Monday, March 21, 2011

Happiness Is as Happiness Does

Several times in the last week or so I've started a Happy post.

This is something I've really wanted to write about... something I've had on my mind for a long while, and it just isn't going away.
I don't do "coaching" posts. Now that isn't because I don't have an opinion on things, :), rather that I have way too much respect for personal, individualized evolution. (Which is also the reason I am a great heretic... I'm one of those "figure it out for myself" sort of souls.) My Truth isn't going to look the same as someone else's, and there is so much magic and wonder in discovering Empowerment that I wouldn't dream of depriving anyone else of that gift of magnificence.
However... there are a few things that I know for sure.

Things like:
Never feel guilty about supporting or creating your own happiness... if you ain't got something, you ain't got it to give.
Never feel guilty or embarrassed about supporting your children's happiness.... when children are their happiest, they're friendly, and eager to please, and so excited to help others, and so enthusiastic and joyful and like magic little fireflies. How can that possibly be a bad thing?

People forget that it's alright to feel Joy. And excitement. And an eagerness and enthusiasm and appreciation for life.
I'm not sure why. Certainly I'm selfish enough and have been pursuing it long enough that Joy is not something I tolerate living without for very long. When I am without it, I am lost, and I try to retrace my steps and figure out exactly where I've misstepped.

I think we can have a lot of guilt for feeling happy, as crazy as that sounds.
We might feel guilty because we cannot be feeling "true" happiness because we don't have twenty-thousand extra in the bank. "Why am I entitled to Happiness when I am overdrawn in my checking account? I'm so inept!" Inept people aren't entitled to be happy.
We might feel guilty about wanting or choosing happiness because sad things are happening in the world. We're ashamed to feel happy in the face of sadness. But I'll tell you this... our dwelling in sadness is not going to uplift or enlighten one other soul. Only loving thoughts and kindnesses can do that. We can only banish the darkness by bringing light to it.

I think that along with the guilt and unworthiness, we can fear that if we pursue or dare to think Joy we are just pretending... and that we'll be discovered and held up as a big fat fraud. Someone will know I'm not really worthy! My house isn't clean... my kids screeched over the last cookies this morning.... I shouted at my children practically all day one day last week... I haven't been caught up on laundry in over five months, now... People like me can't be happy (if there ever was a soul as wretched as me)... feeling good is reserved for people who are perfect!... We'll be put up on the box in Town Square and people will shout "Pretender!" and throw stones.

And so for these reasons (and a thousand others), we plug along, and just take the littlest bits, and appreciate that as Good Enough.
And sometimes it is. Maybe even for years.

But it doesn't have to be that way.
It doesn't have to be that way.

When we think about our finest moments, we know they don't come from the darkness. They come from our Greatness. We were feeling well enough to shout to the world from a hilltop! We wanted to spin and spin and spin until we flew up into the sky. We felt strong, and God-like, and loving, and happy, and wonderful. Wonder filled.
Feeling good, Happiness, is not a sin. It is empowering. It is magnificence.
There is no good reason not to choose it.

So... how?

Goodly thoughts. Goodly actions. It will look and feel different for each of us. And it will change, too, according to mood and opportunity and needs.
I say 'whatever it takes'. The part that we all get hung up on is the conditionality of it; How do I make happiness happen?... but even that can be helped.
For me, as silly as it sounds, a good place to start to recalibrate is open doors and windows. Sometimes a clean house. Sometimes thinking games with my children. Meditation, a walk, a grand adventure, a cup of tea, spiritual poems, irreverent behavior, giving a couple of bucks to the guy with the sign on the corner... saying Yes.

A great way to find Happiness is to simply acknowledge (say yes to) the good things. Choose good thoughts. Notice good things. Know that what we place our attention upon is what grows. (So we may as well be thinking happy!)

On the flip-side of the conditioning is to just rest easy... it is our natural form to feel good. We don't have to fight against anything to get there, we just need melt into it. We just need to open up ourselves to the Happiness, and not look for all the reasons why it cannot happen in this moment.
It's not helpful to think "If I only do this, I'll be happy..." and though I myself like to get obstacles out of the way (for instance it's difficult for me to meditate in a messy space), we need to place our minds and attention upon the Joy itself, not the obstacles in the way. The Joy is where the gift lies.

So pursuit of happiness sounds like a lot of work! Gotta worry about people judging you, gotta be brave and announce I'm worthy because I Am... Shouldn't we just be happy (er.. or not) with our lot? And why even bother, when the crumbs are sometimes Good Enough?
Because Happiness is as Happiness does.
Because we want to feel good.
Sheesh, because it makes the world a better place.

One of my most fulfilling moments comes when we have such grand plans for our day... we have a list of favorite places we're going... favorite snacks packed up... the children are so bubbly and excited and eager... they're flying! We have a couple of extra dollars in our pocket so we can say Yes! to an icecream cone and Yes! to a trainride and on the way home we'll say Yes! to a run through the park if we aren't ready to fall over...
I feel so good. The children feel so good. All is right with the world.
Saying yes to life and joy is blissful.

Another benefit of appreciating one's life and happiness is that when you're focused on the good, the bad just isn't so bad.
Like the other day when a toy went down our bathtub drain. Might not sound like the end of the world to you, but when you live in a house from 1950 with sixty year old metal pipes, you can get sort of panicky about such things.
I was talking "removing the drumtrap", and Eric was thinking "coat hanger". I am very happy to say that Eric had some magic mojo working that day.

A few days later we had the basement flood. From toilet water. I know.
I totally ignored it (the sun was out that day) until the next day. When I went down at about four a.m. to see what I had to truly face, I found that it wasn't nearly the catastrophe that I thought it would be. About a third of the water that I had thought, and no real damage to toys or things... though certainly things had to be taken care of (mopped up, sterilized, etc.).
The bad just wasn't that bad.

It is my experience that when I'm happy and joyful and exuberant, I pass on happiness and joyfulness and exuberance to my family.
When my children are feeling limitless and ecstatic, they pass on that, and act with joy and thoughtfulness and love and want to share those things.
I don't need anyone's blessing or nod of approval to be entitled to happiness.
I choose to feel good because I want to feel good.

When we're appreciators of our life (which means to make something of greater value) we bring to us even more good things. Our thoughts are on the goodness, the goodness is what we're looking for, and the goodness is what we'll find more of.
And Happiness is our experience.

And then there we are...
all aglow and smiling.
Thinking and feeling and acting that life is a beautiful thing.


  1. I just want to say...Wow! What a brilliant post!
    I have this undercurrent of feeling that I have to somehow "earn" my happiness sometimes, put it off till later, till the chores have been done. I love how you left the "flood" and went out just because the sun was shining... Perfect!
    Little by little I'm working toward simply taking the joy in every moment, making the happiness choice my first and ultimate choice. It is such a worthy choice to make afterall.
    Thank you for these inpiring words:)

  2. Suzy - I'm glad you agree that it's worth it and a good choice! :)

  3. blimey - this is AMAZING!

    I'll be coming back to reread, and reread, and reread....

  4. Thank you, Stephanie.

    These words are beautiful. I read them slowly, carefully. I thought, YES. I thought, Me Too. I thought, Aha, and Hooray! I thought of how I've found Happy recently, and when I've not, and how I can find more.

    Your words just make Good rise up. And out, and into me. They make my thoughts kind of glow and rise too, until there's all this Light and I think, I can, and it IS, and YES.

    I am so grateful for that!

  5. YES! I'll just leave it at that, extreme agreement :)

  6. Thank a warm cup of tea on a cold morning :)

  7. Ditto to SuzyQ!

    The other day I was thinking: Our dishwasher leaks. I have a washer and dryer from the 1980s (and the washer can only be turned on using a clamp-the dryer only dries on one setting and then, I pray the whole time). Michael's desktop computer crashed, I revived it and then, the monitor broke. We have a hole in the upholstery of our sofa (on BOTH sides of the cushion). Our only stereo skips CDs even when the CD itself is not scratched in any way.

    But whenever I think of any of this stuff it seems so small. I survived cancer. I am fortunate to stay-at-home with Benjamin all day, every day. We do what we want, when we want, how we want.

    This makes me happy. All. The. Time. I am happy. Alive & happy. The other stuff? Small inconveniences. :)

  8. Love to you my dear, wise friend. I can hear you speaking this post to me.
    Isn't happiness, joy, and bliss unbelievably fantastic? I have been struggling some over the past few months because my life is so, so good and I am so happy, but do I really deserve it? Should I share how happy I am with others? What if they feel bad because I am happy? I decided to step into the joy, fully embrace it as mine, and most importantly be grateful for this wonderful life I have. :)
    Love you~

  9. What a wonderful post! All those "excuses" we have for not being happy, or acknowledging our happiness...they can just melt away.

    Thanks for writing it!

  10. Thank you. I needed this today.

  11. Love, love, love that!

  12. SuzyQ - you are exactly right! I spent this afternoon painting outside in the garden with the kids, and because of this, I felt compelled to pull out all the stops for a fancy a penance!

    Madness, I tell you...but I'm happy to read this, happy to know that happy is good and happy - so happy - to be happy!

  13. Blogger won't let me leave a message...sending you an email instead. xo


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!