Some of the therapies or tricks involved with mitigating the shortcomings of being autistic often involve a form of happiness distraction. It’s hard to regulate your emotions when you are Autistic or have ADHD, let alone have ADHD while being Autistic, so this is something very important to me.
In fact, today, it’s really important. I’m having a rather raw day. Between the death of my grandmother, and general mental health issues, I just… can’t.
In that vain, I like to take an inventory of the things that make me happy. This isn’t just for fun. It’s a cache that I keep tucked away in the back of my mind for emergencies. When you are stuck in an emotionally volatile state, you can’t suddenly think, “What would I be doing if I were happy?” No, you need to pull that happiness out of your mind like a switchblade you keep in your boot. Ready to be used at all times. This is basic self defense.
That being said, I would like to give you an example of my Happiness Inventory. So that you can make your own- or get that switchblade, whatever works for you.
An important note before you start. It’s true that things like “hanging out with friends” or “making out with my husband” might definitely make me happy, but they depend on another person. For quick happiness distraction, I like to focus on things that I can do at a moment’s notice.
Holly’s Happiness Inventory
In no particular order:
- Watching ASMR videos on YouTube.
- Binge watching “The New Girl”
- Shopping for skater dresses and skirts. Oh! And cardigans. Shoes made for big girls as well. Those are hard to find.
- Wearing colorful tights- that fit! Fit is very important for plus size girls like me, not to mention autistic big girls like me, who have sensory issues with clothing.
- Watching great plus size fashion vloggers, like Sarah Rae Vargas, I love her!
- Taking a nap.
- Making jewelry. I haven’t done this as much since the birth of my son. He tries to eat my supplies, and pull my earrings out of my ears. (I actually haven’t worn dangle earrings in four years, one of my holes has actually healed over. One of these days I will have them re-pierced but due to slightly hilarious childhood trauma, I have yet to even consider how I will do that.)
- Organizing. Not cleaning! Organizing. Big difference. I like having things clean but do not enjoy the actual maintenance of cleaning. (If you do, nourish that love. It’s something special.)
- Shopping for original art online. Check out Society 6 or my favorite contemporary artist, Jess Franks.
- Making and eating the dish I stole from my favorite local Mexican restaurant. It’s so good, with chorizo, bacon, onions and pineapple! SO, so good.
- Making homemade aiolis and mayonnaise. Yuuum.
- Pinterest binges WHILE netflix bingeing.
- Listening to amazing podcasts like Getting Curious, Radiolab, Nancy, and This American Life.
- WATCHING “QUEER EYE”! That was in all caps because I love it THAT MUCH. All five of those men are my role models. Helping people while being entertaining, I can’t imagine a better way to live.
- Painting. Sometimes I can get caught up in the perfectionism of painting, but it is something that I have always loved. Still life is the most relaxing painting. Portrait, the most stressful. (Bob Ross is also the OG of ASMR.)
- Planning or studying. I like to study examples of the projects I am working on and taking notes. SO, since I have ambitions to create my own Vlog, I research great vlogs or YouTube channels, and take notes. If I am writing a show that I want to have a little bit of “Chorus Line” flair, I will watch the musical online, and take notes. Take notes, people. This doesn’t just make me happy, it’s good advice.
- Playing with make up. Because of how I grew up, my make up skills really only came to pass because of the theatre. So now that I want to do it more for myself, I like to play with it on my own. Practice makes perfect, but it also makes for some giggle inducing mistakes.
- HGTV! I don’t have cable anymore, but I will still pick up my favorite decorating shows on my streaming platforms. “Dear Genevieve” was an all time favorite, love Erin and Ben from “Hometown”. Could do that ALL DAY.
- Doing DIY projects, like making light fixtures or painting furniture.
- Watching my hero Hannah Gadsby, do literally anything.
- Going through family photos, especially of the little prince.
- Oh! And my new and undying love… Instagram. I’m all about the gram!
Of course a Happiness Inventory will change with the literal weather, like “look at fall leaves” or “safely sunbathe” or “go skinnydipping!” I don’t know your life.
The point is, to survive the lows, sometimes you have to force a high. Or at the very least cognitively try to distract yourself with happiness. You never know when you’ll stop trying and just be happy!