Happiness is a very vague term that most people use to describe a feeling of bliss. Where that bliss comes from can vary from person to person. Some people can find that feeling more often than others can. And for some, that feeling can seem very fleeting and sometimes all-together evasive.
I personally tend to use the word Joy. Joy seems to have a little bit more weight to it. A word with a little more substance and meaning. If I were to ask you when was the last time you felt Joy, you would probably search your memory for a very memorable moment. A moment that was so blissful, it was worth noting in your minds eye as something worth remembering. A full body experience.
Young children seem to have a much easier time finding this space of pure joy. Where their whole being is just gleeful and happy. Why is that? The reason is they are care free. Because of this, they have an easier time being In the moment. Why is it so difficult for us as adults to be in the moment? Because we are not care free.
As we get older and have more experiences, we start carrying around the weight of questionable past decisions. Regret, anger, fear, or any other emotion you can think of that might be haunting you from your past seeps into your daily thoughts and decisions. Then we have the worries of what’s to come. The unknown seems to make most people uncomfortable. We plan and plan and plan in order to prepare for what’s to come. Our minds are busy busy busy creating future scenarios with each potential decision, even though there is no way to really know if those scenarios will actually happen. In the end, aren’t we really just guessing?
With all of our weight from the past and worries about the future, no wonder it is difficult for us to be in the moment. This is a shame because it’s here, in the moment, where we find Joy. Being present. When we are present we are fully aware of what is happening around us. We are aware of our surroundings and with that there is a potential for appreciation. Who are you with? What are they doing? What are they saying? Are you enjoying their company? Are you enjoying where you are? Are you in a restaurant? Are you enjoying the food? Are you in nature? Is it beautiful? Note the word enjoy. Joy is built in. You are finding the joy in it.
When you are in the moment (or present), no matter what you are doing, you can always find something about it to appreciate. Are you driving? Can you feel the sun coming in through the windshield? Are you enjoying the music on the radio? If it’s winter, are you enjoying the heat the car is offering you? etc… Even if it’s the smallest thing. It’s those small subtle things we tend to miss when our minds are preoccupied, that might make all the difference.
You might have noticed I put the word appreciate in bold. That’s because this is a very important element about being in the moment that has the potential for bringing about Joy. If you find things to appreciate about the moment, not only are you aware of what’s happening, you are grateful for it. You are glad it’s happening. You are happy about it. Gratitude opens your heart and allows for the opportunity to experience Joy.
Being present or in the moment and recognizing you are grateful for something is what I would call the Sweet Spot. As I mentioned in the beginning, the biggest things that prevent us from being present and finding this sweet spot is our struggle to let go of the past and our worries of the future. Letting go of the past is a part of all of our journeys and is very individual. It requires looking within and soul searching. It can be quite a process. Letting go of our worries about the future requires a kind of acceptance. An acceptance that there is only so much we have control over. Both of these are topics I intend to discuss in depth in future blogs.
Right now I’m going to focus on the idea that joy or happiness is found in the present. In the now. And it comes from the gratitude we can find in it. The gratitude we find in today will become wonderful memories for the future.
If you have a hard time getting yourself into the present, try focusing on your breath for the count of 5. You will immediately bring your thoughts from wherever they are into your body, and into the present.
If you are having trouble finding what to be grateful for I recommend a gratitude journal of some kind. At the end of the day, pick 5 things that you are grateful for that day. It sounds cheesy, but it actually helps shift your mind from the negative to the positive. Make a conscious effort to do this every day for a week. Notice how your perception shifts. Try it for two weeks. Keep going. Your mind will naturally start to focus on what to be grateful for on it’s own.
Being present and practicing gratitude are the keys to finding joy in your every day, which will ultimately become your beautiful, joyful, and happy life.
May your cup always runneth over,