As I was taking my walk this morning, a common thought arose again. “What really makes me happy?” Ok, so I’m not Socrates, but these kinds of questions pop up occasionally. I plead the 5th., that far more often thoughts about do I want chicken noodle soup or clam chowder for lunch enter my Atari 8-Bit sized brain. The question first originated with me when I was working as a counselor. Clients would come to me and say they were unhappy and wanted me to help them gain more happiness. Eventually, we would get to where I would ask them what happiness meant to them, and once we could come to some common understanding of that term, which varied for every person, we could talk about how to achieve it. Trying to keep it simple, we eventually talked about how the person could get more of what they wanted and less of what they didn’t want. The doing always proved to be the hardest part.
Happiness – Joy – Contentment – Peace – Bliss – Jubilation – Ecstasy
All good words. Joy seems the one that is most lasting and fitting for me. I find joy most often in nature. Yesterday morning as I was walking, I had just turned a corner in a neighborhood and looked up to see a grown coyote trotting down the street towards me. (This is Arizona, coyotes are everywhere) He saw me and stopped, I saw him and stopped. He wanted to keep going but was neither aggressive nor impatient. His look was guarded curiosity. I moved away to the side of the street, and he trotted past me, and I bid him a safe journey. Why do I tell this story? Seeing that coyote brought me joy that lasted all day and remains even now as I write this. Although there are those who see coyotes as a nuisance, I see them as beautiful and clever creatures who live hard lives. I often experience those same feelings when I’m walking in the desert and see a Harris hawk, a cactus wren, or even a rattlesnake. Nature brings to me what I’m most seeking from life.
There is nothing new or radical about what I’ve just said. What I find uncommon is a person who consistently works to add more of what they most enjoy, what brings them joy, while attempting to reduce what brings stress, worry, unhappiness or anger. In part, I think it is because we haven’t truly identified what we want, perhaps more accurately, what we need. We have been fed lies all our lives that having more, better, bigger, newer, faster, prettier, and fancier will bring us a never-ending romp on a tropical beach, sipping a gallon sized margarita, while strutting our perfect never growing old bodies in the newest fill-in-the-fashion-brand-of-the-day must have swimsuit. I missed out on the day all that was being passed out, because I’ve gotten old, my body resembles a porpoise more than “The Rock,” and when I romp, it’s usually to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
So what are we going to do, gang? It takes effort and focus to follow through on getting what we need from life. I’d suggest we stop and consider our Bliss, our Joy, our Happiness and spend more time and energy trying to fully enjoy those moments and far less time hoping to win the bazillion dollar lottery so that we can have it all and live out our lives with every toy we are told we need to have.
I’m going to try; I hope you do too. Go Well.
“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” Albert Einstein
“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.” Plato
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