Once upon a time a parched man was walking in the desert, lost. In the distance he saw a shack and a old hand pump. Water! He dragged himself there, tongue sticking to roof of his mouth. On the top of the pump was small jug of water and a note:
Pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it. If you do this you will get all the water you need”.
He had a choices -
Immediate gratification and certainty of a drink, or
Delayed gratification, and as much water as he needed.
Not trust the note - who knows who wrote it? Drink from the jug, or
Trust the note, prime the pump, and have all he needed.
He remembered to leave a jug of water for the next person too.
What would you do?
It's a quandary - do we give our last drop to receive abundance?
Finding joy can be a bit the same. It will require some effort to choose joy, but you will reap an abundant reward. In our busy lives, it's easy to not take breaks, not take holidays, not do special things. It will require effort to plan and organise. It might cost money, it will take energy, and you're already feeling tired. It's so much easier to sit on the couch on your phone, watch a movie in your tracky dacks and order take away. (By the way, we've stopped referring to our comfy old clothes as tracky dacks, and now call them our hygge wear! Check out this article on hygge here.)
When we decide to put in some effort and go on a holiday, we have a few tricks to make that holiday feeling last, and keep us primed for joy. We create cues or triggers, that bring back that happy holiday feeling, for us to experience again and again, on demand!
Engage your emotions and your senses, and use the cues you create, to bring that holiday feeling on demand.
1. Pick a theme song.
Music connects us to our emotions. We discovered this on our trip to Rome. The first song we heard in the taxi from the airport was Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop The Feeling." I heard it before we left Australia and immediately loved it, and it was a happy co-incidence to be the first song we heard.
In the taxi I hatched a plan to have a theme song, do some of the dance moves, and make a video of our travels and put it to the music. So we danced our way around Italy, Austria and Germany. It added another dimension of fun to our trip. We went out after dinner most nights looking for great places to dance and video ourselves. It didn't get dark until 10 pm, so we had long summer days to enjoy. We can't dance, but we didn't let that stop us from having fun and creating a memory to draw on in the future. We danced at the Colleseum, the Vatican, the Hungerburg Finicular and the Swarovski store in Innsbruck.
I never said we were any good at filming or dancing, but you can watch the full video here. (Keep in mind that will be 3 minutes of your life you can't get back.) Another advantage of making a video to a short song, is that you can have the pleasure of pouring over your photos and videos, and selecting your favourites, and condensing the story to 3 minutes. It also means you don't bore your friends and family.
2. Eat special food.
When we were away, we made sure we ate some of the food unique to the places we stayed. It was yummy of course, but the great thing is making and eating some of those foods when we get back home. So we're using taste and smell and texture or feel of the food, to excite our senses and trigger happy holiday feelings.
You've probably seen a lot of promotion for Oktoberfest around at the moment. This is the first year I've noticed it in the shops. You can buy German sausages, sauerkraut, pretzels, dinklebrot etc. We have fond memories of eating sausages in Germany, particularly Rottenburg, where we found a little shop that only sells sausages. You can see Paul enjoying some below. So, I've been to the shops and bought a variety of German food, and last Friday night as part of our Hygge, we had German dinner night and relived our happy sausage memories again.
3. Buy a unique fragrance.
In Innsbruk we explored the little allies jam packed with tiny boutique stores. Paul found a fragrance store which sold on 4 scents of their own brand, and of their own making. We chatted to the young man who owned the store. He explained his wife was a chemist, and together they had designed these unique fragrances, made from the unique water from within the mountains etc. So we chose one each. You can find out more here from their website. I wear mine only on weekends, not for work. Every time I use it, I can experience my holiday feelings again.
4. Put your photos up.
In this digital age, it's easy to not bother developing your pictures. You tell yourself you can look at them any time, but you probably don't. Develop some of your favourites and put them up where you can see them, even on the fridge with a magnet is great. Make a slide show for your screen save, or put up your favourite photo as your home screen, so you can frequently see your photo and relive a moment of joy.
5. Buy one thing you'll use at home.
We don't buy souvenirs or knick nacks when we travel. Firstly because we have to carry it and second, we don't need or want more stuff. But, I may buy a wrap to wear, which is small, light and useful. In Rottenburg I bought a piece of very Austrian fabric, which we use as a table runner, so we see it every night at dinner. Previously I've bought a pen, a notebook a small necklace, swarovski earings for example.
6. Keep a journal of your trip.
Some people don't like writing. But I encourage you to get a small notebook, and at the end of each day write a few notes. You might like to slip a ticket in the page, or a photo when you get home. You will forget many of the fun little things that happen if you don't write them down. Then you also have the pleasure of reading your story again, and remembering the details of your experience. Alternatively, you make a travel blog or use facebook to keep a record of events. Facebook will remind you in a year's time and show you your photos again!
7. Keep a ticket in your purse/wallet.
I have a small train ticket in my handbag pocket. You could put something in your purse or wallet. If you're like me, looking for things in your bag, you'll rummage around regularly, and come across your ticket, which will be a nice a little surprise. You'll experience a little moment of joy as you reminisce briefly - before continuing the search for the keys.
So hopefully by now, you're getting the idea. You can prime yourself for joy by creating your own triggers and cues, that bring those memories and feelings back. You know how this works in a negative way sometimes, where things bring back unhappy memories and emotions. But you can use the same mechanism in your brain, to bring back joy too. Use all your senses to spark your happy emotions. Yes it will take effort.
You may have to pour out your last drop to make it happen. But it's worth priming yourself for joy, and then you can have as much as you want, whenever, where ever, you want.