Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Good Life, Simplified

Do you ever have the overwhelming feeling that the world is saturated with endless amounts of corruption? That life is this endless downhill spiral of negative messages, sexual content, hatred and anger, and way-too-much information?

Honestly, there are so many days when I want to shut it all out, erase the mental computer and find the child-like innocence and pleasure of life. To spend entire days thinking only about good things and positive messages would be fantastic, and perhaps a little idealistic. But what can I say for myself, other than I am extremely idealistic in every area of life, and I don't always think it's a bad thing.

So if you're having one of those days where you want to close yourself of to the corruption-factor, I have a few suggestions for reviving at least the remembrance of innocence. And maybe in the end, we'll feel a little bit lighter, happier, and reminded of what most like to call "the good old days."

Find yourself a glass of lemonade
In homage to the road-side stand of elder days, I recommend starting with a glass of deliciously cold lemonade. Make it from scratch (a fun and "crafty" way to spend some time), stir up some Country Time or do the old concentrate mixture, pour over ice and enjoy along with any of the other activities listed. Don't feel bad about enjoying it from a plastic kiddie-cup, either.

Spend some time with puppies
Okay I'm going to make a shameless plug for dogs, because well, they're my favorite. Dogs are wonderful at helping you forget the negatives of the outside world. They're never mad at you, they're always excited to see you, and they have a sweet innocence about their eyes. They're not only man's best friend, but they're a reminder that the simple life can be oh-so-good. Driving with the windows down, going for a walk, and scheduling in some play time are simple pleasures that make life so much sweeter--whether you're a human or a canine. So play with your pooch, or borrow someone else's for a while, and live the good life.

Two words: Mr. Bean
Well, I suppose I should get specific and say Mr. Bean's Holiday. I love that movie, and I love Mr. Bean in it. Mr. Bean is the grown-up embodiment of innocence, along with some general ignorance. I can't help but wish I had someone like that around at times, so I watch the movie and laugh at the antics, determination and general lack of social graces that make Mr. Bean so lovable. He really is a child in a grown-up's body, something that gets him into chaotic trouble, but isn't all bad.

Hang out with some kids
Take some time out of your busy schedule to invest in children. Whether you do some complimentary baby-sitting, help out at a sports camp, or volunteer weekly, you will feel so dang good after helping a few kids. You will learn a some new things, tell a few stories and make fast friends. In addition, you may get to color, build a fort, explore or tend to a boo-boo. And while the kids are busy thinking they're the ones benefiting, you'll be silently blessed by the laughs, smiles, "kids-say-the-darndest-things" moments, and the knowledge that you're doing something for others. And once again, the simple pleasures in life will reign supreme.

Resurrect the stuffed animal
I'll be honest; I have multiple stuffed animals on my bed right now. Each one tells a different story, but each comes with that warm feeling brought on by a cuddly, childhood memento. So I recommend digging out the old stuffed bear that went everywhere with you and putting it out in plain sight. Or maybe even holding it for a little while. Don't have any stuffed animals? Well it's time to buy one, then. It'll sit on your bed and remind you that you're never too old to enjoy the must-haves of childhood.

Call your best friend
You know that one friend, the one that knows everything about you and still loves you just the same? The one you want to tell every random story to because they'll genuinely laugh and think it's funny? The one who has seen you at your best moments and your worst? Yeah, you should give that one a call. Even if you don't talk about anything important or serious, you will love every moment of hearing their voice. And fitting in some time for reminiscing is always a great idea.

Build a kids' movies collection
Remember those movies you grew up watching and loving? Yeah, they're still out there (and on DVD now, too!). I grew up in the kid-film era of the 80s and 90s and I'm still in love with such titles as The Goonies, (the original) Karate Kid, E.T., and the endlessly classic string of baseball flicks. There's nothing quite like getting a dose of the style, terminology and branding we grew up on. Kids' movies today are so different, yet still pretty good (I really enjoyed Up and Toy Story 3). So I recommend starting a section in your dvd collection devoted simply to kid-centric films. It may eventually rival your drama collection, and you may be surprised how many days you pull one out just to get that reminiscent kick.

Fit in some dancing

Even if absolutely no one is around and you're singing into your hairbrush, let yourself dance. YouTube is great for looking up your favorite songs that you haven't heard in FOREVER. And a little bit of "twisting," "jiving," "booty-shaking," or whatever you like to do, will feel amazing. If you're feeling brave, take a class, dance with your friends or get a dance-along video. The rush of this simple pleasure is totally worth it.

Buy a toy
When I was a kid, toys would go in cycles. We'd get something new and inevitably, the adults would want to play with it too. There was the yo-yo cycle (in which my dad would show off his tricks), the football cycle (which would inevitably draw us all into the backyard), the windbreaker cycle (goo in a plastic cup--I'll let you guess what that was for)... the list goes on. So if you don't have kids around, you may want to tour the toy section, just to see what's out there. Something my strike your fancy. Nerf items are back once again, and who wouldn't enjoy shooting their friends with a newfangled Nerf gun? Once you're done, you can pass it on to those kids you help out.

And beyond...
Really, there are so many things you can do to distract yourself from the overwhelming negatives of life. Some may involve resurrecting childhood pleasures, while others revolve around the simple things. No matter what, it really all has to do with the mind. It's what we think about, it's what we're reminded of regularly. Certainly it's impossible to completely shut-out the negatives of the world, but it is possible to spend time focusing on the good, innocent aspects of life that so often go forgotten. And in the end, you just may feel a little bit better knowing that there's still some good out there.

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