The Key to Happiness

If you’ve spent any time anywhere (whether online or in bookstores, etc.) looking at self-help material, you no doubt encountered probably dozens of titles about the ‘secret to happiness.’ It is something that we, as a society, endlessly struggle to try to find, spending probably millions of dollars on everything from books, CDs/mp3s, retreats, gurus, diets, exercise programs or personal trainers, spa treatments, clothes, drugs – you name it. In an amazon search I just did simply typing in “secret to happiness”, there were just over 6,000 results. I had no idea happiness was such a profitable market. And if you’ve spent any time here in blogland, you’ll find tons of New Agers promising that certain crystals or meditations or whatnot will get you there or an explanation of the achievement of happiness that reads like a doctoral thesis on quantum physics. If quantum physics is happy at you, fabulous! But I promise you don’t need to learn it if you don’t already study it to be happy.Now, in spite of being a joy-filled person by nature (for which I am enormously grateful), I still have a tendency to get in my own way. I still get cranky and moody and irritable and bitchy and just, well, lost. And while I have learned a lot – particularly over the course of the last 5+ years – one of the things I’ve learned is that I know very little. And I’ve reached a point where I am pretty okay with that. I’m happy to marvel at the mystery of the Universe and enjoy the part I play in it. There are, though, two things that I Know that I Know – the key to happiness being one of them – and it is my great joy to share them with you here today. In plain English. For free!

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

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1) What you focus on grows.

2) Gratitude is the key to happiness.

 

Yup. It’s that simple. It just figures that something so seemingly elusive is so simple to find. Now, note that I said simple – not easy. There’s a difference. Simple means uncomplicated. It is not the antonym for difficult.

 

As for the first one – the phrase ‘law of attraction’ probably springs to mind. I haven’t read any of Abraham Hicks material and I may be one of the few Pagans out there in the world who has not read “The Secret” – mostly because I’d already learned the principle from my Teacher. If you haven’t read either of these yourself, you don’t really need to if you just remember #1 up there (I know I personally have a hard time taking anyone who uses the word ‘vortex’ seriously, so if that’s you, too, you’re not alone). That’s the gist of it. Of course, if you want to do some reading, feel free! The bottom line is that the fundamental principle of ‘what you focus on grows’ is NOT froo-froo, New Age fluff. No, that part’s for real. I imagine if you take a hard look through your life and be painfully honest with yourself, you will find it to be true.

 

As for the second one – the expression of genuine gratitude is the fastest way to shift any negative or purely destructive energy and bring it into balance. Balance is our Natural, dynamic state. Everyone’s. When you connect with your Natural way of Being, happiness follows. When I express genuine gratitude, I direct my commentary to my particular conceptualization of the Divine (Momma and Papa), but don’t worry – we’re not going to leave the Atheists out there in the cold. Simply stating, “I am grateful for *fill in the blank*” totally works, as long as you’re genuine. And these don’t need to be earth-shaking sentiments. In fact, it’s being grateful for the little things that I’ve found just amps it up. Blue skies. Flowers that smell yummy. Coffee. Indoor plumbing. Stinky French cheese (I don’t have any in my fridge at the moment, but I’m grateful it exists in the world). Cigarettes. Hot water. African black face soap (it is the shit for combination skin). How it smells right after it rains. Coffee. Body glitter. Baby giggles (if you don’t know any babies, go to youtube). Youtube. Kittens. Deep, belly laughs. The internet. The color magenta. Picnics. Sleeping in. Really awesome sex. Traffic lights turning green right as I approach an intersection. Have I mentioned coffee?  Just try it. For two weeks, write down a minimum of 20 things you’re grateful for every day. Every day, no exceptions. And you need to be genuinely grateful for each and every thing you write down. If you have a hard time with that part, take a moment for each one and imagine what the world (or your world) would be like if that didn’t exist. I’d like to take a moment to remind you that I said this was simple, not easy.

 

If you manage your two weeks having been genuinely expressing gratitude for at least 20 things every day, I think you’ll find that at the end of your two weeks, you’ll be a hell of a lot happier than you are right now. And if you’re pretty happy now, imagine how much happier you’ll be incorporating this practice into your routine! And it’s cumulative! It just keeps building. Perhaps you’re remembering a part in the beginning of my post where I said I still get bitchy and cranky, etc. and wondering why you should buy into this stuff I’m saying if I still experience moments where I’m lacking happiness. Have you ever gone to a gym after either having never been to one or there being a pretty long lapse of time between visits? You head over to the free weights, pick up the 10, 20, or 50 lb-ers (some weight that you think would be manageable) and start doing reps. But your muscles aren’t accustomed to working that hard. They tire. Pretty quickly. And, by the way, you’re wearing a weighted suit when you do all this. You can only build that muscle so fast without your body shaking and collapsing in protest. It’s the same king of thing here. The weighted suit you’re wearing is all of the shit piled on top of who you really are, your True Self. The more you “work out,” the closer you come to Balance, the more you start to shed pieces of that suit which, in turn, makes working out easier, which then means you shed more of that suit, and it’s an amazing and magical cycle. It’ll kick your ass 100 ways to Sunday – I won’t lie about that – but if you persevere, you’ll get to where it is you want to be. And you can start it with the simple expression of genuine gratitude.

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Gardening of the soul

Oh, today is a good day!  I heard from one of my dear, fellow blogging friends informing me she had created for herself a new home out there in cyberspace. So, of course, I immediately skipped on over there and my heart leapt as I read her most recent post. She wrote of the need to feel rooted and also thriving on change, and somewhere deep within me came a cry, in orgiastic agreement, “Yes!” Yes, that epitomizes a huge part of who I am and how I want to dance through my life.

I’ve been craving something recently. It’s a something that I’m not quite sure I have words for. Part of it is soul-ful friendships, connections, and community. In “real life” but also here in blogland. The kind I can sink my teeth into. The kind that have depth. The kind that challenge me to grow beyond what I know of myself in this moment. Part of it is doing that work myself. Part of it is realizing the potential that lives within me that, until very recently, I have not been ready to connect with. And I’m not sure what else there is there, but there’s more.

I’ve known for a long time now that like attracts like. That’s not hard math. If I want to develop new friendships like the ones I mentioned above, then I need to be that kind of person, that kind of friend. I cannot sit here in my little corner of cyberspace and expect those kind of friendships to just happen. I need to open myself to them but then get the fuck out there and interact! So, when I went to Miss Janece’s new home to celebrate with her and welcome her there, I visited some of the blogs of people who had come to do the same thing I had for my friend. And what wonderful places and people I found in the process! I had no doubt ever that there were amazing people out there. Kindred spirits. Yeah! 

We just had Imbolc here at our house. Imbolc signals the end of winter, the very beginning of spring. The time of year where it’s time to start seriously thinking about what I want to plant in my life and myself this year. What do I wish to grow? I find my head spinning a bit because there are so many things buzzing around up here that it’s a little dizzy-making. And just like when planting a garden (which I’d love to do at some point), this is the time of year for tilling and prepping the soil. For turning it over, clearing the space, and getting rid of the debris and weeds that have shown up over the course of the winter.

There are some things I can feel in my belly that need attention. Some weeds that I have turned a blind eye to that I need to make decisions about. Do I want to continue to feed energy into finishing my post-Masters degree? Do I even want to pursue a career in the mental health profession? If I’m not so inclined, am I not inclined because of the obstacles I perceive as being in my way? Is this one more thing that I’m not going to complete because I’m better at starting things than finishing them? Is that statement accurate? Does my behavior reflect that pattern? Is it a sour grapes kind of situation or is it a reflection of my Truth? As you can see, I’ve got some work to do!

If you are so inclined to be doing similar work, then I wish you fruitful tilling and encourage you to uncover and follow your Truth, trusting that you and your path are unfolding as they should. Remember – nothing conquers fear like love and gratitude 🙂