Take Comfort with a Few of Your Favorite Things

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Jennifer Snelling


Why not allow yourself something small to remind you from time to time of who you are on the inside, what is important to you, or who cares for you?”


I received a small angel keychain in some junk mail as an incentive to send more money to a charitable organization.  The keychain wasn’t worth anything, but it was attractive. 


At the time I was dealing with a lot of negativity at work and had heard that adding a personal touch to the work environment can lift spirits, so I hung the angel keychain on a bulletin board in the back of the office.  My coworkers and I often congregate there get work done away from the prying eyes of our customers.  I can’t tell you how many times I spied that little angel while under stress and immediately felt better.


They’re all around us – artifacts, symbols and trinkets of inconceivable variety that have become a meaningful part of our life.  As children, we latched onto them … from special pencils to rocks.  They are still a part of our everyday lives … anything from key chains to magnets and jewelry.


Our homes are filled with items that hold sentimental value or make us feel good in some way.  We each try to make our homes a comfortable place – a retreat – and fill it with such things that we cherish, relax us, or simply make us happy.  But what about when we leave our homes?


Often the outside world can seem impersonal and unfeeling.  Even work or school, where we spend so much of our lives, can seem like a dispassionate place much of the time.  People who have their own desks or offices have the privilege of covering them with photographs of family and personal mementos.  But what about the rest of the office, and what about those who travel or don’t work in offices?


My great aunt was very fond of unique rocks and had amazing collections of them sitting around in her house.  I remember her showing me a particularly smooth pebble and telling me a story of a young boy who carried a stone in his pocket.  Every time he needed a boost of confidence or courage, he rubbed the stone between his fingers.  No one else could see it, but it was a tool for him, and over time the edges of the rock became smooth.  No doubt that small stone provided a great deal of comfort.


What items could you add to your day to lift your spirits?  Perhaps personal things that are meant to help in this regard already surround you, but you often don’t have or take the time to notice them?  Adding a small personal touch here and there can not only stimulate your mind, it can comfort and inspire you, keeping you more focused and in better spirits.


If you don’t have your own office or desk, find something personal to add to the environment that doesn’t affect others and can be easily replaced if it disappears.  Clip a picture of a favorite flower out of a magazine and stick it to the bulletin board.  Buy inexpensive magnetic photo frames and have everyone in your workplace stick family or pet photos on the refrigerator in the break room.  You can hide sachets with your favorite scents in the back of a desk drawer, put quirky ink pens in your penholders, or fun knickknacks in your toolbox.  In the car, hang a meaningful key chain or a wallet size card with an inspirational quote from your dash.  If you change environments often or you’re unable to alter your work setting, you can be like the boy with the stone, and carry something of a more personal nature with you in your pocket or purse.


If you struggle with something specific in your workplace, write advice for yourself or a personal affirmation (see Powerful, Life-Changing Affirmations) on a small piece of paper to carry with you as a reminder. 


A small piece of paper can also be useful for simply making a list of thoughts, sayings, or memories that make you feel good inside.  Each time you need to feel better, you can pull out your list and think about one of the items on it for a moment or as you continue with your work or studies.  And lest we forget, another great thing to write down and carry with you is a prayer that can help you through the day.


When I was younger, my grandfather was struggling in his personal life and our family’s business at the same time.  He was extremely frustrated and felt down on his luck.  I wanted to do something to cheer him up.  The only thing I could find to give him that might in some way make him feel better was a reddish-pink rabbit’s foot on a chain that I had acquired somewhere.  It was a strange gift perhaps, but it felt soft and caring and I was a little girl.  Even now 15 years later, I occasionally see that little, worn curiosity hanging from his keychain when I happen to be in the car with him.


Why not allow yourself something small – serious, silly, rare or commonplace … it doesn’t matter as long as it’s meaningful to you – to remind you from time to time of who you are on the inside, what is important to you, or who cares for you?


Small touches like these can act as rays of sunshine in the most bleak, frustrating, or dull moments, and can get you through the day with a glad heart and a smile on your face.


“We need to distinguish between nostalgia and the reassuring memory of happy times, which serves to link the present to the past and to provide a sense of continuity … nostalgia does not entail the exercise of memory at all, since the past it idealizes stands outside time, frozen in unchanging perfection.  Memory … may idealize the past, but not in order to condemn the present.  It draws hope and comfort from the past in order to enrich the present and to face what comes with good cheer.”
-Christopher Lasch


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Posted on 26 March, 2009 in Finance & Family, Happiness, Making the Day Count
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