We all work and live for the notion of happiness. But what does happy really mean, and how do you really get there? Do you wake up some days asking yourself:
- Why (the f*) am I working so hard?
- When is it my turn?
- Why am I so tired all the time?
- Why can’t I give myself a break?
Does this sound familiar?
Add to this the constant feeling of fatigue, unable to get to sleep, unable to rest…
I know this pattern all too well. In fact, it’s when I become aware of this inner narrative that I begin to notice that my body is trying to tell me something… something very importand (it swears to get my attention)… if only I would slow down long enough to tune in and listen. And not only listen, but value what it’s trying to say, and value myself enough to care about it.
You see, there’s a treadmill we hop onto which validates and rewards us for accomplishments, for completing tasks, for achieving outcomes, for kicking goals. There is no ‘reward’ or recognition offered for taking a break, for resting, for recharging our own batteries so that we have more of our ‘best’ selves to give.
Why the f* not?!!
I was raised in a small working class suburb called Richmond, in Melbourne to very hard working immigrants. They worked hard, night and day, to provide a roof over my head and basic food and essentials for their family. I learned from my primary role models, that life is hard and you have to work hard to be happy.
But is that really true?
What does happy mean to you?
For me, it does not mean running on empty, chasing a never ending list of growing tasks and goals. Happy is not feeling exhausted at the end of each day with no energy to play with my children. Happy is not collapsing into bed without telling my family members how much I love and appreciate them in my life. Happy is not feeling like I’m never doing enough, I never have enough, and I’m not enough!
Back to the question. So what does happy mean to you?
For me, happy means dancing through life with inner calm and harmony, no matter what is going on around me. I intentionally chose the word ‘dance’ because I love dancing, and also because there are days I can flow with grace, and other days when I’ll want to up the pace a little, whilst remaining calm and present in the dance. Happy means appreciating the moments, the opportunities, the small wins, the momentary delights of sights, sounds and smells. Happy means counting my blessings, not my stresses. Happy means pausing each morning and evening with a smile to say ‘thank you’ for life and this breath. Happy means seeing beyond the illusions to appreciate the hidden lessons and deeper truths beneath our trials and challenges. Happy means realising how much love I have in my heart – footprints that remind me of connections that are never lost through time and space. Happy means growing and learning new things and appreciating the journey. Happy means hanging out with my kids, playing with my dogs, playing the drums, meditating… (not all at the same time, of course). Happy means sitting in the sun and feeling warmth on my skin. Happy means taking a nature walk and feeling awe and inspiration from ‘life’ all around me. Happy means resting when I need rest and loving myself enough to allow the time for rest for pleasure too. Happy means reading a book that elicits curiosity, watching a brilliant sunrise, delighting in the texture of my garden, seeing the face of a friend, watching the changing colours of the sunset, marvelling at the night sky filled with brilliant stars…
I could write forever about what happy means to me. But what about you? Perhaps you may take my invitation to answer these questions:
- What do you work so hard for?
- What does happy mean to you?
I’d love to hear from you and know what you came up with. Drop me a line or share your thoughts with me in comments below.
Until next time, may you pause to appreciate the gift of life, the gift you are in this world, the gift of this present moment, and the value of gratitude and rest to recharge and care for you.
PS: If you’d like some handy practical tips for setting up a space to support you to meditate at home, check out a colleague’s really cool resource