The Ultimate Feel-Good Activity

Welcome  I shared last week about the Thirty Day Gratitude Challenge I took in December.  Day Seven may be my favorite day out of all thirty.  I call it the “ultimate feel-good activity.”  I’m so glad I get to share it with you today.  

Food For Thought  I don’t care who you are, how optimistic your personality, and how together you may seem to have your life, everyone has down days.  They are part of life.  I am not talking about major life crises or trauma today.  I’m just talking about when we get in a “funk.”  Sometime we don’t even know why, but we just feel sad or so negative.  One of the most mature changes I have made to my life in the past year is to make great efforts to bring myself out of these low spots.  In the past, when I would get down about something, I’d wallow in my self-pity hole.  I used phrases like “who cares, anyway” and “nothing’s right.”  On more than one occasion this spiraled down into a bout of depression, which is considerably harder to bounce back from than just a day or two of being down.  It has taken a combination of therapies and a willingness to work for my happiness so I could get to a place where I know how to seek activities that pick me up and help me focus on the positive.  On day 7 of my Gratitude Challenge, I found probably the best exercise for positive thinking.  It was an engaging activity that tapped into a wellspring of good thoughts and feel-good vibes.

The prompt for day 7 asked “What memory are you most grateful for?”  Holy cheese and crackers!  How can we pick just one memory to be thankful for?  But here’s where that “ultimate” feel-good comes into the picture.  I spent close to an hour just thinking about all the wonderful memories I have from my very blessed life.  SO MANY!  In this process of pondering the many great experiences I’ve had from my life, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that I have no good reason to be negative or depressed.  I’m going to make a small side-note here.  As a person with diagnosed depression, I am fully aware of the fact that we do not always get to choose how our brain processes our emotions and there are mental illnesses just like physical ailments that need medical treatment.  I don’t want anyone to think I’m down-playing the seriousness of these conditions.  Having said that, however, I find it very beneficial to keep a fresh stash of happy thoughts in my brain, and talk about gratitude!  How can I not be grateful for these delightful events from a fruitful life?

There are some memories that just cannot be topped.  The first time I held my newborn daughter in my arms, grateful for this beautiful and healthy life given to my husband and I to treasure and teach.  The instance in my wedding ceremony when my husband and I looked into each other’s eyes with a love that no words could describe and it literally felt like we were the only people in the world at that moment.  The day I graduated college, the first in my family, and the idea that life’s possibilities were limitless.  Carefree days of childhood, running free in fields and forests letting my imagination take me on fantastic journeys.  Memories of awards received, feeling the glow of accomplishment and pride.  Memories of crossing finish lines in long-distance races no one, including myself, would have ever thought I could complete.  Memories of mountain vistas and tranquil trails.  Memories of listening to little children read independently for the first time, knowing I had a hand in their skills.  Memories of good news to be shared and answered prayers.  The first morning I woke up next to my husband as his wife and I knew a lifetime would never be long enough together.  The first night we slept in our very own home that felt ten times the size of our first apartment.  My daughter’s first day of kindergarten.  The first day she rode a horse.  Memories from Christmases and birthdays.  Memories from vacations and date-nights.  Stop and think.  Think of the memories when you wish you could freeze time and stay in the moment forever and the memories you didn’t even know you’d want to freeze and go back to over and over again.  As great as all of these memories are, I still have a lot memory-making days ahead of me.  I just pray that I can live my life seeking God, gratitude, and good times until I’m called to my heavenly home.

I say all this to make a recommendation:  Set aside some time and make a list of all your best memories.  Yes, it’s going to be a challenge, but that’s how we grow.  Will you have some memories pop up that you’d rather not think about?  Possibly, but push past and focus on all the good memories you have, whether from childhood, young adulthood, or present day.  Who knows, maybe one of your best memories was yesterday!  If you really want to dig deep, pick one of your “best” memories and elaborate on it.  I did that with one of my memories, and while it’s a little too personal to share on the blog, I’m still carrying those cherished thoughts with me a month later.  Then there’s a second part to this challenge.  Keep the list handy!  You don’t have to share it with anyone, if you don’t want to, but keep it in an easily accessible location so that when you are having one of those down days, you can easily focus on the good things that have happened in your life.  And don’t forget to be grateful!

Today’s Prayer  My Dear Heavenly Father, I offer praise and gratitude today.  I am so grateful that I have a strong healthy brain that enables me to recall and reflect on the many wonderful memories I have had in my life.  I thank You for allowing those events to occur in my life, for allowing me to life a life worth remembering!  I pray that on my worst days, I can still remember the best of times and offer thanksgiving.  In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Today’s Scriptures  I have two scriptures I would like to share today that remind me of having pleasant memories.

Luke 2:19  “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Exodus 13:9  “This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips.  For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Today’s Recipe  If I say the words “chocolate chip cookies,” most of us can envision some pretty sweet memories, right?  I was blessed with a “happy homemaker” momma when I was growing up, and that always meant some fresh warm baked goods around our house.  Today we’ll stick with the classic chocolate chip cookie.  Maybe you can whip up a batch and let the warm memories unfold…enjoy!

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Few things in life are as tempting as freshly made chocolate chip cookie dough!

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes roughly 3 dozen cookies)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 12-oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream  butter and sugars together; beat in eggs and vanilla.  Whisk together flour, salt, and soda.  Add to butter mixture and beat until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Refrigerate dough for an hour–this is a key step to keep your cookies from spreading out too flat and thin.  When ready to bake, use a cookie scoop to portion out cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes.  Remove to cooling racks.