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November 28, 2015

Pills That Make You Happy (Really).

Bảo-Quân Nguyễn/Unsplash
Happy Pills is a candy store I stumbled upon in Barcelona, Spain this summer, with rows and rows of empty pill vials labelled, “Happy Pills,” which you fill with candies of your choice.

It is a sweet concept, no pun intended. While it’s a small shop, you cannot miss its bright signage, and you’ll be drawn into the shop just out of curiosity.

Once you step in, you are literally transformed into a “kid in a candy store.”

Since coming across the concept of Happy Pills and playing with the words in my mind, the phrase has also taken on a symbolic meaning for me, to the point that I have made an imaginary vial of my own “happy pills.”

Candies are fine for a special treat, but I now carry around my own extra vial—not filled with candy, but with anything pleasant that helps me get through the day.

Each time I am faced with a different emotion, I imagine opening up a vial and holding dozens of different “mood stabilizers” (not the synthetic kind, but those thoughts and feelings that put situations in perspective). No prescriptions, and they are re-filled in my mind.

When feeling angry, I might look for the gratitude pill that helps me to truly appreciate what others have done for me and acknowledge and accept my own strengths. Gratitude is a great antidote to anger, especially in those moments when it is gripping and you might as well be stuck in quicksand.

In those moments where I feel slighted or hurt by others, out comes the forgiveness pill. It could be a reaction to an insensitive remark or behavior, such as others making plans without me or my feelings being dismissed. The pill helps me to forgive others and recognize their humanness. It means accepting my vulnerability to feeling slighted and hurt, and accepting that I may not always have a tough shell to cope with the vagaries of my emotions.

High anxiety always calls for action, and generally speaking, the world is a stressful place—on the home front, at work or with friendships. I only take these pills when anxiety is on the rise, reassuring myself that I can manage the lesser storms. Before swallowing my anti-anxiety pill, I remind myself that anxiety, like the huge waves of the sea, will pass and that I will survive the more turbulent storms. The actual medication causes me to become active and look for ways to channel my energy, be it through walking, dance, yoga, or sports. I must say that the anti-anxiety medication is as powerful as they come.

What do I do for sadness? The sadness pill has different effects. I save these for those times when a friendship dissolved or any real loss in my life, not for passing feelings of mild sadness. What is special about the sadness pill is that it allows me to acknowledge and accept my feelings rather than finding every which way to fight them. The sadness pill also gives me hope that these feelings will not last forever and the strength to do things that might bring me happiness. What better anti-depressant than creating happy situations for ourselves?

Now that you heard my story, why not make your own personal vial of imaginary happy pills? Through your imagination, you can personalize the kinds of pills you would want in your vial and come up with effects specific to who you are as a person.

Carry your vial around with you as a constant reminder that there are so many unique ways to cope with uncomfortable feelings that come our way. It might not be a bad idea to create a vial as a gift for yourself, especially with the upcoming holiday season. While joyful for some, for many others these times can bring up a well of emotions that can overwhelm us and dampen the spirit of the holidays.

A little vial in your back pocket and you have the power to change all of that!

Happy Turkey and happy you!

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates

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Relephant Read:

How to Be Happy. {video}

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Author: June Rousso, Ph.D., M.S.

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Carsten Scherzer/Flickr // Bảo-Quân Nguyễn/Unsplash

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June Rousso, Ph.D., M.S.