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Posts tagged ‘Happiness’

Two Ways

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” – Richard Wagner

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Einstein

There is an innate joy in children, a natural smile bursting from within, rooted firmly in the soul and spirit. It never goes away but time and experience bury it as we succumb to the ways of the world. When we return to this place of optimism, joy and light, suddenly everything becomes a miracle, blessings abound.

“Thin places assure us that what we can see is not all there is, that within the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us.”— Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons, Jan Richardson

Blessings and miracles are woven into our ordinary days, amidst a pandemic, politics, struggling relationships, hidden in plain sight. Our most important and only job is to notice them. In quiet meditation and reflection, gratitude, grace and awareness ensue, a full accounting of our life, an awakening.

“The best blessings awaken our imaginations. In places of difficulty, struggle, or pain, blessings beckon us to look closely rather than turn away. In such places, they challenge us not to accept how things are but to dream of how they could be transformed. They invite us to discern how God might be calling us to participate in bringing this transformation to pass.”— Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons, Jan Richardson

 

Happy Hour

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Our daily ritual of going to the dog park invites joy and delight in the ordinary. When I turn left on Larpenteur Avenue, they know the destination and perk up in anticipation. With enthusiasm and excitement, they pull me down the hill to get into the park to run off leash, greet other dogs and then return to me to begin ball throwing and exploring activities.

When we go in the morning, we are usually by ourselves and they pal around searching for left behind balls and checking out the scents from previous visitors. When we go at dusk, the place is bustling with dogs letting out a day of energy, chasing each other and running in circles. It’s happy hour for dogs, a party every time.

When get bound in a busy, efficient “to do” list mindset, we need to break the meaningless grind with play, wondering and wandering to create meaning and purpose to being.

Rituals, practices and open spaces are ways to embed joy and meaning into daily living. A trip to the dog park, snowshoeing, reading and writing, cross country skiing on a fresh layer of snow are invitations back to self, to fill the well so the “doing” is not so futile.

Separate your being from your doing. No ego, release attachment to work, approval, rules, judgment and assumptions. Enter quiet so you can hear your intuition and follow your internal compass. Nothing to prove, no comparison or competition, no one to outrun. Savor simple moments, return to home to yourself early and often. Sacred, off-leash, ordinary moments.

It’s happy hour somewhere. Start running in circles, dancing with delight.

“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore

Trail Management and Blazing!

“There is no glory in star or blossom till looked upon by a loving eye; There is no fragrance in April breezes till breathed with joy as they wander by.” – William Cullen Bryant

It’s important to establish routines, rituals and daily practices to focus our attention, effort and time to create habits to reach goals, check off resolutions. Discipline, repetition and commitment are the ingredients of progress, growth and fruition.

In addition to the mechanics of “trail management” which include plans, goals, actions, discipline, accountability and efficiency, we also need to integrate “off trail” adventures to find joy, play, fun and magic. “Trail blazing” is messy, iterative, inconsistent, inefficient exploration that fosters imagination, creating new patterns, connections and deeper ways to see the world. Life balance comes with the integration of mechanics and magic in our daily life.

For the past nine months, almost every Sunday morning I’ve done a long run as a part of marathon training. After completing the marathon in October, I’ve continued the “Sunday practice” to stay in shape, albeit not as many miles or structure as marathon training. Jeanne would meet me with water and join me for the last 4-5 miles.

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth

This morning, we decided to break the Sunday routine, because we had the opportunity to walk with Bob at Como. One of Jeanne’s superpowers is to meet and connect with people who soon become fast friends. She “picked up” Bob, an 82 year old sweet soul who walks 1.6 miles around Como every day and has for years. Bob’s going to Arizona for a few months so he asked us if we were coming to Como today to say good-bye. Rather than a quick “hi” in passing, we opted to walk with him to enjoy conversation and connection. We stopped four times to take a break. It was the slowest and most important workout of the month.

We were wise enough to open the gift of connection, conversation and time over plans and routines. We went snow shoeing after to get an additional work out. Today we chose both trail management but more importantly trail blazing. That decision is not only is good for the body, but for the mind, spirit and soul, our whole being.

As you look at the schedule for the week filled with meetings and “trail management” activities, make sure that you start booking some “trail blazing” time to wander, to laugh, to add meaning to all of the activity. Find the joy in the JOurneY.

Now, off to do some more trail blazing tennis ball chasing activity with with Abby and Sasha in the woods. Cast light, chase joy.

Clear the Deck, Burn the Ships

“It’s never too late in life to have a genuine adventure.” – Robert Kurson

“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” – George Eliot

When I got new floors in Spring, I donated a lot of items and only put back what I really wanted into my house, leaving space, organizing and eliminating piles. My goal is to have my basement and garage fully decluttered and organized by spring.

Each day, I organize a shelf, create a file rather than a pile and chip away one step at a time. I’ve collected a lot through the years plus items from my parent’s and Aunt’s house after my Dad and Aunt passed. At the time, I couldn’t part with the items, but now realize that they are not required for me to remember them since they remain in my heart, voice and stories.

As I am decluttering physical spaces, I am noticing that it creates a sense of order in my mind. I can find things easier and am not filling space with new stuff recreating clutter. Not fully a minimalist but on the path to deeper meaning which equates to more with less.

Clearing spaces naturally leads to the clearing of the mind. If we are willing to clear the shelves in our thoughts and narratives, we expose old thinking, limiting beliefs, “should” lists, “others expectations of me” lists, people pleasing habits that no longer and never served our becoming and coming home to ourselves.  It isn’t as easy as cleaning a shelf, but the journey is worth the destination. As you unravel trappings of ego, vulnerability and fear, you create space for expectation, joy, creativity, renewal, light and freedom.

And the journey both ends and begins when you arrive in a “new world” and “burn the ships.” In 1519 when Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in the New World, he ordered the burning of the ships signaling that there was no turning back. For King and Country has a song called Burn the Ships:

“Burn the ships, cut the ties
Send a flare into the night
Say a prayer, turn the tide
Dry your tears and wave goodbye

Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon our heartache, yeah
So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships
And don’t you look back”

Until we are willing to “burn the ships,” we will keep returning to the past, assuming the future is a continuation and replay of what was. Clear the deck in all spaces, keep the lessons and burn the ships.

Cling to nothing so you can embrace everything.

Better Days = Better Life

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth

According to research, 40% of our happiness relies on our thought patterns and behaviors, 10% our circumstances and 50% our genes. If we focus on the 40% in our control, we may also be able to shift our perspective on our circumstances, making it 50% in our hands to make better days. And better days = better life.

Sonja Lyubominsky, The How of Happiness offers ten ways to boost happiness.

  1. Practice gratitude – list three things that you are grateful for each day (three of mine are in the photo);
  2. Be kind – assume the best in others and show empathy. You never know what someone is going through and you can be that beacon of light that pulls them through;
  3. Practice optimism – stop the spiral of complaining, comparing and criticizing and fill that space with imagination, play and positivity. Flip worst-case scenario thinking to best-case scenario;
  4. Avoid rumination – let it go. When thoughts bounce in your head like a pinball machine, stop and ground yourself in the present. The past is done, move on.
  5. Physical exercise – training for a marathon which turned into a virtual marathon kept me focused this year. You don’t need to run a marathon. Getting out every day into nature and moving your bones is good for your soul;
  6. Meditation – I’ve tried meditation on and off over the years and it wasn’t until I downloaded the Insight Timer app that it stuck – 80 consecutive days and counting. Download it – 5-10 minutes in the morning and meditative music to fall asleep to will shift your very foundation;
  7. Religious/spiritual observance – I strive for deep faith and meaning beyond myself. It’s the anchor, the rock that has held my hand through life and particularly valuable this year. No preaching, just fact – God’s holding all of us, let Him;
  8. Forgive others – we free ourselves when we forgive others. Let it go and live your life;
  9. Pursue goals – set goals and develop the steps to get there. The world needs you to bloom and give away your gifts and talents;
  10. Savor – stop the monkey mind and be fully present in this moment and allow joy to soak in. Each of us can find things to be grateful for. Gratitude shifts our energy and attention and lifts our spirit.

You find what you are looking for so look for light, joy and laughter, available to all of us if we choose to partake.

No Strings Attached

“There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free.” – Walter Cronkite

We tell ourselves to “let go” or “let go and let God,” but then we don’t fully trust the process or God. We create a safety net, a back-up plan. Like a yo-yo, we let it go but keep a string tied to it so it keeps coming back at us. Letting go means cutting the string and releasing it fully.

Until we actually let go of past hurts, unforgiveness, offense, disappointment, judgment, fear and assumptions, they will continue to come back to ensure that the future is a replica of the past and today is lost gathering stones that weigh us down, stuck in the abyss of false narratives and comfort of justification.

When we let go, no strings attached, we create a space for gratitude, delight, awe, transformation, joy, peace and freedom.

Rewrite your story by changing the narrative. The first step is to actually let go and take one step into new territory, into the wide-open space of possibility found beyond and within each of us when we dare to release what was to move into what can be.

Assume the best in others and yourself and cut the strings that bind. Move on, adventure ahead.

“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.” – Voltaire

Light Burns Fog

“Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.” – Plutarch

“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.” – Henri Matisse

On my run this morning, it was difficult to see too far ahead with the looming fog and damp cold. As I was finishing, the sun started to burn through the fog. Light always burns off the fog of uncertainty, negativity and judgment.

Cling to the light of hope, faith and resilience, especially now when the fog is thick with ongoing pandemic uncertainty, a mean season of dirty politics on both sides and hatred rooted in stereotypes rather than reality.

It was a beautiful end to the day with sun shining bright and brilliant. Choose light. Never take optimism for granted or underestimate her power to transform the world. Actively choose light over the fog.

On my way out for a walk tonight, my neighbor told me that she had the police over today because someone shredded her American flag and she was afraid. Stop the rhetoric and hatred! History lesson – the very first amendment is free speech. Speak yours and allow others to speak theirs without judgment, shaming or violence.

Go vote. Regardless of the results of the election in November, live a good life each day by contributing your best and offering kindness, understanding and empathy. Enough is enough. Build a life of your own that you will be proud of when you have to take account for it and stay in your own lane.

We have enough fog. Cast light.

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom – and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”- Benjamin Franklin

Reflection

“I think that all things, in their way, reflect heavenly truth, the imagination not least.” – C. S. Lewis

“God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.” – Dag Hammarskjold

The blues are bluer, the bright is brighter.  Reflect and look for the good. Look for radiance, grace and beauty. It’s in you and all around.

“We all find joy and radiance and a reason to move on even in the most dire of circumstances. Even in chaos and madness, there’s still a beauty that comes from just the vibrancy of another human spirit.” – Ishmael Beah

Choose

“If you want to be happy, be.” – Leo Tolstoy

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

Happiness is a choice, a daily one. Regardless of circumstances, others and our own wandering aimless thoughts, we can go deeper within and rise above. Be mindful with your intentions and actions. Hope and conviction beyond the obvious into the unseen.

It’s that simple and that complex. Children and dogs have mastered it. The student really is the teacher. Learn the lesson. Do the work. Choose happy.

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” – Helen Keller

Use Your Imagination

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” – Dr. Seuss

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

There are many quotes from my day with Liam today. My favorite one is “You have to use your imagination.” Well isn’t that an underused muscle. My worry, complaint, uncertainty, judgment, work too much, multitasking and consternation muscles are very strong. They get a lot of use, overuse actually.

This weekend, I am going to “imagination bootcamp” with my camp counselor Liam and his capable assistants Abby and Sasha. Two trips to the playground, a pizza party and three ball throwing practices later, it is a good start to bootcamp. What’s next? Toy Story 2 snuggling next to my best pal of course. Tomorrow – Como, swimming, tennis ball hitting and some Disney movies later, there should be many lessons to be learned.

This is a no work, no worry weekend. Let the games begin. Imagination, look out, we’re coming for you!

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” – Joseph Joubert

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