and adores me.
Actively pour your attention into positive places, and watch how your energy starts shifting to happier vibrations.
Your morning routine is essential:
My mornings used to look like this:
Hit snooze half a dozen times, scroll through Instagram until the last possible second, rush to get out of the door.
Social media for breakfast made me sink deeper into negativity, filled my head with toxic comparisons, and lowered both my self-esteem and motivation before I even got out of bed.
Eventually, I realized that I had to catapult myself into a good mood first thing in the morning, or else the rest of the day would be a wash.
Now when I open my eyes, before I even get out of bed, I set the intention to feel good. I turn off my alarm on my iPhone, but then immediately set the phone back down again without checking it.
I pull out my journal and spend fifteen minutes listing things I'm grateful for, writing affirmations, and goals I want to accomplish within the day.
Next, I put on my "High Vibin'" playlist, a collection of songs that when listened to, it's hard for me not to be in a great mood, and I find myself dancing my way through getting ready for the day.
The trick is to find whatever makes you feel good, and do it every single morning.
Feeling good helps us live in a world of possibility. After all, no one starts a business living in fear and no one loses 100 pounds drowning in self-doubt.
Feeling good should never live at the finish line of your busy, chaotic day. By prioritizing a good mood, you can increase happiness, improve relationships, and enhance productivity. But more importantly, the happiness humans inherently desire is no longer conditional on achieving or attaining something external to ourselves. In learning how to feel good, we realize our ability to create our own happiness, and therefore, it cannot be taken away.