Happiness. What does it mean? This question has been on my mind a great deal lately. So much so that I’ve spent time reading books on the subject (currently reading The Happiness Project) and watching happy-based documentaries. (Happy, directed by Roko Belic, was a great little flick. And it’s available on Netflix. Bonus!)
I don’t think this comes from a current lack of joy in my life. While I have what a consider to be a fair amount of stress, just like the next gal, I’m happy overall. Nope, I actually think much of my curiosity comes from recent moments of feeling deep amounts of happy. Small bursts of happy, for lack of a better description. Allow me to explain with a few recent examples.
Burst #1: I recently took an amazing Instagram class taught by Rhonna Farrer. I wasn’t able to find someone to attend with me and I was beyond swamped at work, so I almost bailed at the last minute. SO glad I didn’t. I loved the class and the ideas. But, more than that, I felt those overwhelming happiness bursts when I stuck around after class to meet new friends. I met the amazing owner of Persnickety Prints, Chari Pack, and Rick Maddox, an awesome marketing guy with Adobe. I also reconnected with a few old friends, which felt great! Though my conversations and interactions were brief, they left me with an intense feeling of happy on my drive home. A feeling that stuck with me for several days.
Burst #2: I love going to local shops in the towns I visit. Chat with the locals. Experience the way of life. Last week, I had the pleasure of doing just this in Portland, OR. If you haven’t had the chance to visit this part of the country, you should add to your bucket list. It is such a calm and kind place. Shop owners let you come in after they’re closed. They offer up engaging conversation. They seem to genuinely like what they’re doing and the opportunity they have to connect with customers. Love this! It made an impact. The more I shopped, the more I felt alive inside. Peaceful. Happy! Was it because I was shopping, which happens to be a favorite pastime of mine? Was it because I was meeting new and interesting people (another thing I adore doing)? Was it because I was in a new place seeing new things? Maybe it was a little of all of the above. Not sure. What I know is I LOVED the feeling I was left with, and I want to bottle it. Understand it. Feel it every. Single. Day.
|Some of the local shops I visited while in Portland. Mississippi is a delightful area to visit and experience the PDX flava!|
Burst #3: I was chatting with a new(ish) coworker. Nothing exciting or revolutionary. In fact, it was pretty stupid stuff. Stuff I think annoyed everyone else within earshot. We were discussing childhood TV. Specifically, Today’s Special and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. It got pretty silly after awhile, but it was so fun. I still think of that conversation and find myself laughing out loud. A giddy feeling I want to capture. (“What’s the deal with Mr. Rogers anyway? Why does he zip his cardigan all the way up, only to then zip it halfway back down?”—Yes, this is one of the comments made in that silly convo. Can you believe Dan remembered this about that show from our childhood? Sure enough. I YouTubed it, and there Mr. R was, zipping that cardigan up and then down again. Hahahaha!)
Burst #4: Thanks to Facebook, I recently saw a friend accomplish a dream. Kelly Purkey created a stamp kit for Simon Says Stamp. It’s adorable. And it’s clear she’s ecstatic about her fabulous accomplishment. Can you blame her? She works hard and it’s awesome her hard work is paying off for her in such a cool way. (WTG, KP!) This got me to thinking about others I know who’ve accomplished notable things in their lives. I’m blessed to know SO MANY accomplished people. Company owners, product designers, creatives, published authors, teachers, parents, and more! People who’ve turned something they love into a prominent part of their lives. Seeing this success... this joy... makes me happy! I’m talking, deep, take-my-breath-away happy. It gives me hope that I’ll one day take one of my many (MANY) ideas and turn it into something big. Something wonderful. People prove it can be done. Why not be one of those people?
|Kelly Purkey's Project Kit for Simon Says Stamp. Image by Kelly Purkey.|
Notes on Happy
“Happy,” the documentary I watched on Monday, had so many awesome things to offer that I eventually started taking notes (nerdy, but true!). Here is some of what it had to offer:
Practice cultivating happiness and compassion to transform the brain in very positive way.
Hmmm... practice cultivating happiness... that’s a new way of thinking for me. I never thought of happiness as a skill that required practicing. It makes sense though, don’t you think? We are always given a choice when it comes to how we react to any given situation. Sometimes it takes effort to choose to be happy. I suppose this is where the practicing comes into play. The more we work at actively choosing the happy, the more inclined we’ll be to naturally react in such a way.
The trick is to be authentically you. It’s a skill, which is no different than learning to play the violin.
A skill, eh? I suppose that’s why it takes practice. How skilled are you when it comes to being happy?
The things we love to do are the building blocks of a happy life. Play. Friends and family. Doing things that are meaningful. Having new experiences. Appreciating what we have. These are the things that make us happy. And they’re free.
They’re free! Don’t you love that? You don’t have to go out and buy the bursts. I find they come when you open your heart and your mind. Let go of prejudice. Let go of preconceived ideas. Simply let go and enjoy the moment, whether that’s meeting a new person, experiencing a new place, or trying a new thing. Let go and really experience.
With happiness, the more you have, the more everyone has!
Yes! This is my favorite! The more I have, the more YOU have, and the more we ALL have! How absolutely cool is that? No need to hoard. No need to compete. Be happy. Spread your happy. And watch as those around you, in turn, up their own happys. It’s a wonderful cycle.
A Few Final Thoughts a la Pollyanna
When I’m happy, I’m more aware. My memory is keener (which is huge when I struggle with short-term memory issues as part of my narcolepsy). I feel more grounded and in the moment. I feel more energetic. I feel more alive.
I want to model happy for Maggie. I want her to see and experience it so it becomes a natural way of life for her. I don’t want her to find herself at 32, actively trying to seek out the happy, as her mother is doing now. I want it to be so natural for her that she can’t imagine any other way of being.
|Nothing makes me happier than seeing my girl's happy soul bursting with joy!|
Okay, at this point (if you’re even still reading at this point), you may be thinking “enough with the Pollyanna (gosh, I love that movie!), Megan.” Fair enough, but I hope my sincerity is coming through. I mean these words. I don’t mean to come across as obnoxious. I realize life is hard. Trust me, after some of the experiences I’ve had in recent years, I totally realize this, but I don’t want the hard to get in the way of the happy. Can’t we be happy even when the going gets tough? After all, can one truly know happiness without their share of adversity? Sure, this may come across as The Glad Game, but that’s okay with me. I like that game. I want to win that game. What about you?
What are you doing to be happy today? Welcome the happy. Attract the happy. Be the happy! Do this, and watch the happy grow around you.