The Key to More Happiness is Water

Photo by Carol Stringer

While setting my coffee cup down on a coaster, I stopped midair, taking in the motivational inscription on it entitled “Advice from a Dragonfly.” The inspiration begins with the line “Spend time near the water.”

I’ve seen dragonflies zip in and around ponds, canals, and other forms of wetlands.  I get it. And it is not coincidental that I live in a cozy condo along Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway.

Photo by Carol Stringer

Wanting to discern precisely why humans, animals, and insects alike are so drawn to the water, I did some research. Ever heard of blue mind? Apparently, it’s a thing. According to marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, it’s a “mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness with life in the moment.” Experiencing blue mind makes sense. Our brains are composed of 75% water, so no wonder we are enamored by flowing oceans, rivers, and streams.

Okay, ready for some geeky science stuff? Stay with me; this is interesting. According to scientists, the atmosphere near moving water contains elevated levels of negatively charged ions. Why is that important? Because these ions cause a brain reaction that emits the mood-enhancing serotonin helpful in lowering stress. Here’s another interesting fact, aquatic therapists are now treating PTSD, addiction, autism and anxiety disorders. And my favorite fun fact proclaimed by Nicols is one of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin, did much of his writing (yep, you guessed it) in the bathtub.

Establish Blue Mind

Okay, I realize not everyone can flit around water like a dragonfly or live alongside a body of water, or even spend a day at the beach. But do let this sink in; Nicols is spot-on when he states, blue mind is not going to be accomplished on Instagram.

So, make time to shut down all the screens, silence the chatter, log out and find some water, even if it’s a pond in the park or a fountain in front of city hall. Try getting creative. Any chance you can plan a day to go where the fish live, cast a line and perhaps catch a few? Or how about heading to the YMCA or gym with a pool and do some swimming.

Home Remedy

If all else fails, do what dear old Ben did. Fill your bathtub then slowly breathe in and breathe out as you contemplate the calming effect of water.

A quote by scientist Loren Eiseley neatly sums up the importance of this liquid elixor, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”

Advice From a Flamingo

My friend Carol gifted me with a coffee coaster adorned with  flamingos of the flamboyant pink variety wading in a wetland. As I gazed at the scene I identified with the key verb – wade. That’s how I feel about 2021. It’s January 13th and I am still not prepared to dive in and embrace the year head-on. In fact, I haven’t even created my goals for the next twelve months. Could be I’m looking for a softer entry, and wading into life this year sounds perfect.

Thinking about this bird prompted me to do some research. As I did, I realized a flamingo is a good role model for setting goals. Recalling the flamingo display I saw a few years back at the San Diego Zoo, I remembered they are fed a special pallet to keep them “in the pink.” Hmm, staying healthy both emotionally and physically is always a goal for any year.

Finding Balance

You probably know this top-heavy bird can balance on one leg for hours on end. Ah, another key word, balance. I want to stay grounded and keep this year in-balance which leads me to another interesting term – pivot – which I am making my word of the year. I want to excel in the art of the pivot. Yes, this does indicate change, but it’s a balancing act. When you execute a pivotal movement, one foot is kept fully grounded. I don’t need to be a change agent this year, but pivoting will keep me flexible. So sign me up for the flamingo balancing act.

Setting the Pace

Here’s another fun fact about our feathered friends. In order to fly, flamingos need to run a few paces to gather speed. Perfect! I’m not diving in or hitting the ground running this year, I shall gather momentum to get me moving in the desired direction.

Lastly, a flamingo nest is not fancy, just a mound of mud, maybe 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters) high. This speaks to the simplicity I want to keep in my life. Editing out the noise and focusing on only what is important, necessary and joyful is key here. My goal is to concentrate on activities that help me grow as a person, along with actions that bring kindness and caring to the forefront.

Be the CAO of Your Life

So, dear readers, seems like the flamingo’s advice helped me work through how to structure my life in the coming year. How about you? Anything resonate, like balance and simplicity? As my friend Joanne states it, you are the Chief Awesome Officer of your life, so plan accordingly.

I wish you all a year of living in the pink as you follow your dreams and make your dent on the universe.

A Different Kind of Gift

A number of my Facebook friends love taking tests. You know what I’m talking about, right? For example, there is the Color Personality Test, How Old Do You Really Act Test, and the What Should Your Parents Have Named You Test. (I got Emma by the way).

     Well, I have a test for you. It’s about gift-giving. Coincidentally, this is my birthday month, and I can tell you precisely what will happen. My friend Nancy will give me some wonderfully practical item (last year it was organizers for my luggage) that I will keep forever. Janie will send me something lovely, but it will probably arrive in November. She has a loving, generous nature, but tends to run behind a bit. From my husband, it will be something he knows I want even though I never expressed it. He is perceptive that way. 

     My pal Samantha loves sweets. Consequently, my gift from Samantha will probably be some luscious chocolate-fudgy something or other. She gifts me with something absolutely over-the-top, and I love her for it! 

     Birthdays are fun, and presents are great, but let’s get serious for a moment and talk about a different kind of gift. Rate yourself on the non-material gifts you offer the world. Are you generous with your compliments? Do you lavish praise on others, especially those who desire your approval. Are you taking the time to offer encouragement and a helping hand? Do you mentor and act as a role model for others? Do you give of your time and stay present in the moment when interacting with loved ones? Is gratitude high on your priority list?

     If you passed this quiz with flying colors, I applaud you, but if you came in a little lean, no worries. We are all a work in progress. I’m making kindness a priority this year. On my Vision Board, I posted a sign that says, “Kick up Your Kindness Level.” One of the ways I am doing so is by using the website, More Love Letters. 

     The founder, Hannah Brencher, a Ted Speaker and blogger, was my inspiration. Feeling lonely and depressed when she moved to New York City, this real-life hero did something about it. Hannah started writing and leaving love notes all over the city. She tucked them away in library books, coffee shops, and even bathroom stalls. You can read more about this kindness movement in her  book, “If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers.”

     Each month I go to Hannah’s website and write a love letter of sorts to someone who could use a dose of encouragement. If that act of kindness appeals to you, head over to her website now.

  This week, make it a point to shine your light on others. Caring acts bless both the giver and receiver. And thanks for reading this post and being a loving change agent!

Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear how you made the world a little brighter with your act of kindness.