Is it habit?
Is it a divine right?
Is it just luck?
I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment and happiness.
Now I’m not an expert. And I don’t mean to say that I’m miserable, I mean I haven’t studied positive psychology or any form of happiness studies! But, probably like you, I’ve read a lot of books. And I mean; a LOT of books on happiness.
Every day it takes me by surprise; I want to share a few stories with you that add to the conversation about contentment and happiness.
This week I’ve been incredibly busy juggling work and a big party we’re celebrating in our home. There have been some pretty scary moments; moments of angst, worry and stress. My home was a building site for about 10 days; with painting, fixing and organizing all around me. Peace returned at a crucial moment; it was when the tools, rubble and garbage were out and I got a chance to clean, tidy and put the furniture back in place. As my surroundings became aesthetic again, and the dust and dirt disappeared, my sanity returned.
I got to realize that my environment is key to my happiness. The tidier my home and office are; the more peaceful, clear minded and calm I feel.
With a ‘to-do’ list the length of both my arms, there were moments where I felt it was way, way beyond me. Finally I sat down and wrote it all down. Not just what I needed to do, but when and how; every task with a time frame and it was all organized and even cross-referenced. The food shopping and preparation was listed and then broken down to sub-lists according to days that everything needed to be done. The daily task list works the same way.
Now I’ve always known that I work well with deadlines, in fact, I always create false deadlines in order to up my productivity. This week it was in overdrive and I have to admit, it’s been incredibly satisfying. I got to realize, the more I physically acknowledge the stuff I get done (by writing it down and ticking it off), the more I get done. Very cool!
And finally my focus has been pretty challenged this week. It’s easy to get carried away with the mechanics of getting through the jobs that need to be done. Every now and again I realized that someone needed something that wasn’t on any list. It was usually a child (though not always) and it was resolved with a hug, a quiet chat or a nice cup of tea.
I realize that my intention and state of ‘being’ is crucial to my own sanity and that of all the people around me. I can’t do anything if I end up ignoring, hurting or simply not being there for the people who matter most. There would be no point to any of it if I couldn’t be present for them.
One by one, people near and far have gathered or cancelled. Each cancellation feels like a massive shock at first, but then has been met with recognition and internal reconciliation. Once again my intentional focus is on what it all means and that’s what leaves me feeling satisfied and quite happy.
It has been a week of massive learning.
I realize that this week is simply the microcosm of every week. I am often pulled in every direction by demands and distraction, it’s easy to get lost and get unhappy. I am often challenged by having to keep up with everything, that’s usually when I forget to slow down and just be.
There were moments this week when I was so far from balanced and happy; it sent me straight back to the awareness and practices that bring me closer to what is possible.
Happiness and contentment are a practice. It doesn’t happen by accident, it’s not just good luck. When you intentionally create the space, mindset and practice of contentment and happiness, then you have a new story to tell!
What’s your practice?