July 2013 note: Ya… I have like 40 drafts of posts I started last year. I’ll blame chemo brain, etc. Today, I’m exploring those posts. I’m surprised I didn’t post this one… really, it was finished. But sometimes it’s been scary to press ‘publish’ when it is still a very foreign thing for me to be so public about something so personal. But really… this photo is awesome, this day was magical. And apparently I had a lot to say about Happy.
Here’s a ‘very happy, feels good, random decision of what might feel good right now’ activity that happened this month: My granddaughter painted and bejewelled my head. She did such a beautiful job.. and it was such a precious experience.
Who knew I’d ever be sharing a picture of my bald head in a story of happy? Heck, who knew my granddaughter would ever be painting my bald head? Huh. Isn’t life curious.
The concepts and philosophies of Happy spend quite a bit of time in my thoughts, and always have. Finding happy in my rather ‘eventful’ life has been a passion, I suppose.. or a necessity.. or happened by nature. Whatever the orginal reason its played such an important role for me, finding happy is a pretty darn important concept in all of our lives.
Finding what feels good, what makes me happy during this particularly ridiculous series of health events … and practising it in the extreme, has been a very interesting, very soul supporting, and absolutely a necessity for me.
The truth is, though, “Happy” is a challenging place to reach.
It’s so usual for me to hear from a client starting coaching, “I just want to be happy. Why does that seem so hard?” It’s true that once a person arrives for coaching, they’ve already been contemplating important questions. They are already past trying to convince themselves that they are sooo happy. They know there is more to life, but either not so sure what that can be, or know, but want support to make it happen.
A lot of people, though.. a lot of positive and optimistic people are more in this realm:
People are convinced that certain things ‘should’ make them happy, so much so that they feel bad because that doesn’t make them happy.
But honestly, people seldom look at what authentically makes them, as unique individuals, happy. Again, too often, guilt sets in just for ‘looking’ at what makes them happy; after all, if you have a healthy family, an income that is decent, etc.. “is searching for more really ‘just complaining?” they wonder.
And if you’re complaining, does that mean you are being negative? And oh my god, whatever you do, don’t be negative.. it’ll attract bad things!!! (You’ll notice a little sarcasm there. We’re human. We have negative thoughts. Sometimes they are simply clues that a change might be worth looking at.)
And then, toss in a spouse on the sideline saying, “Doesn’t anything make you happy?” when you are simply trying to make ‘something’ in life work better, and there’s an extra dollop.. no, wallop… of guilt.
And grateful… well, grateful gets in the way, too. Grateful and Happy intermix, overlap, can reveal one or the other,.. but where grateful stops us from finding happy? Here’s an example many people will ‘get’: You can be very grateful for your job and the financial security it provides. That doesn’t necessarily mean that job makes you happy. Yet, the ‘grateful’ can easily stop you from choosing to explore options that would make you happy…. because exploring that might also mean you are an ungrateful person.
It’s one thing when it really is negative thinking that stops us from finding ‘happy’.
It’s another thing when we are confused by what makes us happy because of the inundation of media and messages from corporations, governments, religions, education systems, self help ‘gurus’ and even (or maybe especially) friends and families insisting they know what makes us happy.
But it is a whole new challenge when our apparent “positive, optimistic and grateful’ thinking is the culprit that stops us from finding happy. It’s not hard to get past that one, though, once a person realizes that that is what is happening to them. Just knowing can shift the gears.
Ah, the quandary of it all. Perhaps my thoughts can be a little fuel for thought for you. But really I just wanted to share a little step that I know works for me in the happy direction…
The little moments are such an important place to start noticing what truly makes you happy… just noticing small moments that you can honestly say make you feel totally happy in that moment. So happy that all the other weighty things leave your mind even just for an instance.
Most people will dismiss this because of the simplicity. After all, the search for happiness is a great big life long quest by some teachings. Or happiness will happen when the dream of living off the grid is realized. Or in the ideal home. Or the world has to be fixed before we can be happy. Or the bills paid. Or happy and fun are only treats for when the work is all done….. hmm……
Once those things are done, though, there’s a pretty good chance that a person will still be waiting for Happy. The lifetime of waiting, for whatever reasons -not clear on what does make you happy, feeling guilty exploring happy, confusion by all the outside sources telling us what makes us happy.pretending your happy when you’re not, etc- those underlying habits of thinking will still be there playing havoc with the ability to be happy. I know what I’m suggesting is ridiculously simple… finding happy in moments now… but it’s the way to retrain your mind to recognize what it is that makes you happy and allow more of it in.
I’ve had so many ridiculously happy moments in this last 9 months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had to do something extreme. I knew that so much in my world was about to completely crash… my business, my plans, my emotions, my physical strength and even more my emotional strength. I was honestly still regaining strength, reconnecting with a self that felt safe and secure in this world, after the previous two years that involved my daughter recuperating from cancer, a scare with my granddaughter, and a series of lesser setbacks including the financial crash in the US that had hugely affected my business… many of my clients are from the States. I knew I had to do something extreme to get through this latest ridiculous event.
And so I decided I would focus entirely on what made me happy, what made me feel good, what fed my soul. Period. Well, that, and everything that had to do with the medical side.. the research, the appointments, the tests, the treatments, more research, more appointments, more tests, more treatments. But otherwise, I had to let go anything else that would take my energy away, even though those things might be considered ‘must do’s’ (my taxes are still not done), and I had to focus on what gives me energy.
And, by the way, don’t feel bad if you’re having trouble with this. Happy can be very challenging place to find – we’ve learned a lot in our lifetimes to stop us. (And don’t let me even start about where we’ve learned that happy or fun must wait until the work is done. Oy, oy, oy.)
But you will start to notice happy, just by giving yourself permission to notice. That simple. And then you will start to create Happy more often, when you know what that really is for you.
Little things, small moments, taking the time to notice the happies, and then taking time to create the happies: Some of you already know this has been my key method of looking after me this last many months. Asking ‘what would feel good and do-able right now?” “What would make me happy today?” “What would be fun?” “What would be funny?” “How can I make this fun/funny?” Those questions are always top of my mind. Yes, I’ve been practising the art of extreme ‘what feels good?” Sure, sometimes reading a book was the answer, or even doing pretty much nothing, because thinking or doing beyond that wasn’t all that do-able, but still I asked. Many many amazing moments, events, ahas, activities and laughter have been the result. As my daughter said when we sat on a beach one August day.. “What had potential to be a very crappy summer has turned into one of the nicest.”
A happy for me today: As I was driving (on my only outing these ‘white count is crashed and immune system can’t take exposure to any germs’ few days), I was thinking about the Happy concept. I drove into my daughter’s driveway and saw the living room window fully decorated with drawings taped up with a lot of masking tape, and felt pen drawings directly on the window… clearly all planned and decorated by two small children. I was smiling ear to ear. Happy: The creation, but also just imagining the wonder of small children as they created it.