Mindfully gratefully happier.
That’s what am I.
Let me explain.
My Happiness Project Review
April came and went as I reviewed – in depth – the first six months of my Happiness Project.
I carefully inspected every theme and every action steps. As I did so, I very promptly realized I had tried to achieve too much too fast.
At the onset of my project, I had carefully selected over a dozen themes. Additionally, many of my subjects had multiple action steps and apparently, I wanted to achieve the entire project by “tomorrow.”
Humans can be so impatient and, in my eagerness, I definitely was hasty.
In this case, one of my obstacles was burnout. This burnout was made evident as I carefully reviewed my themes.
Weariness and I had previously been introduced. More specifically, we had already met each other on more than one occasion.
Each time, in the aftermath, I was left a bit frazzled and lacking “oomph.”
This instance was no exception. If you quickly glance at the summary of my first sixth month — March — it is evident I completed few action steps.
Was I Mindfully Gratefully Happier?
My slacking-off was not due to lack of desire. I still had plenty of enthusiasm for the Project.
The conundrum was this: I had too many proverbial plates spinning in the air at one time.
Invariably, gravity took hold.
Despite the fact I — now — lacked the energy of the early months, peculiarly, my devotion to the Project had not waned.
It’s a fair question as most conditions which cause boredom or fatigue are usually enthusiastically abandoned.
In my case, my Happiness Project had been a vast success. I was gratefully mindfully happier.
Happy is Me
I had indeed encountered — and embraced — newfound happiness while my daily circumstances had remained virtually unchanged. I was still living in the same house, (happily) married to the same man, same kids, same grandkids, same life.
I still had laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, orthodontic appointments to chauffeur the kids to and fro. Thus, my list went on.
Why was I happier despite feeling weary?
My answer is simple: I have finally learned to bloom where I am planted. A process which hasn’t always been effortless or linear.
If pressed, I have much to gripe about as grumbling is a favorite past-time of the human race. Expounding on all the wrongs while omitting the rights is not rare. People are wired to expect the other shoe to drop at any moment.
This expectation may have had its benefits…maybe…at some time in history. I think it mainly clogged up the big picture while making us unable to see the silver lining.
I am not knocking bellyachers. As I mentioned above, I have readily participated in this activity on occasion. I suspect I am bound to do so anew in the future.
It takes training and practice to purposefully change our brain’s proclivity to negativity. Afterall, my cranium’s job is to keep yours-truly safe, and it is very efficient at what it does.
We — erroneously — feel that if we expect bad (which is bound to rear its ugly head at some point), we will be “prepared” when it lands on our doorsteps. Therefore, it will hurt less.
Ha! What a joke.
We can’t prepare for pain.
In the meantime, when we try, we lose sight of the present. Incidentally, the Now is the only moment in which we can genuinely feel happy.
Embarking on a Happiness Project has spurred me to take actions and to alter my thinking. Or, more precisely, it has been my catalyst to change the way my brain prefers to function.
Who’s the Boss anyway?
In this case, I am.
This process has been exhilarating — and sometimes challenging — while being remarkably rewarding.
I have accomplished much.
Mindfully Gratefully Happier?
What has caused me the most happiness are the changes in me rather than the action steps accomplished. Two things stand out the most: my commandments and mindfulness.
Commandants such as “say yes, ” and “be Florence” have been short of magical. Likewise being mindful has aided me to be fully present. No, I am not “present” all the time, but I am far more present than I used to be. I am blossoming and being nourished.
I feel blessedly alive.
Adopting a more intentional mindset is good for the soul. Allowing ourselves to be seen as we are is also good for the soul.
Life is very short.
Shorter for some than for others. None of us know when our Time will come, even though we all know it is coming.
While I am here, I want to enjoy it all. Yes, even the painful or dull moments which scream at me “you are very much alive.”
Don’t get me wrong. I abhor pain. It scares me. I am well acquainted with suffering.
There is no way to quantify pain nor should we try. Pain is pain, and we don’t get badges of honor for suffering more. Nor do we lose brownie points for suffering less. Pain is not a sick contest where there are winners and losers. It is distributed equally to all. It is only the way it is “packaged” which changes from person to person.
Can’t we acknowledge we all suffer, and we all feel pain without feeling the need to rate it?
Allow me to continue.
Suffering and Joy
I was saying I know suffering. Life did not spare me. She — Life — spares none of us. As our physical form is unique so is our life, and its imprint on us.
I hate pain in all forms. However, I acknowledge it is an integral — and possibly necessary? — part of the human experience.
Dr. Brene Brown, in one of her teachings, delves into this subject with far more eloquence and clarity than I do. She speaks of our tendency to anticipate pain even while we are experiencing joy. In her speech, she is gracious enough to name the antidote: gratitude.
Gratitude is the key which takes us out of the prison of the “what ifs” into the kingdom of the “what is.” I can most certainly attest to the truth of this statement. Gratitude does act akin to a magic potion of sorts which short-circuits our negative cycles.
Yes, as you have, I have suffered, but in reality, I find much more to be joyful about.
Second Honeymoon Baby
This fact was driven home when hubs and I were in Lake Tahoe to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary back in May.
I think it was our second time around the lake. I had connected my iPod to the car audio system via Bluetooth, and we were listening to some music.
I have songs on my iPod solely because Hubs loves them and they remind me of him. I was playing some of those songs interspersed with some old favorites. Either way, we were singing to the tunes in unison smiling like two love-sick teenagers.
It was a privilege to witness my husband’s joy. In those moments of total and complete unity, I felt so connected to him and our breathtaking environment. I felt utterly present. Alive. So, here.
When Time Stops
We were in a happiness bubble and I intended to relish it all to the fullest even if….yes, if something bad happened, if the car broke down, if…if…if.
I did not want to cower in front of what life may decide to dish out in the next instant. NOW was our time and by golly, I was going to drink it in. Swim in it. Drown in it. The music seemed sweeter, The sky bluer. It was as if all my senses were on hyper-alert but, in a good way.
It was marvelous and magical.
Mindfulness, gratefulness, and authenticity are a powerful combination.
Yes, we are back full circle at the feet of my “mindfully gratefully happier” statement.
While my action steps are an extension of these practices (mindfulness and gratefulness), my happiness is not incumbent on my “doing.” My joy is rooted in my “being.”
Being open to life in the moment.
Little by little, I can sense I am being transformed by these new habits.
At this point, I could so easily mourn the fact I have wasted so much time “wishing” or “griping.” Nevertheless, I choose not to indulge in such behaviors. Instead, I am grateful I know better, today.
As Maya Angelou so aptly said: ” when you know better, you do better.”
Mindfully Gratefully Happier: Perpetual Happiness?
Yes, I am happy, but this does not mean I am continuously blissful. I don’t believe it is possible to live in a perpetual state of euphoria — nor is it desirable. Moreover, I am not blind to the suffering of others. Their suffering impacts me emotionally.
What I believe is this: despite my circumstances, I can find a state of contentment and in its midst, joy.
I can’t say I have “arrived.” I have not. However, I can say my vision has cleared, and I am exercising my gratitude and mindfulness muscles on a regular basis. Likewise, I strive to live intentionally — not perfectly.
I admit I envy those who seem in a constant state of “okay.”
And, most definitely at peace.
The individuals are rare.
My goal is to continue to practice and when I fall, to dust myself off, laugh at myself– or cry if I must — and move on.
Life is also too short to take myself too seriously or, likewise, to waste time whining over my shortcomings and failures. I don’t have time for this. I have a life to live and savor.
In May, I decided to pick one theme: clean and re-organize. Put some order back in my life as everything has a tendency to go back to a state of chaos. I also resolved to grasp with both hands everything which presented itself and could be fun and nourishing.