Today let’s talk about happiness. We’re happiness crazy on this planet – so what better topic to bat round? There is tons of research around the subject. I just did a Google search on the term “happiness research” and it turned up 7,300,000 results. Yes, we all want that elusive and fickle thing called happiness.
But, let’s not look at the latest research. I’m not going to site one study to prove my theorem today. And, that’s because I think I can make a pretty darn good case for chillin’ on the happiness quest to actually become more happy.
I think the focus on happiness alone makes us less happy. We end up comparing our happiness to our friends and neighbors, and those bouncy cheerful sorts at the gym. And, can we talk Facebook for a moment? How many tearful posts have you seen? That’s right – none. That’s because people only post their happiest moments and most fun adventures on those Caribbean cruises and hiking Machu Picchu and cradling their new grandbaby. They don’t share their loneliness, insecurities, failures, and run-ins with their boss (with the rare exception of that friend that lets all their laundry flap in the wind).
So, the first misstep in the happiness quest is comparing our lives to others. Firstly, we don’t know what’s going on in their lives for real – we only get the postcard version in public. And two, what good does comparison do anyway? It’s really the gateway to envy – which is not a feel good emotion. It’s like wanting to taste chocolate cake and getting a mouthful of fermented skate fish (saw it on Andrew Zimmer’s show once, ewww!) Okay, so we have a new happiness life rule – comparison is to happiness as fermented skate fish is to chocolate cake.
And, just to back up a little on the comparison concept, in chasing happiness, our minds are forever comparing the now moment to past experience – our memories. “Oh, this steak isn’t half as good as the one I ate at that Brazilian restaurant in NYC,” your mind says. Don’t engage with those thoughts! For Pete’s sake (and your own), let’s not have the mind turned up and turned on at all times. It’s only comparing to the past or trying to project the past into the future. And, what do we get with that? One – a whole lot more of the past. And two, dissatisfaction. As we know, dissatisfaction is a fer piece from happiness. So, what do we do? We breathe. We breathe our presence into each moment. We let the moment stand on its own for what it is. When we hear the thoughts come in to judge, compare or label the moment, we shift our focus away from the thought and back to the moment. We breathe in deeply and enjoy what’s coming at us in the present.
Every moment doesn’t have to be a hayride. There can be a really full and satisfied feeling in resting into each moment, no expectation, no force of will, no needs, no worries, no judgments or comparisons. Watch the bird peck at the crumbs on the restaurant’s patio floor. See the tree limbs dance in the wind. Appreciate the beautiful authenticity coming from the person with whom you are conversing.
Anyway, that’s my thoughts today — just chill on the pursuit of happiness. It’s always right here when we are open and receptive to it. Blessings!
Sandra M Bell
|The Happiness Advantage – book
Lunchtime Joy Magnet – book
|Constant Bliss is Beyond the Mind – article
The Fastest Way out of Depression – article