I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness this week after listening to a group of friends talking about their wishes for 2017.
First thing you have to know about me is that I was weaned on those ‘happily ever after’ stories of childhood and, for a very long time, I felt happiness was just out of reach. I had these goals that had to do with my happiness that always kept it just on the horizon – a horizon that continued to shift. Here are just a few of them:
- When I get married, I’ll be happy.
- When I lose weight, I’ll be happy.
- When I have tons of money, I’ll be happy.
As I was listening to my group of friends I realized that we still had what I call the ‘when I’ connection to happiness.
You probably have some of these as well.
Most people I know are worrying about the economy and so might talk about happiness being connected to how comfortable they feel with their ability to earn money or even to keep the money they already have safe from loss. And believe me, I know that worrying about money can sap your joy and energy.
But talking about happiness in those terms doesn’t feel like REAL happiness to me. I think I tend to experience happiness as relative when I misunderstand exactly what it is. So, when things are good, staying with our financial example, I may be ‘happy’ because I’m not worrying about money but most likely I will find a way to replace that concern with something else. LOL
And even when I accept that there is no such thing as ‘happily ever after,’ I still fall prey to the illusion presented by a media machine that equates happiness with sleeker bodies, fewer wrinkles, the latest gadgets, that shiny new car or that ‘perfect’ love match.
So, what exactly is this thing called happiness?
I decided to find out so off I went with my littlest nephews to the nearest playground and spent some time watching two cute little toddlers explore their world. What I noticed is that happiness seems to be a state of aliveness, curiosity and joy experienced in the moment. The next moment you may be pinching your little brother or falling down and getting a scraped knee but that doesn’t take away from the moments when you were just purely happy.
So not surprisingly happiness is something that occurs in the present – in the embracing of the timeless open moment. And in that moment it fills your being so full that it is an experience complete and perfect in and of itself. Then on to the next moment and whatever that brings.
I do know that I can choose how I think and feel about what happens in my life so that means I have the power to choose happiness in each and every moment available to me in any given day.
And so do you.
You, and only you can choose to use those moments thinking about what you don’t have, can’t have, didn’t do, didn’t say, don’t want . . . . or you can choose to use those moments being happy just as you are, glorious in your imperfection. Just for that moment.
This is the secret to happiness…
It doesn’t depend on anything outside of you; only on you exercising your incredible power of focus and choice. You can choose happiness as often as you want. And that doesn’t mean that you don’t honor your other real emotions as well. Once you understand that happiness is a process of being in the moment, you’ll be able to see where you are robbing yourself of your own happiness by the choices you are making.
If you pay attention to your thoughts and moods in one single day, you can notice what’s going on and shift your focus and choose happiness. Just for that moment. Try it, as I am too, and see how that makes you feel and how that shifts your day.
Yesterday I went to the nail salon and got my toe nails painted teal blue!
Now, every time I wiggle a toe I find myself smiling. Happiness – it is found in the most simple of things, maybe even teal blue nail polish!
Where do you find your happiness?