How to Find Joy By Remembering Who You Used to Be

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I stood in front of the jigsaw puzzle shelf at the bookstore, feeling that old childhood rush. “Can I still handle a 1000-piece challenge?” I pondered. “Hell, yeah!” my inner voice answered. I would just have to wear my reading glasses.

Puzzles were among my passions as a little girl, and I still gravitate to them — along with bookstores and libraries — when I need a mood lift. 

Many of my peers talk about the things they used to do, but convince themselves that their tastes have matured well beyond their girlish or boyish follies and hobbies. But when you’re bored, stressed, or simply in a funk you can sometimes elevate your mood by returning to those simple and joyous activities that gave  you pleasure years (or decades) ago.

When my adult daughter and I get together each summer, we sew (using a machine, of course). Indulging in “retro hobbies” can also be a great bonding exercise between parents and kids. When she was a little girl we often delighted over crafts projects.

Sports (playing or going to a game) can not only provide a nostalgic rush, they are generally healthy. If you’re worried about your aging body parts, simply find an adult league.

And, on the other side of the health spectrum, you can enjoy an “I remember” moment by eating a favorite food from your childhood. Sadly, many of the recipes have changed over time. But occasionally you can luck out and discover that perfect bowl of mac and cheese, double-scoop cone,  or overly-sweetened cereal. 

I’m certainly not suggesting that you live in the past…quite the opposite. Returning to the things that always gave you joy can reignite that sense of pure pleasure. 

If you don’t remember what you used to do in your happy place, comb through old photos or home movies. Although I certainly don’t look delighted in this old pic, the items in the room give me clues — the game of Clue, books (comic and otherwise), and fun sleepwear — things I still love today.

I stopped just short of buying a box of 64 Crayola crayons (with sharpener) in the school supply aisle. Perhaps that will be my next rainy day purchase…

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