3x3 Challenge: For the next three days, I’m going to practice these three happiness hacks: metta meditation, gratitude lists, and self-hypnosis. You should try it too. Why not? I’m going to employ three techniques in order to be a more positive, calm, and relaxed person. Here they are:

1. Metta Meditation: Instead of 5:17am slamming sleepy fingers to the keyboard like an angry metal drummer, this morning I took five or six deep breaths with my eyes closed and hands over my heart. I learned this loving-kindness meditation from my Thai Massage teacher about a month ago. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about how positive intention matters more than masterful massage technique. Not only have I been thinking about it, I’ve been practicing it during Thai Massage treatments. I’ve been arriving to the massage very early, centering myself, and imagining myself pushing positive intention into the physical space and the massage recipient. Unfortunately, I haven’t been practicing loving-kindness (or “metta”) meditation off the massage mat, especially in the last few days. Today is Day 1. I’ve chosen three days as a kind of prelude to New Year’s Resolutions— manageable and trackable amidst the holiday flurry. Both before I write and before I begin my day, I’m going to close my eyes, place my hands over my heart and think of EllieRoo (because she lava plows me over with an immediate heat blanket of love). Why do this? I mean why not increase loving-kindness energy? Also, it appears as if the holidays are prime-time for anxiety, stress, etc. So why not flood the circuitry was positivity?


2. Gratitude lists. Research shows that writing lists of all the things, people, circumstances in your life that you’re grateful for is a happiness hack. Here we go:

a. I’m grateful for a happy, healthy EllieRoo. She really does have this ability to ignite a mundane moment into baby magic. What a gift.

b. I’m grateful for my mother-in-law for hosting me in her house. Which I imagine is difficult, because I have been/can be difficult. Especially since, amidst the difficulty, I process and vent by writing publicly. I see, aspire to, and appreciate your open-nest, open-refrigerator, mi-casa-es-su-casa policy.

c. I’m grateful for my wife/life partner who really has been the needle of my moral compass for the past four years. From my alcoholism to kleptomania to jealousy to controlling behavior, Kate has served as a teacher by reliably articulating rationale for doing-the-right-thing. Not only that, but she’s remained gracious and patient during my many foibles and fuck-ups. And for that I’m humbled.

d. I’m grateful for the ground beef in the refrigerator that I’ve been grazing on for the past few days and the one or many cattle now dead for my nourishment. While forking a salad of mixed greens yesterday, I told the plants that they were beautiful too and I was very thankful for their green vitality. But I think, especially given my prior moral hesitance to eat meat, the deceased four-leggeds deserve a shout-out.

e. I’m grateful for my sister Carol. Since she lives in Fargo, roughly1500 miles away from middle Georgia, there’s ample insulatory space between her and my day-to-day grind. I can call and talk when I want, about what I want, for as long as I want. So the relationship’s soil is fairly hospitable. But, where she excels is an above-and-beyond support for me and The Alt Dad Diary, given the physical distance between us. Identifying and taking an active interest in what someone else is into is such a gift.

f. This will be it for today. I’m grateful for many other people and many other things, but enough for now.


3. Self-Hypnosis: I read on Facebook the other day that the human brain can’t distinguish between words you actually say and thoughts you merely think. The implications of this neurological reality are wide reaching, but I’m going to utilize positive imprinting to create a tide of self-fulfilling prophecy. “I’m a loving, relaxed person.” “I’m go-with-the-flow.” “I’m appreciative and honored to be here.” “I’m wise enough to see anxiety as fear and know the fear is irrational.” The other dimension of this, that I’ve been using lately, is self-esteem. Like a farmer, I’m 109% certain my harvest named The Alt Dad Diary will eventually support me. Maybe not this season. Or nine seasons from now. But eventually. I keep telling myself. “Patience. Hard work. Patience. Hard work.” The reality here is that you are what you think. So think positively.

For the next three days, I’m going to practice these three happiness hacks: metta meditation, gratitude lists, and self-hypnosis. You should try it too. Why not?

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