Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happiness when ....?

Do you ever find yourself playing the "I know I'll be happy when .....(fill in the blank: I've finished my project, I have a new job, I'm done with school, my divorce is finalized, my client has paid me, I've figured out what my life purpose is, etc., etc.)?

My husband and I were talking late last night about how deadly this game can be (meaning you can miss out on the simple, day-to-day joys of life if you get too caught up the "future game").

I went in and out of this mindset last year as I rode the "start up mode" waves, busily launching and birthing a new national women's program. When I got stressed out by deadlines or demands from others and wasn't being present or even fun to be around, I would sometimes get lured into the false promise of "but I know I'll be truly happy and stress-free, when ...."

What makes you happy? (I challenge you: grab a piece of paper and a pen and write out the top five things that come to mind.) I find tremendous joy and satisfaction in curling up by the fire and playing a game with my son and husband, making a great meal and serving it to friends or family, hiking in nature and really appreciating its beauty and mystery, hearing a piece of music or seeing a dance performance that moves me deeply or feeling enough spaciousness in my day and schedule to be able to stop and connect with friends or associates I come in contact with throughout the day.

While I may feel brief satisfaction after completing a large project or even enjoy the momentary high that comes from being asked to do something new/big/fun, these things don't permanently impact how happy I am--and, sometimes, they adversely affect my joy and well-being (particulary if they involve more work on my part that results in less downtime with my family).

More and more, I'm realizing that the less I feel I "have to do," (expectations!) and the simpler my life is, the happier I am. I think deep down, we ALL feel this way. Even though this message is the exact opposite of what the media and in many ways, society in general, would have us believe.

Does the answer (to the quest for happines) really revolve around simplicity? I'd love to hear your reflections on this topic.

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