Cultivating the Seeds of Happiness
I’ve been feeling pretty out of sorts the last few days. Apparently my post on Mental Illness Awareness Week took me down with it, as well as a few of this blog’s followers. I know it’s a numbers game, but it does feel like rejection on some level. Of course I “un-followed” an artist’s blog last week, once he veered into several postings involving fantasy artwork. I’m down with dragons, but I don’t need to see enslaved maidens with breasts bigger than their noggins. To each, his or her own. And no, I’m not posting the link to that blog here.
The “grand career epiphany” of last week was followed by the inevitable let down – the realization that things will remain the same for awhile. I’m still working and juggling and there are no outward changes to my life. I did compulsively buy some new quality pens and notepads to signify my commitment to focus on writing. And they sit, pointedly, in their packages on my desk.
I usually recognize when I need to lift myself up and a question arose that’s been with me all day long. What does my happiness feel like? What does it look like? I immediately thought of back floating this summer during a sunny day on a clear Canadian pond. I couldn’t hear anything. I only felt the buoyancy of the water gently rocking me and the sun warming my face. It’s a moment when I am perfectly happy.
I asked my husband what makes him happy. We’ve been married 12 years, but sometimes you have to look at someone you know well, with curiosity and openness. He said “I’m happiest when I solve a problem, especially a problem that I’ve been tangling with for awhile.” He’s an inveterate inventor, a jerry-rigging, modification-making man. Our house is often one giant lab of computer parts, soldering irons, table saws and lots and lots of PVC pipe. I love that I could ask and he could answer so quickly – that his own joy is so familiar to him.
Sometimes we lose touch with what our happiness feels like. I have been wracking my brain for more moments. If we don’t remember what brings us peace or joy or happiness, how can we ensure that it comes again and again? Here are some of the moments that I came up with for myself:
- Gardening in the hot sun, with sweat dripping in my eyes, dirt ground into the knees of my jeans and catching the smell of lavender or mock orange blossoms.
- My first cup of coffee in morning. Seriously, that first sip is nirvana. Or caffeine addiction, but I’m staying on topic, dammit.
- Laughing with my daughter when something strikes us both as funny.
- Finishing a really good book and sitting there in awe of the author. This, of course, is shortly before I think, “I will never be able to do that.”
- Sitting out on the front stoop with my family, shooting the breeze, freaking our neighbors out a little (we have a very solitary/sedentary neighborhood).
- Editing a nearly finished piece of writing.
- Sleeping with the window open and hearing the wind blow through the trees.
- The first notes of a live music performance. They send chills up my spine.
- Crawling into a comfortable bed at the end of a very long day (oh yeah, I am SO middle-aged).
Like a lot of people, I’m multitasking constantly, switching gears and diverting my attention onto the next thing. Happiness can only be felt when it is noticed and remembered. It’s worth reminding ourselves of the simple things that give us that feeling, however brief, of contentment and bliss.
And now I’m going to crawl under the covers, taking note of that little happy moment when I lay my weary body down and hope to dream of floating in a warm cup of coffee as the wind blows my daughter’s laugh by on a lavender breeze.
What are your happy moments?