Working on happiness
In this post:
I share my views on happiness, as simple as that. Everybody has her own idea of what it is and what it does and how it comes about. I do too. Here you go.
People think that happiness is something that comes to you in the form of lucky circumstances, but happiness, which is a state of mind, is also a complicated dish full of the harmonious fragrance of different ingredients. And also like food, not everybody likes the same types of recipes all the time. I’m constantly thinking about happiness; having experienced directly how good is to feel happy, and especially if happy for nothing specific, I’m addicted to the feelings of ease and joy. I have said previously that I’m a generally happy person because I work hard at being happy, and also because I think happiness is natural state of mind and that having happy as my automatic set point has helped me develop other qualities like grit and optimism, good skills to have when inevitably I’ve had to deal with the less desirable aspects of reality.
So how do I work at being happy? Some times I take walks outdoors, specially when the weather is good. I walk at my own pace until I feel that live is worth living and that there is always hope. Some times it takes a longer walk, some times a few minutes it’s enough. I listen to my mood and I listen to my body and do what I can.
Other times I talk to an intimate friend. This one is a little tricky since my intimate friends and in three different time zones and none of them in mine. This requires an effort, and planning, and persistence. When everybody is busy and carrying on with whatever their own lives require, it is easy to find excuses not to connect. Some times I am craving to talk to one or all of these people that I trust and with I can be myself almost fully, but I know they are working, or out, or sleeping. Then I have to remind myself that a good conversation might or might not happen at any given time, but these friends of mine that are so special deserve the effort. Then, I write down in my to-do list: call this friend. Once it’s in the to-do list it is a contract with myself and I will succeed because I will keep on trying until I succeed in crossing out my items.
The best thing in the world is ice cream, the second best and almost first is greek-style, full fat yoghurt with fresh fruit and honey. Need I say more? My mouth likes them both equally but it’s only when I have the yoghurt that my body smiles and says thank you. For quick fix over a sad day, a cup of salty caramel ice cream. For a big, body spanning spark of joy, yoghurt, blueberries and honey.
Also, as I said in previous posts, I like to speak with random strangers. Nothing special, and most times no more than a polite exchange of greetings, and yet when the strangers are friendly, it is so enjoyable. I remember this time I had to stand in line for about an hour and a half and I struck a conversation with the woman who was in front of me in the line. I don’t remember what we talked about, I never knew her name and I doubt that I gave her mine, all I remember is the time passing happily and convivially as the line inched forward at a snail pace. My mind was pleasantly engaged and I completed my errand without being cranky or annoyed. That was many years ago in the era just before the smartphone. I don’t want to imagine the same circumstance in these times of screen isolation in which we live. Nonetheless, there are plenty of nice strangers out there, perhaps not to make intimate friendships with, but to exchange pleasantries when the circumstances require it and you are in well-illuminated and safe place to do so. To be sure there are plenty of nasty or dangerous strangers out there, and plenty of people that we know well that are nasty and/or dangerous. Distinguishing between them is an art form, a valuable skill, and a matter of mindfulness. Sometimes your body will tell you to smile and some other times it will tell you to run.
Those are some of the ways in which I work at my own happiness. I also use very little social media compared with other people of my same age and similar circumstances, kiss my husband several times a day just for fun, and talk to my cat when he stops for a little while and pretends to listen. Additionally, I draw, paint miniatures, and read mostly books that give me happy feelings, do yoga of the breath and meditation, and make fun of myself when I indulge in the occasional pity-party. If you are a frequent visitor in this blog you know that I also do several other things, I keep busy with things that I like.
Happiness is like a plant, you can cultivate it or you can kill it with your own actions and thoughts. That doesn’t always mean rainbows and unicorns, and it doesn’t always bear fruit; one cannot know what will come of it until one doesn’t give it a good, persistent, and purposefully joyful try.
Now your turn, how do you work at cultivating your own happiness? How about the happiness of those around you? Do you ever experience sympathetic happiness?
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