Let’s be honest – we all have that “happy place” we go to in our minds when we’re stressed, scared, bored, super mad, or incredibly frustrated. It’s our cool off – get your mind off your present circumstances – I’m going to be ok in a minute place that almost instantly calms us and makes us smile just thinking about it.
(Ok – time out. Let’s stop here for a sec – if you don’t have one of these places – get one! They’re very handy for keeping you from doing or saying something really stupid. Or sending you to the hospital.)
When my sons were still in elementary school, they LOVED Minecraft and spent hours playing it. Like everything else I never knew I’d learn about because of my sons, Minecraft got added to the pile. I watched, asked questions, and became intrigued with the game. Whether you play in Survival Mode (just try not to die) or in Creative (build whatever your imagination can come up with), it is a game that you fall into and become immersed in that other world. I’d never experienced a game like that before, and I understood its appeal to my sons because it’s like going on a mini-vacation where your mind is completely absorbed in SOMETHING ELSE.
Now I know that doesn’t sound like everybody’s definition of fun, but for me, it’s great. My mind is a lunatic hamster on an exercise wheel that just keeps churning. And when I’m stressed or upset – well, that little inner hamster goes double time and I’m surprised it doesn’t just keel over from a heart attack given the pace it’s running!
So finding something that makes my mind shut up and stops its running? BLISS!
I gotta admit – I’m a frustrated wanna-be architect. I love Minecraft largely because I can build all the things I see in my mind and be as creative as I want to be. Of course, I have to operate within the physics of Minecraft, so there are unique challenges that force me to really think outside the box. And that challenge – of a creative nature – is what really gets me energized and makes me smile.
So you might be wondering why I’m going on this thought journey about “happy places”. Because frankly, we all need a safe, happy place to go to in our minds when the “real world” is just a bit too intense to endure for one more minute. And why, you might be asking, am I feeling the need to go there now? Same reason.
Work is working itself into a literal frenzy these days and everyday feels just a little more challenging than the day before. The staff and students are intensely focused on state testing right now and doing their absolute best – I couldn’t be prouder or more impressed with all of their efforts! – but it’s stressful and deeply personal work. The need to let off steam and vent is palpable, and it comes out in all kinds of ways, most of which require me to be in the midst of it with them. And although I’m happy to support, it does take its toll on me, as well. Let’s be honest – if I don’t have some way to let off my own steam, then I’m really no good to anyone, me included.
So Minecraft is my happy place.
I can literally stand in a hall and breathe and picture the latest thing I’m building in my world. As I visualize my structures, I can play with options, colors, textures, and designs in my mind, all the while becoming so absorbed in the thought, that whatever emotional reaction I might have been experiencing has vanished like mystery mist and left me refreshed and ready to face the next challenge. (Did I mention I might have to do this several times a day? Hey – whatever it takes to keep that hamster running at a normal rate!)
And I didn’t have a tantrum, get my blood pressure up, or do something really stupid that I’ll regret later. Perfect!
I don’t know what you might be facing in your daily life, but I bet you’ve got some stress from time to time yourself. Honestly, some stress is motivating and beneficial. Unfortunately, some stress just falls on you like random snow sheets off a roof and smashes you to the ground. That’s just not helpful – ever.
So the next time you find yourself buried under that snow bomb – and before you give up or freak out – just STOP. BREATHE. Go to YOUR happy place, and get yourself sorted out for a minute. Then, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get ready to start shoveling. And maybe go to that happy place while you’re shoveling!
I’d love to hear from you about your “happy places” – where do you go? Leave your thoughts in the comment box (and a “like” if this struck a cord with you)!