8:30A.M., sweating to death in a busy subway terminal is not everyone's idea of a lazy Sunday. However; it is possible to find your happy place in any situation.
If you're having a hard day, or you're up against something difficult, there's always a way out...and it's through your happy place.
In the early Sunday morning at Barclays Center and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn it's easy to feel like you're the last person alive. The usually bustling and crowded platform is barren, save for a few crumpled newspapers and some Gatorade bottles discarded by the hungover MTA riders of Saturday night.
Our train, the Manhattan bound N train has come to a halt over Manhattan bridge, and I don't even bother to look out the window at the glittering skyline.
I'm accompanied by some colorful characters this particular Sunday morning. There's a handsy Latin couple next to me, all fondling and laughing at each other's jokes, probably still drunk from the night before.
Across the subway car there's a Chinese man sleeping, snoring like a Loony Toon. To his left are two well dressed, painfully skinny girls, who can't be more than 15. Their teeth are practically chattering. I guess the air-conditioned car is too cold for their brittle bones.
Two little kids, a boy and a girl are laughing at the Latin couple who are full-on making out in the seats next to me. At this point, they're out of control...embarrassingly so, all sloppy and slobbering. People are shielding their eyes.
I on the other hand, would like to calmly open the subway doors and quietly let myself out onto the bridge, possibly to jump into the water and swim to Manhattan.
I instead, look inward and find my "happy place."
The definition of such is completely different for every person, but the way to get there can be universal. If you're anything like me, life hands you a lot of difficult situations. And you must have a strategy to tune out and calm down in times of stress or annoyance.
The first thing I do, is close my eyes and take a deep breath.
Just the act of "conscious breathing" is an instant calming force. Spend a few minutes just focusing on your breath, then you're ready to find your happy place.
The next thing to help is to pick a soundtrack that transports you to a different place, whether it be island music, rain sounds, or your favorite band. Music has the power to change nearly any mood.
The secret is to make sure you know what makes you happy. Sometimes when I'm on the train and things are getting weird (like when a homeless man is talking to himself and swearing really loudly in front of children, in New York this happens a lot) I think about being on stage with my favorite rock band...singing along or playing guitar. I put myself in a position that makes me happy.
For you, this "ideal" or "dream-like" situation could be anything. If you're an animal lover you can imagine that you're playing with a puppy, or kitty cat. If you're someone who loves sports, you can imagine yourself on the field with your favorite team. It just depends on what really makes you happy.
You should not force yourself into this place, that will just bring you frustration. Instead ease yourself in, organically train your thoughts to guide you there. You probably already do this when you're just daydreaming at school or work. Your happy place is the place your mind goes to when it's got nothing to worry about.
Once you're there, things will get easier, you'll slowly tune out everything around you. All of the people will go away, and so will your negative and frustrated thoughts. Prior to getting to my happy place, I was wondering if it would be appropriate to pay for my coffee with quarters.
Now, I'm on stage with The Libertines, singing along side my favorite rock-stars...getting ready to stage dive into a sea of like-minded people, screaming and laughing with me.
I have three weeks left in New York City, a place that often seems lonely and unforgiving, yet amazing and triumphant. My plans are made in coffee shops and hotel lobbies...I live in someone else's room. I eat at someone else's kitchen table. I don't really have a home anymore. My solace from an uncertain future and the anxiety that comes with it is my happy place.
No matter what is happening in your life...how severe the sadness, or the anxiety...your happy place will always be there, waiting behind a deep breath.