Wait a minute – is it really that easy?
I’m compelled to explore this seemingly irreverent topic, even if it takes me to places I prefer to avoid, dissecting my own life in search of evidence. You’re welcome. I have decades of research. It’s not filed or anything, try not to judge me, it’s Christmas, 13 days and counting.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46
For example, let’s consider the annual Christmas card fiasco, I want it to represent an entire year, well actually only the good parts. Right? The perfect picture that captures the light, the smiles, the false reality I’m hoping to project. It doesn’t exist. How could it? Larry’s ready to use a grainy picture from two years ago, that makes me look fat, and half the family is missing. I’m not willing to settle. We start watering our angry seeds, I’m perturbed, he’s exasperated. Merry Christmas.
The thing I find most troubling is how determined I am to serve my own needs. The majority of my frustrations have to do with foiled expectations I set for others. Especially when it comes to Christmas cards. Yes, that is right, I am officially my own worst enemy, an odious disappointment.
I have a secret weapon, it’s true, most of you know her as Nancy, but she’s my sister, and although I lend her out on a case to case basis, she’s mine. She happens to be the definition of kindness (what the hell happened to me you might ask ~ second born ~ we only get half the attention). It doesn’t matter what I do, she’s supportive, even if she has to spin my behavior to find an upside. She does this because she loves me, and love liberates says Maya Angelou, it doesn’t just hold, that’s all ego. She’s a liberator, my little lamp lighter, and I’m enormously grateful.
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust
Some people (I won’t mention names) turn to their fur babies. I know it’s not for everyone, but if you have one, they are pure presence (in a simplistic way). Shaggy, my Portuguese Water dog, lays peacefully at my feet, total acceptance, no expectations, and best of all he seems fairly happy that I exist. See, you find what you are looking for, even if it’s only validation.
And then there’s pure, unsolicited information, and as luck would have it, this article fell into my lap, well sort of, it was actually sent to my email, by Krista Tippett (my BFF) of On Being, and it explores the practice of mindfulness as a way of preserving our happiness. Can you believe it? I realize the term mindfulness is overused, abused, and possibly annoying, but Thich Nhat Hanh makes it so appealing, like Eve, I took the bait, and now I’m offering it to you.
He asks us to consider ourselves as five year old children, fragile, easily wounded, sort of delinquent, and with simple breathing exercises (meditation), he asks us to show compassion to ourselves. I repeat. He asks us to show compassion to ourselves.
I realize six of you just signed off.
Stay with me, you don’t want to miss the list, it comes near the end, so you’ll keep reading.
You “carry” your reality
with you all the time.
It is a question of how
you choose to interpret
the things occupying the reality
you are “carrying
No, but there are techniques that can be helpful.
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Mother Teresa
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” Robert A. Heinlein
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoingand right doing there is a field.I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grassthe world is too full to talk about.”
Jalal Ad-Din Rumi
Clift notes on avoiding the Happiness Hijacker:
You will need…
1. Three nice people in your life, two at a bare minimum, who are available 24/7, and love you. (References available upon request).
2. A good dog, cat, bird, or fish (if you have commitment issues).
3. To smile, reach out, assist, calm, compliment, forgive, support, restore, rectify, remedy, and liberate one another, especially your significant other. (Hello, it’s not all about me).
4. Meditate on your inner child, better yet meditate on your wounded children, carefully bandaging the most painful abrasions, and set those babies free. (That is the objective)
5. Stop expecting others to do what you want. (just stop)
In spite of all the contrary evidence, if we search for the good in each other, we will find it. It’s what Santa does, “gonna find out who’s naughty or nice,” because it matters, kindness is a gift, bestowed by those who are wise (think gold, frankincense, and myrrh). The good news is while we wait in joyful hope, we can act as beacons for each other, so those of us stumbling around in the darkness, can avoid bruising their shins. Do I hear an amen?
There is only one thing that makes one truly grow old, to grow old interiorly: not age, but sin. Sin makes one old, because it makes the heart inflexible. It closes it, renders it inert, it makes it wither. Pope Francis
I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we’ll sing some Christmas carols.
- Embracing the Child Within – Thich Nhat Hanh link to full podcast and transcript. Thanks Krista.
- “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” Tom Bodett
- “I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.” Nikos Kazantzakis,