I have a simple model of living. It includes choosing happiness. I don’t mean the pie in the sky, head in the clouds, ignore everything that is upsetting in the world kind of “happiness”. I mean genuine, authentic, down to earth happiness. I mean deep in your heart, body, mind and soul happiness. Feeling blessed and expressing that blessing through life.
Maybe I need a new word for this quality I challenge myself to bring into my life in every moment of every day. “Happiness” is so over used and loaded cliche. It causes an immediate re-action in others as do so many other words that attempt to convey a quality of life or an elusive emotional state.
I guess one translation of this would include how it looks on the surface. Simple answer, I smile a lot. Again, I don’t mean that huge cheshire cat grin or a forced fake smile. Usually, I feel it more as a slight, relaxed inner smile. Maybe it doesn’t even show on my face at all. I’m not sure. But you can probably see it in my eyes, which might just look a little softer or curved at the edges. I feel it most in my heart. A gentle softening and a relaxing that causes everything to just “be” with a little more ease. Thats my smile.
Happiness for me, translates more as a lack of gripping and attachment, then any one material thing or quality. When I am happy, I am free of what feels like to me, the constriction of toxic emotional states. That is not to say I don’t feel anger, or sadness, or grief, or resentment, of fear, or anxiety, or rage, or disappointment, or so on and so on. There is often a misunderstanding here, that by choosing NOT to live in these states I mentioned, that it means I am somehow running away or ignoring them or wore yet, shoving them in some emotional closet that I never want to open.
Nothing, I mean Nothing, could be further from my truth.
Happiness embraces all these things. In happiness, I can still feel my sadness. With happiness, I can still honor my anger. Alongside happiness, I can still walk with disappointment. The difference being, the temporary moods and feelings that pass over me no longer have to rule the moment. They can offer me their perspective, plead with me to re-act, and still…. I choose happiness. I say ‘choose’ because at that level, it is a choice. To go along with the flow of things, I would become consumed in the moment by whatever rages through me.
I guess you could say, I choose to believe that I have a choice.
Whether I am tired, overworked, ignored, sick, stressed, left out, unappreciated, bored or over stimulated….. I can acknowledge those states, I can do something to change them or not, but still I get to choose if I re-act in the moment out of frustration or anchor into happiness. The more I choose happiness, the more I see its benefits in the world around me. In myself, my children, my family, my neighbors, my friends, my students… and so on and so on.
Oh yes, I could dig and criticize and find many examples where perhaps, just perhaps, ‘happiness’ hasn’t served me or might not serve others. Where ‘happiness’ seems downright impossible or inappropriate. But actually, it might just depend on how you define ‘happiness’ after all. In my fluid definition, sometimes, choosing Sadness IS choosing Happiness. Because, as I choose to acknowledge my sadness, I surrender to its pull and find myself in happiness again, as I have honored my most sacred need to be fully human. This makes me happy.
So please don’t mis interpret my lack of getting “fired up” and angry over issues as not caring. And don’t feel that I don’t support your cause, your passion, your work or worse yet… YOU.. if I won’t get agitated alongside you. You won’t find me raising a fist in frustration over the corporate takeover of the world (well, not anymore!!) and I am not going to blame any one group of people for the state of homelessness or any other atrocity we live with (and their are MANY). Even though I deeply feel these plights and share these concerns about the world, the people and this sacred earth.
Instead, I might write a letter, sign a petition, start a petition, support a non profit, shop locally and use my time and energy towards creating and living the change I want to see in the world… starting with me. And choosing happiness. I choose to be happy for all those that long for happiness but can’t get there, I choose to be happy for those who couldn’t care less about happiness and never will, I choose to be happy for my children and their children, for my grandparents and their grandparents.
In that space of happiness is where I connect and how I see the world actually changing. In that space of happiness is where I choose to live.
No, not perfectly. No, not always. No, not easily.
I just start with here and now…
and now….and now.