Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dec.28: The Flavors of Happiness

A major flavor to happiness, perhaps the major flavor, is NOW. Crying over spilt milk is unhappy. To be interested in the shape of the spilt milk on the floor, this could lead to happiness. To be astonished and delighted by the splashing sound of the spilling milk, this too could bring happiness. To notice where my attention had strayed just before I spilled the milk, and to have my attention once more by noticing that it was gone, this too could yield happiness. To return to my breathing and sensing myself as I clean up the mess, again, here I could find happiness, in the moment of moving myself in the real world and being aware of myself in that simple moving.

To wish an alternate universe where I never spill milk can only bring the misery of fighting with reality. To be curious about how this “mistake” came about points to another flavor of happiness, the flavor of learning. Learning is close cousin to now, because learning sets out to discover something new, something previously unknown or unnoticed. One opposite of learning is taking everything for granted, which is to say: being asleep to the rising newness of each moment. Another opposite to learning is a closed mind, the mind that thinks I already know it all. This is not only dangerous and false, it is dull as well.

How can I have the fun of learning if I already know everything? This is one of the delights of the Feldenkrais Method.® Rather than aiming to “fix” someone’s back, neck, shoulder, walk or dance, the goal is to set up conditions for learning to function at a higher level, a level of more options and choices, a level of more ease and grace.

This is another flavor of happiness, the flavor of ease, the opposite of being out of sorts, of being filled with dis-ease. Consider the rainy day. To listen to the rain, to find an umbrella and walk in the rain, to smell deeply the scents that the rain brings out: all these speak to a simplicity and ease, an attitude of enjoyment of that rain. To cry over, complain about, resent or be annoyed by the rain, all create a mind in which unhappiness will reign about the rain.

Another flavor of happiness is play. Watch a child with the mud, or a pet, or a bicycle, or a stick in the creek. Fascination. Experimenting. Learning and discovery. Messing around. Having fun, improvising to the tune of now.

Now in nature is where the happy child points us. Of course, a child can be happy indoors, too, banging on pots and pans, or pulling the cat’s tail. But that banging is nature, the nature of our body loving sounds and rhythm and movement, or the nature of a cat, a creature of the world living in the here and now, free from the verbal shroud into which we adults so often disappear when we drift from the moment and stray from our happiness.

Now in nature. This is what we love of creeks and clouds and redwoods and meadows and the ocean. They pull us into the moment, get us away from our inner chatter, or worry, our schedules, our habits of unhappiness. They remind us of how good it is to be alive.

Another flavor of happiness: gratitude. Love. Call it what you will, but sometimes we are just thrilled with life or with another person. In that love, happiness glows forth as what life is all about.


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