How Present Are You in Your Happy Place?

“Be where your feet are.”
– Scott M. O’Neil

The Challenge of Staying Present

Do you have a “happy place” you go to in your mind when you want to escape a currently uncomfortable moment, such as when you’re waiting in a doctor’s office, or caught in a traffic jam, or enduring something seriously difficult?

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and I was actually physically present in my happy place: the beach. All of it was there: the sand, the sun, the crashing waves, the tasty snacks, the paperback novel.

Yet despite this perfect setting, my mind wouldn’t stay here.

It drifted to some dark thoughts, of harsh words heard, of feelings of betrayal, of immense grieving of precious people.

Is the Body Keeping the Score?

An unusually high wave splashed ocean water a little closer to my chair. It woke me up. Back to the moment. Back to the beach. Back to contentment.

And back to curiosity.

  • Why, even in the best of circumstances, can our minds not stay centered?
  • What makes it so hard to stay aware of where we are?
  • Is there a way to lock into the present moment, and stay here?

Pondering the thoughts, my mind drifted to Bessel van der Kolk’s popular book (and now even more popular phrase), The Body Keeps the Score. The premise is that when we experience a traumatic event, it embeds itself into our bodies. Without subsequent healing, even when our minds try to forget the trauma, our bodies don’t forget. Our bodies remember; they keep the score.

The Body’s Memory of Joy

So sitting on the beach I wondered: is the opposite also true? Does our body keep the score from good experiences, too? Like sitting at the beach?

If my eyes are seeing the waves, my ears are hearing the sounds, my toes are feeling the sand, even as my mind wanders back and forth, is it still adding up in my favor?

I don’t know for sure. But I hope it is so, that even when my brain isn’t fully present when I’m in my happy place (I wish you were here), my body is still present. My body is fully alive in this good experience.

Then, when my brain eventually comes home to reality because it always does—oh yeah, we’re at the beach!!!—I can relax even more fully.

Thanks for coming back, friend. Can we sit here together awhile?


What is your happy place? In quiet moments, is it hard or easy for you to stay fully present? Share in the comments.

I’m noting my curious thoughts a little more intentionally this year since my One Word for 2024 is Curiosity. See all my Curiosity posts here.

More articles on Curiosity

6 thoughts on “How Present Are You in Your Happy Place?

  1. Michele Morin

    I see this tendency to be there-but-not-there, too—especially when someone in our growing family is missing from the gathering. I think I can bring my own 2024 word into the answer God whispers to me in those moments: Receive the GIVEN without allowing my longing for the not-given to get in the way. That’s the prescription I’ve been getting, but it’s not necessarily an easy pill to swallow.

  2. Trudy

    Thank you for sharing your musings, Lisa. And for sharing the truth of how the body keeps the score. Many people don’t understand that. Love and blessings of further healing from “harsh words heard, of feelings of betrayal, of immense grieving of precious people.”

  3. Tea With Jennifer

    Our subconscious’ do indeed keep memory of traumatic events Lisa, & will remind us in our bodies even of the date when it took place each year! At those times it takes practice to stay fully in the moment within our happy place & time.
    Blessings, Jennifer

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