As you may have read here (and here and here), we’re celebrating Happy Times for Fall 2018. But we’re not just going to boost your mood, sartorially speaking, we’re going to make sure you are prepped to battle the blues internally, too. For pro tips, we turned to the book The Happiness Hack. In this excerpt, author Ellen Leanse talks about how to shake off the feeling of being stuck in five steps. “Sometimes the only way to clear a roadblock is to walk around it,” she writes. “Don’t panic. You have choices.”
1. Shift Gears
If you’re working on a computer, get out your pen and paper. Maybe walk around talking about the problem. Record that, and listen back. This will help you organize and map the information in different ways.
2. Talk Nice
To yourself, that is. Avoid self-criticism. Our subconscious mind has a way of pointing the problem back at us when we hit a skid. If you try to change a habit or do everything you can to focus and it still doesn’t work, give yourself a break. Reflect on why you’re stuck and what skills you can call on to move forward. What can you do? Encourage yourself as you would a treasured friend.
Get up. Stretch. Get a glass of water or something nourishing to eat. Meditate, even for 10 minutes. Remember, your brain and your body are part of one caring system. Caring for one creates good for the other.
4. Optimize for Aha
“Aha moments” happen by surprise, as the name suggests, when two or more previously unconnected ideas find each other through a new connection and, whoosh, a new brain pathway is formed. You can almost feel it — but you can’t force it.
To increase the likeliness of an aha moment, shift gears. Seek sensory input that’s different from what you’ve been trying. There’s a reason so many people get their best ideas in the shower…. You have to collect the right dots before you can connect them. Go find yourself a few more dots.
5. Take a Break
Whatever you do — running a load of laundry, reading or going for a leg-pumping bike ride — do it attentively. Absorb yourself in it. Watch the details. Focus on how you’re doing what you’re doing.
Often, we do the opposite. We take the stress of a roadblock with us and go through the motions of doing something else. Yet awakening your senses by creating a completely different experience refreshes the brain. It may replenish the idea supply in the very brain areas you need to get around that block.