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Wanna Feel Better Fast? Try This!

photo: Joseph Jude on flickr

What do you do when you’re feeling crappy?

If you’re like me, you have a variety of techniques to feel better, some of which work and some of which don’t.

In the past, food – especially sugar – was my favorite quick-fix. Never mind that it made me feel worse afterwards, I convinced myself that the momentary high was worth it.

photo: Zawezome on flickr

When sugar outlived its usefulness, I turned to other, more reliable sources of solace:

Exercise. Meditation. Affirmations and affirmative prayer. These practices, when used consistently, are a lifeline – a powerful way to boost my mood. Not to mention my self-esteem and connection with the Divine.

But still.

There are moments/hours/days when these tried-and-true techniques fail to lift my spirits.

photo: Leland Francisco

A while back, I was in a pissy mood. And not just any old pissy mood. I was in a pissy mood for no good reason. In other words, I couldn’t hunt down the source of my negativity and smother it with positive vibes.

I had no idea why my knickers were in a twist.

This lack of someone or something to blame only made it worse. How was I supposed to feel better if my grumpiness had no known cause?!

I have a regular gratitude practice, and I often find that listing things I’m grateful for will brighten my mood. So I tried that. And it helped, a little.

But not enough.

photo: John Lambert Pearson on flickr

That particular night, I had a commitment. I was a teaching assistant in a class at the Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa, and I needed to be there to help with the class. This wasn’t a paid gig. It was an act of service.

I really didn’t want to go. Like, really, really didn’t want to.

But I’d made the commitment, so I dragged my grouchy self to class.

The minute I got there, I went to work. There were chairs to be put up, lesson plans to be reviewed, and handouts to be copied and collated. Before long, the students showed up and the class was on its way.

Halfway through class, I realized I was feeling better.

You know how you have a bad dream, and you’re getting chased by monsters wielding pick axes? Okay, maybe that’s not what happens in your bad dreams, but you know what I mean. You find yourself in a bind of some sort and you can’t get out.

photo: Alan Turkus on flickr

And then you wake up. And you realize that the pick-axe-wielding monsters were all in your imagination.

This was like that. My bad mood was like a nightmare. And being in service was what it took for me to wake up.

Indeed, I often find that the best way to feel better fast is to step outside my own little world and do something for someone else.

Believe me, I’m the last person in the world you’d expect to be making such a statement. For most of my life, I’ve been a serious disciple of the Lone Ranger School of life.

Actually, I was even more hard-core than the Lone Ranger. He had Tonto.

I just had me.

This was my old philosophy:

Why rely on others when I can do it myself? And why help others when there are others who can help instead?

But becoming part of a spiritual community changed me. And one of the best ways I’ve been changed is by understanding the joy of service.

Besides the whole Lone Ranger thing, “service” is a word that used to make me gag. It reminded me of fake-smiling, apron-wearing, platitude-spouting Do-Gooders.

God forbid I would become one of them.

But I discovered that service can be things I love: music, writing, speaking, learning. Service doesn’t have to be synonymous with suffering. Or apron-wearing. It can be synonymous with joy.

Here’s my theory. (Don’t forget: I’m Dr. Z! I always have a theory!)

Bad moods are usually a version of I-suck-itis. For whatever reason, we become convinced we’re no good, and it feels like nothing can change that.

But service reminds us that we have worth.

We can do something to help someone else. Be it a large act or a small one, we have value in the world.

photo: Fort Meade on flickr

So here’s my recommendation:

Find something you can do to serve others. If you’re already in service, Rock on with your bad self! If you’re not sure how you can help, make a list of potential ideas and commit to one of them. Or, if you’re still not sure what to do, talk it over with a friend. Maybe you’ll find something you can do together.

And if you don’t like the first thing you try, try something else! I guarantee that the world needs your particular brand of help.

Even if you don’t wear an apron!

photo: Mount Rainier NPS on flickr

What’s your favorite form of service? How has it enhanced your life?

 

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14 Responses to Wanna Feel Better Fast? Try This!

  1. Janet September 18, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    Apron-wearing? Thanks for planting that seed–wasn’t in my memory bank…LOL!

    • Z Egloff September 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      You’re welcome! I live to serve. 😉

  2. Steve September 18, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    There is an old Irish joke that goes something like:
    The Priest says to his Catechism class, “Our purpose here is to serve others”. Little Clancy raises his hand and says “But Father, what are the others here for” (ba da boom!) O.K. maybe not that funny when we realize the simple answer is “To be served!” It feels like being open to being served is as much a gift as being of service. One begets the other, cool huh :-)

    • Z Egloff September 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

      Hi Steve,

      I LOVE this! (And I’m stealing it for future talks!) And thank you for pointing out this very important point. The very act of service implies both giver and receiver. Both are vital! Though I think your joke sums this up much better than I ever could. Thank you for sharing it!

      XOZ

  3. Tanya September 18, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    After working many thankless years for nameless, faceless uncaring corporations, I decided that I really wanted mission-based, purposeful work. So, don’t make buckets of money, but every day, wake up excited and happy that I might be a bean counter, but I am a bean counter with a purpose behind it other than just money.
    It’s not for everyone, but it made me a lot happier and more satisfied with my day, once i joined the world of not-for-profits.

    • Z Egloff September 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Hi Tanya,

      Always great to hear from you! :)

      I’m glad that you found work that is fulfilling for you. Nothing better than being happy and satisfied with your work! I share your experience with needing to feel a greater purpose behind what I do. And I’m lucky to have found it in several different arenas.

      Here’s to happy bean people!

      XOZ

  4. Jo Lauer September 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Whee-hoo! I’m burning my apron.

    • Z Egloff September 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Yay! :)

  5. Carol September 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Love, love, love your blog—-Lone Ranger School of life—been there and now know that it is important to be a part of community and support and be supported:)

    • Z Egloff September 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, it’s totally amazing to be part of community, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to spiritual growth. I find that I can more completely connect with a feeling of joy and belonging, which is ultimately what the Divine is about. Yay!

      Thanks for your comment! :)

      XOZ

  6. River September 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Singing as a spiritual path has recently come into my life. It relieves the “no good grumpy horribles” and replaces them with joy unlimited..or at least some joy. What I am learning is that, this is service. When I sing it connects me to Me and connects me sometimes to You. So if you like what I sing, maybe it reminds you of You. At least I hope it does/will.

    Hope that makes sense.

    • Z Egloff September 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

      Hi River,

      It sounds like you’ve found a wonderful way to connect with both the Me and the You. Thank you for sharing this!

      For me, playing piano with the One Heart Choir in Santa Rosa is a great way to get out of my “no good grumpy horribles.” It’s hard to stay pissed/disgruntled/sad for long when I hear those voices surround me. Music is a magical way to connect with the Divine. And I like the way you link this to service. Good stuff.

      XOZ

  7. Adam October 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Honestly I love exercise as a way to help get my mind back on track and feeling positive!

    I don’t want to detract from your overall point in any way, but I would like to put my $.02 in and expand on the topic of exercise to try and make it a more helpful technique for your readers. :)

    Exercise rocks! It has all kinds of benefits including fat loss, endorphins, blah blah blah. And it’s fun! I use exercise in a couple different ways to help counter negative emotions.

    If there are friends I can go do something with, it is so easy and fun to do something like playing basketball or going biking. Something active that you enjoy, along with people you love spending time with, can take your mind off almost anything!

    If no one is available to hang out with and do something social, I like to just go crazy. What does that mean? Set a ridiculous goal that there’s no way you could achieve. Then achieve it. Not much of a runner? Go run 10km. Heck run 20! Don’t like swimming? Go do 1000m of lengths in a pool, and don’t stop until you succeed! You’d be amazed what you can accomplish if you have some time and put all you have into it. And once you accomplish something like that, which you thought you never could, I promise you won’t have any more negative thoughts. Also you’ll know how much stronger you are than you thought you were! You may end up being a little sore the next day though!

    Punch a punching bag until you are exhausted. And I mean absolutely exhausted! If you’ve never tried it, you would be amazed how good getting emotions out into a punching bag can feel. For bonus emotional help try picturing your problem as the punching bag. Punching your problems rocks!

    Just want to double-triple-quadruple clarify that I am totally for service as well! Helping others is probably the coolest thing anyone can do! I don’t mean for this to be an argument, but more of an addition/elaboration.

    By the way I love the blog Z, it’s amazing! I’m just getting started, but hopefully picking up momentum as time ticks on!

    Adam

    • Z Egloff October 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Hello Adam,

      Welcome to the land of the Goofballs! Thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents.

      I agree with you that exercise is an amazing way to feel, well, amazing. I love exercising and do it often. In fact, combining exercising and service would be one way to get a double dose of feeling good.

      Stop by again any time. And I wish you all the best – and lots of fun – in your own blogging adventures! :)

      XOZ

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