The Gentle Art of Distraction

“I have found that truly happy people have the capacity to distract and absorb themselves in activities that divert their energies and attention away from dark or anxious ruminations.”
From the The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubormirsky

I am starting to find that a whole lot of my personal happiness level lies in my ability to distract myself when I’m feeling sad or mad or bad.

Instead of saying something snarky or sighing heavily, if I can just get myself to stop thinking about it; to stop allowing myself the self-indulgent tendency to steep and bathe and wallow and squish around in it.

I think I remember using this knowledge to my advantage when my kids were smaller – not so much consciously – but just as a way of breaking them out of a funk. If the kid was a little upset, a good distraction was my best weapon.

When they were really little, I used to make an animal sound under my breath. “Quack, quack” or “moooooo,” followed sharply by my question: “What was that?” Pretty soon, they were falling all over themselves to play in my little game and they forgot that they were mad about something. It worked so often that I started to feel pretty good about myself.

Now that they are older, they see right through me.

But it still works for me, I find – sometimes. If I can somehow trick myself into not thinking anymore about what’s making me mad or sad or bad, it helps. Then I can come back later with a fresh head and work out whatever it is.

Sometimes, good hard runs straight uphill help the most because I don’t have space in my mind for any thought but “Good Lord. I’m going to die.” Other times, it’s enough to watch giggling babies on YouTube.

Susie Michelle Cortright is the founder of Momscape.
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