Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pat the Cat

I've recently been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and although most of the book is pretty general about how to be happy (i.e. get more sleep, exercise, start laughing more, find your interests, etc.), I was struck by the reminder that "regularly having fun is a key factor in having a happy life; people who have fun are twenty times as likely to feel happy." And I wonder when I start experiencing heart palpitations (which are obviously no fun), how much fun had I been having prior to their onset? Most likely, not so much. In fact, if stress is the number one reason for my heart palpitations, how can I de-stress? Be serious about play. As Rubin explored how to have more fun, her friend posed the question to her: "What did you like to do when you were a child? What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you'd enjoy now." As I muddled this over in my head, I tried to think of some of the things I liked to do as a ten-year-old. I loved to read books, play with friends, cuddle my cat, dance to music, draw/color, play house, and ride my bike. Some of these things I still do such as reading and obviously "playing" house. But some of these things I haven't done in a long time. When is the last time I put on the Ventures and danced to "Walk, Don't Run"? Last night, I woke up around 1 a.m. I was nervous before I fell asleep because I was afraid I might have another panic attack, and sure enough the anticipatory anxiety woke me up in the middle of the night. As I could feel my anxiety level rise, I thought about what I had enjoyed as a child. I turned myself over in bed so that my head was now at the end of the bed and my feet were on my pillow. My cat Quinn was curled up in a small ball. I started petting him and the sweet sound of his purring soothed my soul. I remembered fondly the days of petting my childhood cat, Midnight. I felt at peace, and it was so wonderful to do something childlike again. Something so simple, but something I had long neglected. I simply got to pet my cat. I fell peacefully asleep to the hum of his tiny motor.