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automatic joy : can happiness improve the microbiome - and your health?

Years ago, i made lists of things that instantly brought me joy. I called those lists "Automatic Joy," after a line from the song, Coin Operated Boy, by The Dresden Dolls. This morning something reminded me of those lists and i realized they were far more important than i ever knew and it's time to resurrect them.

We have choices to make every day. We can choose to put all our attention and focus on the negative aspects of our lives, whether it be illness, financial stress, the state of the world in general - wars, strife, discord, violence - and let those negative feelings impact our health for the worst, or we can choose to focus on the positive aspects of our lives - the good we do have, the good that people do, our favorite things, our favorite people - and let those positive aspects bring feelings of peace and happiness, which has a positive impact on our microbiomes.

I know it isn't always easy (or sometimes even possible) to put aside what's troubling us. If we're in the midst of danger, of course we must first get to a safe space and find stability. Situations can get in the way. When my microbiome was broken and i was very sick, it was difficult to focus on anything positive, but when i could, it really did help. For those of us living in relative safety and comfort, there is often a choice. On the days i succeed at focusing on the positive, i really do feel healthier, calmer and happier.

This morning as i sat down to assess all the items on my To Do list, i started to feel stress and overwhelm creep in. There are several tasks on my list that i just don't enjoy and don't want to do. On the other hand, i get to go outside and check on my backyard garden today, and maybe plant a few seeds. That brings me so much satisfaction! As for the tasks i'm not so much looking forward to, i'll think of ways to make them more enjoyable, like listening to my favorite playlist (which includes a lot of The Shins) and sing loudly while doing them! I'll make my favorite cup of tea to sip on as well. And if it's a reeeeally unpleasant task, maybe i'll allow myself a special treat (like these amazing gluten-free muffins) or promise myself an Epsom salt bath after i finish.

When was the last time you took a minute to really appreciate something or someone in your life that brings you joy? Will you make a list with me? Here's mine:

Automatic Joy:

A text from my son 2500 miles away at college

A text from my daughter with a photo of my grandson

A hug from my one remaining kiddo at home

Back scratches from my hubby

A nuzzle from my rabbit

Our Chihuahua being my little spoon

Looking at our garden

Swinging on my late brother's hammock chair

My morning smoothie

A glass of jun kombucha

Listening to my favorite songs

Looking at family photo albums

I hope you can find joy in this day!



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