I made myself a present!
I made it a few weeks ago. It was super easy to make, and it’s super easy to use.
I call it my Oracle of Happiness. The name is awesome because I can leave myself notes that say “Did you OOH today?” and then I smile and pull out the OOH.
The OOH is a little deck of cards. Each card has a simple activity that makes me happy. I made it out of index cards, cut in half to make the cards little and adorable. I used colored pencils to write and/or draw on each card.
I like to start the day by shuffling the deck and pulling out a card. If the activity on the card is something I want to do RIGHT NOW, I do it RIGHT AWAY. If the activity on the card is something I want to do later, I leave the card out where I’ll see it, so I remember. If the activity on the card is something I’m not sure I want to do today, I might pull another card or two to give myself some more options.
When I first got the idea to make the deck, I had a hard time getting started. It can be hard sometimes to do something really nice for myself, especially something that feels so out-of-the-ordinary. To help me think about what I wanted to include in my deck, I started with 4 categories: Body, Brains, Connection, and Soul. I then brainstormed a list of 11 activities for each category. The Body category includes things like “give myself an ear massage”, “cook one of my favorite dishes”, “practice yoga”. Brains activities include “do a crossword puzzle”, “go to the library”, “study a totally unfamiliar topic”. Connection activities are about my connections with other people, so there are things like “offer to help a friend with something” and “write someone a thank-you note” in there. Soul activities include “give myself a Tarot reading”, “draw how I feel right now”, and a bunch of different writing activities since that’s one of the main ways I feed my soul.
Once I’d done this, I had 44 ideas right there to put on my cards, and suddenly I started thinking of all the other things I wanted to put in my deck that hadn’t made it onto the list yet. I’ve added 20 more things since I started! The great thing about a deck of cards is that I can always add more.
I have a couple “rules” for my Oracle of Happiness. They’re all basically the same: The Oracle of Happiness is my way of giving a gift to myself every day. It is never for making me do anything I don’t want to do.
1. Only things I like to do can go in the deck! Activities that I feel like I “should” do, but don’t really want to do, don’t go in this deck. “Clean the kitchen”, for instance, might make me feel happy AFTER I do it, but I don’t LIKE to do it, so it doesn’t go in the deck.
2. If I pull a card and I don’t want to do the activity, I get to try again. I get to try again as many times as I need to, until I find a card with an activity that I want to do. If I look at the card and say “Crap, do I have to do that?”, the answer is always “No, I do not! Try again.”
3. It’s great if I do at least one a day. It’s not “required”, but it’s great, and it totally “counts” as a “to-do list” item.
4. If I’m feeling stressed, anxious, angry, bored, whatever…I can stop what I’m doing, grab a card, and do that activity as a way to shift gears. Most of the activities are variable in time commitment, so whether I need a 5 minute break or a complete extended interdimensional energy shift, I can find something in the deck to help.
I’ve been using my OOH just about every day since I made it about six weeks ago, and I’ve experienced DRAMATIC improvement in literally EVERY area of my life as a result. I’ve been more motivated to work on important tasks. I’ve been more skillful in my interpersonal interactions. I’ve been able to deal more effectively with stressful situations and to pull myself through PTSD episodes with a much quicker recovery time. It’s definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself!
I would love to invite you to do something similar, if this seems like something that might work for you! Maybe you’d like to make your own deck of cards, or a book or list or app or some other wild idea that hasn’t occurred to me. If you’d like to share with me about what you choose to do, I’d be thrilled — or, if you’d rather make it your own personal project and not share it with anybody, or if you want to share it with different people who you choose yourself, that’s totally okay too! I don’t “own” this idea in any way and I am happy for it to be yours too.