Ruminating on Happiness

I want to write an article that gets published in a magazine like The Atlantic. Soon, like this year. And I have no idea how to do this. But there it is. This is what I want. Got any suggestions?

On another note I learned something new.

You know when sometimes you’re just washing the dishes or something and all of a sudden you feel deep sadness, like someone you love just died? (Okay, maybe it’s just me?) It’s awful. I used to get all worked up about it and try to figure out WHY? WHY AM I FEELING THIS WAY? And then I would have to try to figure out what or who was to blame.

Kyle Cease taught me in Evolving Out Loud that when you are experiencing the physical emotion of something – it is actually leaving already. And all you have to do it let it. Don’t grab it’s leg and beg it not to go.

Just breathe, and wait. I counted, and it actually takes less than 17 seconds for the feeling to go. I got the 17 seconds from the lady who channels Abraham, Esther Hicks. She said you only have to focus on a feeling for 17 seconds to bring more of that feeling into your life. So I figured that would work for letting it go too, and it did, for me. If you try it too, let me know if it worked that same or differently for you.

That got me wondering if I could think a thought that would make me feel happy. I tried it last night before bed. No luck. I couldn’t think of a single thing.

At breakfast this morning I mentioned my findings to my husband and he suggested that maybe thoughts don’t make you happy, maybe only being present in the moment in happy circumstances makes you happy. I considered that, but then remembered something else I learned recently.

Alison Armstrong taught me that if you are not over the line of “enough of what you need,” that thinking of things that normally make you feel happy will not create the feeling of happiness. It’s like a litmus test of what kind of shape you are in. I spent the day yesterday doing chores and caulking the baseboards in the kitchen and the mudroom (yeah, super fun). My husband took our children out for a bike ride and a hike along the escarpment so I could work. It was sunny and beautiful out and the only reason I was able to stay on task was because I really determined to be finished with the kitchen renovations. Plus, my nine-year old child has been a real displeasure to be around lately and absolutely everything has been feeling like a Kung-Fu fight, so going bike-riding with him was less appealing than doing renovations by myself. Quite a few times during the course of the day I craved a cigarette, and I quit something like 14 years ago. So, it makes sense I failed the test.

This morning I am well-rested, well-fed and clean. I didn’t have to argue with my younger son this morning and everyone is gone to their respective activities for the day so I have the time and mental space to write. Now I can remember what thoughts create happiness in me and what that feels like.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes writing my morning pages to remember that seeing other people feeling joy, forgiveness, and growing into more freedom brings me happiness. Witnessing people cooperate and help each other with compassion, kindness, and grace; and being on that team brings me joy. Hearing people sing and dance together, and singing and dancing with them, lifts my heart and brings tears to my eyes. Teaching and learning and growing with other people brings me satisfaction and hope. These things bring me my greatest joy.

I think that is why I have been enjoying Queer Eye on Netflix. Everything that is happening on that show is all about empowering people to forgive, grow, learn, and celebrate themselves and others. And, at the end of every episode, the team celebrates the person they have helped and how happy they are for them. The joy the cast derives from helping people is infectious.

That makes me wonder if I could change my mental habits. Could I, instead of delving deep into the sorrowful feelings produced by some thoughts, suck the juice of of my joyful thoughts instead? This might take some practice since I am so good at the opposite. I can squeeze the bitter juice out of a sorrowful thought like it was the last lime for a margarita.

Could I make a habit of being overjoyed about other people’s successes instead of being unimpressed with my own track record? Can I ruminate on happy thoughts of great things that are happening in the world, and produce more of THAT, than it’s opposite? I want to. I have a few ideas of how to make that happen but this is new territory for me.

If you have any suggestions of ways that you focus on happiness, please share them via the comments section. I look forward to hearing your ideas!


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