Finding happiness is something that interests an awful lot of people.
Putting the word “happiness” into Google keyword tool shows 5,000,000 “global monthly searches” for the word.
On Merriam-Webster.com – an online dictionary and thesaurus - the word happiness is currently in the top 10% of lookups.
So we are definitely interested in finding happiness and the online searches are probably just the tip of the ice berg reflecting lifelong searches for that elusive feeling.
In some ways the online searches reflect our notion that happiness is something to be found “out there somewhere”, like the:
these can all be goals which we feel will contain our lasting happiness.
I remember years ago putting my life on hold in many ways to study for a professional qualification.
I used the vision of finally getting the qualification as a lure to help me deal with what I found difficult.
I promised myself that I would be “happier” when the “pain” of putting life on hold was over. When I finally got there it was true,
That satisfaction then
I now see this journey as being like crossing a wide desert.
In this "desert world" water equals happiness.
An oasis with water is where all that happiness lies – get to the next oasis and you will find it.
But you must move on and bear the pain of the scorching sun between the pools of happiness - oasis to oasis.
So what has a journey from oasis to oasis taught besides developing a “heroic” ability to put up with being somewhat less than happy for lots of the time on the journey?
It’s this - buy a canteen, fill it with water and use it to sustain you on your journey between oases.
How to “fill the canteen” is obviously unique to each of us but a good starting point is to try and pay more attention to the seemingly little things that give you even a taste of finding happiness.
You may feel that these little things have little to do with your real life right now but they give you a sense of consolation even when the going gets tough.
You might recognise:
Oh! I can hear you say "that's nice but I'm far too busy; get real".
And the good news is that by paying more attention to them it is possible to allow them to grow and “fill your canteen”.
You could be happy by paying more attention to the little things; but doing this is the hard bit.
Our minds are usually full of the everyday rush to;
achieve at work, look after our kids and try to deal with the all the noisy fears generated by our way of life.
Mindfulness is a way of calming this often run-away mind chatter and allows a space where the important “little things” can be allowed to grow.
Mindfulness is about stopping – for a little time each day- and allowing things to be as they are in your life right now.
It’s about not making the phone call, not watching TV not running on that errand not worrying about tomorrow just for a little while each day. Be with yourself for a while and your world around you.
Stop for that short time, watch your breath and allow yourself to meditate on the “little things”; perhaps that calm feeling you get from that piece of music or the joy you feel from your child’s laughter – really allow these feelings to be and they will grow.
“Mindfulness can also help us to appreciate feelings such as joy, peacefulness, and happiness which often go by fleetingly and unacknowledged”.
So there is a way of carrying happiness around with us and not waiting for that big goal to be achieved to enjoy the feeling.
And the good news is that mindfulness does work – but you will have to work at it.
You will feel frustration, you may even feel like giving up but just keep showing up, keep starting again because the prize is amazing -- something 5,000,000 Google searchers are looking for every month.