Happiness and the stuff it’s made of.
A happy life isn’t what most people think it is. It is not a life without challenge, loss, risk, frustration or sadness. Life contains all these things but offers so much more if we truly desire it and are willing to release it into our lives. It comes in unexpected moments and swells into lasting memories of being alive and human in a beautiful and loving world. Once you know it for yourself you can never ‘unknow’ it. Your central nervous system rewires and sets new patterns. You can go there as frequently as you wish. It is yours forever.
It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world believes or if beauty and love appear to be in deficit. It is your world that is real. Your life that matters. Your happiness that counts. Claiming happiness is really the only way the other world out there has a chance to change.
Here are just five minutes of happiness and the stuff it’s made of.
The pond had frozen in the night. That morning, light powdery snow whisked across the hard opaque surface and that’s when I noticed it. The ice had formed in small undulating ridges like the roof of your mouth or sand under water. I stopped what I was doing and looked. And looked some more. I wondered at the moment when the water became ice. When liquid became solid. When crystals formed and clustered and swirled and then in mid-rise in the wind were still.
The early morning light illuminated the window but little else in the room. I had just finished bathing my husband from a basin of warm water scented with lavender and put on a clean gown. Then his breathing stopped. I climbed into the hospital bed and snuggled into the familiar body as I had for more than twenty years. The suffering was over. Sweet release. In that moment my gratitude was greater than my grief. We were bound in love and peace.
The morning my son was born I was walking the corridor. The nurse had taken my baby to the nursery as part of her protocol. From the farthest point I heard him cry and rushed as quickly as I could on postpartum legs. Sure enough there he was in the midst of rows of clear plastic baskets tightly swaddled and crying. And then in amazement I realised that I had recognised a voice I had never heard before.
Submerged until my eyes were just above the water line, I took in the expanse of clearest aqua that merged into sapphire as it spread to the horizon. I turned until I floated effortlessly in the sea, buoyant in a warm salty womb. The laughter and playful calling from the beach was muted. I, an integral element of life, gently ebbed and flowed grazing the stones and sand that rolled on the same rhythms of the sea silently and eternally beneath me.
Every time I hear it I get a flicker in my heart. It’s not the hearty laugh at a joke but the caught off guard quick laugh of innocent pleasure. A chuckle more like. It’s a sound as sweet and familiar to me as his kiss or caress. It’s happiness out loud – his happiness – and that is as dear to me as any treasure I could imagine. It makes me smile even though I don’t always hear what inspired the spontaneity. I am happy too. And grateful that I am the one here to hear it.
With the outer world as our teacher we learned to be unhappy. We were not born that way. My synonyms for happy also include joy, delight, bliss, fun, enthusiasm, pleasure, creativity, freedom, kindness, appreciation, devotion, acceptance, sincerity, authenticity, and reverence. With these references, there are so many opportunities for happiness in any given hour no matter what your circumstance. Can’t feel it? Look up. Let the sky in whatever mood of blue or grey or infinite dark look back at you. Feel your rightful place on the planet. Let your heart open and remember that your natural state is happiness. Right now. This minute.