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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Capitalizing

If you live in New England, then I’m pretty sure you’re crying uncle right now. Even avid skiers and snowmobilers have to be tired of all the shoveling and snow blowing we’ve had to do in January alone. It seems the weather channel may as well just put the forecast on loop as each week is filled with more of the same; snow.

During my last 2 hour commute home with ice crusting on the windshield and traffic crawling at 10 mph I could feel the black clouds darkening overhead. No, these clouds were not the threat of more snow, but the black mood of being cramped in the car, and knowing home was a long way off. These moods do not lend themselves well to achieving the state of happiness that I am working toward. What could I do in this moment when I felt trapped by circumstances beyond my control? What good is reading books like Shawn Achor’s if we can’t put his principles to work in our everyday lives? It occurred to me then that I was indeed on the right path if I could even recognize the bad mood welling up, and that I had the power within to change it.

I began to review the 7 principles in my mind of the Happiness Advantage. I didn’t need to go down the list very far to pluck something off to elevate my spirits. I selected an option from Shawn Achor’s list to capitalize on the happiness advantage; I found something to look forward to. In addition to thinking of happy moments in your life, which is now my morning practice, another great mood elevator is to think about a future event you are looking forward too. It can be something tomorrow, a week from now or even a year from now. All you need to do is put your thoughts there and create the images of the event. What better thing to look forward to than a motorcycle vacation?

I had recently read an article about motorcycling in Kentucky. Kentucky sounds like a perfectly reasonable destination to me. I began to imagine myself in Bluegrass Country. I remembered some words in the article about the long sweeps that crisscross the country side. Or maybe I might like to visit the Eastern Highlands with its clusters of twisties corkscrewing through the hillsides. I’d traveled by car through parts of Kentucky before, but passing through is never a reliable measure for impressions. While creeping along the roadway, I searched my memory for things I knew about Kentucky that we might visit should we take our motorcycle vacation there.

Cumberland Gap if I recall passes into Kentucky from neighboring states, and didn’t Daniel Boone blaze this trail? Thinking of Daniel Boone cause the corners of my mouth to turn upward with the thought of adding a coon tail to the back of my helmet in honor of good old Dan’l. While I don’t think Daniel actually wore a coonskin cap, Kentucky frontiersmen are often associated with them. Or maybe we might travel to Churchill Downs and watch a few horse races. Then once stopped for the night, enjoy the state’s best bourbon at a local pub, or even visit a distillery.





I haven’t heard much from my riding buddies about touring Kentucky. This could be an opportunity for me to explore the region, photograph interesting sights and gather lots of fodder for writing. I found myself enjoying the thought of all the possibilities when low and behold, I crossed the NH line. Home was getting closer, the black cloud had lifted, and I was anxious to get home and research more about Kentucky. How many miles could we do in a week? Possible routes, sites along the way were all questions I wanted to answer.

While I’m not sure I’ll select Kentucky as my destination, the advice to think about something to look forward to in order to capitalize on the happiness advantage did indeed elevate my mood. It can help you as well, so that when arriving home you don’t shout at the kids or bicker with the spouse. In fact this particular exercise gave me the great idea of drawing a circumference by distance on the map to see where else I could daydream about a visiting. If I can dream it, I can do it, and that alone is an empowering thought; one that indeed can capitalize on happiness in one’s life.

Photos courtesy of the Kentucky Tourism and Wikipedia

3 comments:

Mark T said...

Pat,
All of us here in KY share your winter blues, we can't wait for spring to fire up our bikes & get to exploring.....be sure to holler if you decide to head our way, the Wander-Team would be proud to show you some great KY sights along with the awesome roads to get there!

Mark T

Baron's Life said...

I was just on the phone with a friend who lives in Rhodes Island and his phone kept cutting out and in sporadically due to the weather conditions there..(And this was his land line)So, No I don't envy you being in the North East and having to put up with Mr. Weatherman this year.
It is murder when a Biker is stuck on the road in a cage, especially after having had a wonderful riding season...I can visualize how restless you must have become. The good part is : Spring is around the corner...soon we will be out riding again...hang in there kiddo..Did I ever tell you your writing is quite exquisite? Thanks for sharing.

chessie said...

I was pleasantly surprised to see you have blogged about visiting Cumberland Gap area! You see, I have just posted my impressions of the Gap and surrounding area. Come take a look... :) I'm enjoying reading your blog...