(Originally Published in The Huffington Post)
There's something my 8-year-old wants you to know and as a coach, writer and speaker who spends her days supporting people in creating lives they love, I have to say the kid is on to something:
It's her "Feeling Better" spell.
She came up with it a few weeks ago. We had just said goodbye to both her Gramma and her big brother who had been visiting. She had already had herself a good cry, plenty of snuggle time with Mom and Dad and even tried turning to the treat drawer — but she was still "feeling sad" and so headed to her room to some "alone time."
Not long afterwards she emerged smiling and said "Mom, I made a spell to feel better". (We were currently in the midst of a Once Upon a Time Netflix marathon and so magic was a massive topic of interest.) She led me through her three step spell and I was blown away by the simplicity and power of it — until I remembered that it's often the simplest things that hold the most power.
The spell got further refined the next day at school, when she stumbled upon the fourth step.
The day after she created the spell I was surprised when I picked her up and she said to me, "Mom I got scared and was missing you really badly today." "Why didn't you call then?", I asked.
"Because I used my spell instead. And I added a part at the end."
So without further ado, here are her four steps to "Feeling Better" spell:
#1 Take a big breath.
Seriously, this is so basic that we actually forget about it. That's why I adore kids, they remind us of the basics — the simple, yet ridiculously important things that we forget. That day at school she found a quiet spot and took a minute to close her eyes and take a deep breath. Deep breathing is the fastest way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and the relaxation response — aka chill out city.
#2 Make sure there is love around you.
After a few minutes alone she went and found her friends and told them how she was feeling. Again, so basic — but how many of us actually pull back when we are having a hard time, because we don't want to burden anyone when we are "down"? But suffering in silence is one of the worst things we can do — it leaves us feeling isolated and alone which only amplifies and prolongs the feelings, whereas reaching out reminds us that we are all in this together and that we all need a little extra love sometimes. This can be as simple as sending a text to a friend that reads: "bad day, send love."
#3 Have a little laugh.
After sharing how she was feeling, it was time for some fun — the under 12 set has this down. But as "grown ups" we sometimes forget how to do this. Here are a couple of ideas you can try the next time you are looking for a giggle: go to the bathroom and make ridiculous faces at yourself in the mirror; ask a kid the meaning of life (or where babies come from); or just google "Jimmy Fallon lip sync battle."
#4 Help someone younger than you (aka offer yourself in service).
By this time she was feeling much better, but there was still a little a wobbly-ness, "I wasn't sad anymore, but I was still missing you a bit." And this is when the spell got taken to a whole other level. One of the little ones, an adorable 4-year-old with a mess of curls and the sweetest voice you have ever heard asked for her help — and so she discovered the magic of being in service. It wasn't anything huge — he just wanted her to help him find something — but what she realized was massive: not only does helping someone else make us feel better in and of itself, it also gets us to stop focusing on our own shit!
And best of all it gives us a sense of control over our little corner of the universe, because it is entirely empowering to see our own effect in the world — game changer!
So the next time you are feeling down take a deep breath, shoot a text to your BFF, giggle yourself silly with some Fallon and look around — how can you make someone's day better?
PS - Looking for another way to click into that oh-so-blissful relaxation response (which, incidentally, is exactly where you need to be to connect with the energy of magic—true story), read this.