Someone once pointed out to me that darkness is the absence of light.
If you go into a room, close the door, turn out the lights, draw the curtains, eradicate every little bit of light – you have darkness. True, pure darkness cannot exist where there is even a skerrick of light.
On the flip side, the moment the curtain cracks open even a little, a phone screen illuminates, someone flips a switch in the next room and the crack under the door glows, suddenly you have light.
Have you ever noticed that?
Just the tiniest little pin-prick of light can bathe a darkened room.
Darkness exists in shadows, lurks in corners, hides behind piles of boxes. But light, by nature, reaches for things.
My concept of joy is similar. I believe that even in the bleakest of circumstances, the hardest of days, one pinprick of joy is the difference between a pitch dark room and a wash of light.
At times when my room is dark, that little light may not reach every crevice.
It may not sneak into every corner of sorrow and fear and doubt and hurt. My eyes may need to squint in order to make out shapes and colour- but it is there.
Then at other times, joy is abundant. The curtains are thrust open, the mid-afternoon sun pours in, and the room is awash in perfect bright light. And just so we’re all on the same page: in this scenario, my ‘room’ is my heart.
I believe that I have a joyful heart (there had to be a reason that I named this blog Her Happy Heart after all!). Therefore it’s important for me to be able to recognize the things that fling the curtains open just as much as the pinpricks that keep me sane on darker days.
On the days when my room is brightly lit, Jackson’s smile is unfiltered Summer sunshine. A good cup of coffee is a string of fairy lights twinkling in the early morning. A snuggle on the couch with Chris is a warmly lit chandelier.
On darker days a heaping bowl of spaghetti bolognaise is a little flashlight. A silly text conversation with my Mum is a burning matchstick. Half an hour of perusing recipes on Pinterest is a little pen light.
Knowing that I have access to at least some happiness, some light, in some shape or form keeps me sane sometimes.
Knowing that I can always find something to light my room is so important to me.
So what lights up your room?
It’s important that you know, so you can draw on these things and avoid sitting helplessly in a dark room.
We can’t control when a dark room will envelope us. However we can learn to manipulate things so that there is at least a little beacon in there, bathing the room, enabling a little bit of perspective.
If we seek out our light in response to darkness, that darkness has just a little bit less power over us.
If we break the habit of focussing on the negative, the positive can speak more loudly.
How many of us have, in times of despair, searched for distractions? Maybe we seek out retail therapy (guilty). Perhaps we comfort eat copious amounts of junk food (oh, so guilty!). Maybe we drink ourselves into a numb state, binge-watch Netflix or glue ourselves to our phones and computer screens (guilty of two out of three!).
There can be a fine line between using something as a distraction and using something to draw out happiness.
As an example, I have been known to chase the retail high! I love the fleeting feeling of filling up bags with new things, taking them home with me, and absorbing them into the exorbitant amount of stuff I already possess.
But I am working on perceiving which new things will actually give me lasting joy, and which things give me a quick-fix little retail high.
The lovely purple glass vase I bought at a liquidation sale, which looks like polished amethyst (my favourite gem stone) and sits atop my piano with a small handful of equally pretty vases I have curated – this gives me joy every day. The honey-coloured buffet that I unearthed at a local op-shop, on hold for somebody else, that I called to check up on every day until they chose my enthusiasm over the previous customer’s lack of communication, is still one of my favourite pieces in my home.
But the copious amounts of cheap seasonal clothes, Boxing Day sale jewellery and $10 Kmart shoes I constantly find myself taking home give me a tiny little high that lasts pretty much until the first time I wear them. And then they’re just stuff. All these distractions sit in my room. They cast no light, they clutter things up, and in fact they provide more corners and crevices in which the darkness can loom.
My guess is that every single human on the planet needs joy in their life, in some way, shape or form.
So here’s my advice for getting started on lighting up your room:
Recognize when your room is dark
Sometimes it’s obvious that things have gone dark on you, but other times it’s a slow build; like a pot of water coming to the boil, the lights around you dim just slowly enough to go unnoticed until you realise you’re squinting.
When you start to feel overwhelmed, cranky, sad, stressed – pause. Breathe. Acknowledge that your room is feeling pretty dark right now.
Consider what will light it, and what will clutter it up
Don’t knee-jerk and reach for the closest distraction or empty comfort – seek out quality sources of actual happiness.
Acknowledge that seeking light brings a change in perspective, not a change in circumstances.
I wish I could tell you that once you get in the habit of lighting up your room, all your problems will gradually just melt away. But you and I both know that anyone who’s preaching that message is nuts. What I can tell you is that adding light to your room will change your perspective. It should help you to cope with whatever is darkening it.
Whether it’s an extended period of darkness or you’re just having a bad day, glimmers of light are not only possible, but actually entirely necessary. Just don’t burden your joy with the expectation that it will fix things.
One last thing: we are all worthy of happiness. Believe it. I believe that a sense of happiness is a fundamental human need. If your room is so dark that you aren’t able to find any little source of light, and it has been that way for some time, I would encourage you to reach out and find help. You deserve happiness.
Want more posts like this? Check out our happiness series: