To answer the burning question “Have I found myself any happier?” Oh, of course! It is Autumn, and the air is crisp! If there are two things that lift my spirit, they are the longer days of spring and the cooler days of fall.
The goal for September was to energize by following four guidelines in my Blueprint of Happiness. Let’s take a look and see how it played out:
- Get Outside – I found the fresh air and sunshine had the most positive impact on my attitude. Of course, the weather has been sunny and comfortable. Time will tell if I will find this as energizing in February. In addition to our weekly jaunts to the dog park, I found time to sit outside and enjoy my senses, meander through nature, and work on a few projects out in my own yard.
- Music – In my opinion there is too much talk radio broadcast in the morning. I prefer to start my day with a song stuck in my head. Of course, the goal was not to just listen to music, but to find something that moves me. It really doesn’t matter how it moves me. I want to cry, to dance, to do a little head-banging, and sometimes just sing along and laugh my butt off! To feel emotion is to feel alive. To feel alive is to reap happiness.
- Run an Errand – It came as no surprise that trying to think of one errand every day, no matter how small, became laborious. Within a week I had redefined the goal to “Complete Something.” I patched a section of lawn. I wrote a letter. I bought ingredients and baked cookies. I bought a light bulb for my oven. Something did indeed get accomplished every day, and I am the better for it.
- 15 minutes of Nothing – As predicted, this was the most difficult task to perform. I found it easiest when combined with my goal to get outside. Sitting with the sun on my face and watching the squirrels hop through the yards while doing nothing was lovely. It reminded me of times past when people used to sit on the front porch at the end of the day. It’s a perfect way to reconnect with your senses, which the world has become so adept at cutting off.
This month of October I have decided to connect with reality and truth. Not the kind of truth where I’m going to ask Bubba if my jeans make my butt look big. I will happily reside in that ignorance indefinitely. The truth I seek is that which comes from spending time mindfully. My daily intentions include:
- Eat mindfully
- Stop, Look, and Listen
- Create a moment of truth (The Joy Diet by Martha Beck)
The first day that I went through the four steps for creating a moment of truth, I found myself sobbing. It went like this:
Step 1: Start with your daily dose of nothing
As usual, I spent my fifteen minutes taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. I looked at the timer three times before it finally went off. While I enjoyed the break, I was ready for the alarm to sound so I could continue the tasks of the evening.
Step 2: Ask and answer these questions:
What am I feeling? I kind of wish I had spent those fifteen minutes accomplishing something.
What hurts? I hate that the days are so short that doing something for myself feels like a waste of time.
What is the painful story I’m telling? I’m wasting my life working for a paycheck, and just surviving from one day to the next.
Is my painful story working? Yes, I am tricking myself into thinking that my life is being used against my will.
Can I think of another story that might work better? The things I choose to do matter. Even if I am doing something I’m not thrilled about, I make other people happy by making them laugh, or treating them right. Look at what a good life Barney had while he was just hanging around with me. He was such a good dog, and I made sure he knew it every day he was with me . . . .
. . . and that’s when the sobbing started.
The exposure of this lie I had been telling myself — the truth — set me free. I may not be able to choose to stop working for a paycheck, but I can choose how I affect the people around me. And in liberating that reality, the grief for the recent loss of my dog surfaced unexpectedly.
Step 3: Offer compassion to your inner lying scumbag.
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.
The thermometer is dropping and I have taken to wrapping myself in a scarf and blanket, and sitting on the front step with a cup of tea. Eventually I become awkwardly aware that a smile has settled on my face. I quite like it, and instead of setting the timer to make sure I fulfill my fifteen minute session, I now set it so that I don’t forget to stop.