My nose has been running since yesterday morning, a common consequence of being “almost sick”. A combination of Chinese New Year, eating food I shouldn’t have, work and various other extra activities this week had my body calling for a time-out. I didn’t get sick but I did feel exhausted and my throat got a bit sore, a clear sign that I needed to slow things down for a spell.
But amidst the frantic hurricane that has been my life lately I do find some of the activities rejuvenating… up to a point. On top of my weekly singing lessons I joined a choral group and we’ve been working on Broadway songs. And I love Broadway, musicals and the theatre.
There is scientific evidence that singing releases endorphines i.e. the “feel good” hormone. Choral singing in particular seems corelated with higher life satisfaction. So fire up that karaoke box, it’s good for the brain!
An illustration in Rejuvenation: Wreck-It Ralph VS Sing
I said that I find some activities rejuvenating up to a point. This has frustrated me because it spotlights an area where paradoxically I don’t have control over my own well-being.
An explanation is in order: A few years ago I was feeling down so I went to watch Wreck-it Ralph with a friend which was playing in the cinemas at the time. And I absolutely loved the movie. It was well-written, had great characters, was funny, touching and over-flowing with video game references which delighted me to no end. By the end of the movie I was as animated as the CGI renderings on the silver screen.
In contrast, I recently went to watch Sing. Despite getting good reviews, I did not enjoy this movie very much because I felt the studio relied more on popular songs to carry the movie through instead of writing an actual movie with fleshed-out characters.
This highlights my frustration: I like watching movies but just going to a movie doesn’t automatically make me feel better; my enjoyment of the movie itself is also a significant factor.
So it is with singing. I am fortunate that right now I’m practising songs I enjoy but there have been times during my own music lessons when I didn’t like the song my teacher had chosen for us to work on. The experience of watching a move or singing a song has a direct impact on how I feel. Unfortunately, I won’t know if I’ll enjoy the experience until after I’ve gone through it.
Problematic Expectations: Don’t make me think!
There is something to be said about recognizing my expectations and looking for things I can enjoy in situations I’d rather not be in but when I’m actively trying to make myself feel better I usually don’t have the desire or fortitude to spend energy reviewing my expectations or reframing situations. I want to feel better and I want to feel better now.
Which makes me sympathetic to people who abuse chemical stimulants. I can understand why they do it: “Feel good now while doing next to nothing.”
What Rejuvenates me
I’m collecting activities that rejuvenate me but the list is full of things that are unpredictable (e.g. movies, singing), unreliable (e.g. scheduling a massage) or requires significant “activation energy” to get started (e.g. my favourite place to walk is a 30 minute drive away). Probably the only thing I’ve got that works nearly 100% of the time is simple colouring.
And so the search continues…