All Aboard! Merry Monday!
As you board the LifeTrain I give you your weekly business card, it reads:
“Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.” ~Chuang Tzu
Back when one of my many nieces (Porche) was three years old (now 25) she was the most pleasant person I have ever hung out with. What I loved most about her was that she didn’t care how I looked, what I was driving, etc. she just loved her Uncle Chuckie. If you have children or are around children, you know exactly what I am talking about. Anyway, her mother was frequently on-call (as a doctor). Sometimes when she was called into work (all hours of the night), in a pinch she would call me to baby-sit her daughter. She was a single mom.
Question: As I spent time with Porche I often wondered, could it be that instead of only teaching our children the lessons of life perhaps we should let them teach us the lessons of happiness?
Since I didn’t have kids and it didn’t seem to be in the cards for me… time with her was very important. Most of our time was spent with my observing and playing. It got me thinking about her abundant joy and how I should take these lessons to heart.
Here is what Porche taught me about the secrets to happiness:
Don’t think about playing; just play.
My niece didn’t think about playing or how to play, she just played. Just like a blade of grass doesn’t intend to grow, it just grows. But we get so caught up in thinking about doing something that we think that contemplation is action, but it couldn’t be farther from it.
Are you practicing making a change to your life so much that you forgot to make the change happen? One of my mottoes is, “Ready, fire, aim,” because if I think about it too long, I will talk myself out of taking action.
Don’t think about playing, just play.
Stop and listen to the birds.
One of my niece’s favorite things was to listen to the birds in the morning. When was the last time you listened to the birds at dawn? When was the last time you smelled a blooming flower? When was the last time you took over an hour to eat a meal, savoring each bite?
This is mindfulness and it is so good for creating happiness. Part of mindfulness is practicing gratitude. It’s hard to be grateful if you don’t stop and notice all the good things in your day. Stop and listen to the birds.
Explore above, below, and everything underneath.
Like most children, my niece was incredibly curious. Everything was new to her, so naturally it had to be explored. She had to explore every aspect of something new, no matter if it was chalk, the sound a bell made, or what ice cream tasted like. Her entire day was one big exploration of life.
As an adult I get set in my ways; don’t you? We are so content in our ways we forget about new ideas, new perspectives, and new ways of doing things.
When was the last time you took a new route to work, tried a different restaurant, jumped in a pool, or danced? Happiness is in the joy of the moment, and there is no greater way to create joyful moments than to explore new things. Explore above, below, and under everything.
Bath time is a cause for major celebration.
For my niece there was no greater activity than taking a bath. Total happiness ensued as she got placed in her tub. Everything about the bath was full of joy—the water, the splashing, making bubbles, and time with her uncle.
When was the last time you reveled in something like a bath or even a hot shower? Instead, we get in to get clean and spend the whole time rushing through to-do lists in our heads. Use your bath or shower to cleanse your thoughts and enjoy the experience. Bath time is cause for celebration.
If it’s funny, silly, or exciting, then laugh.
I read that a child laughs an average of forty times per day. An adult laughs an average of fifteen times per day. If something is funny, silly, or exciting, then my niece was laughing. and thus we were laughing. Some are small giggles and some are deep belly laughs. Both are full of present happiness and joy.
There is so much to laugh about. Don’t worry about looking silly or being the one with the loud laugh. Laughter is contagious and immediately changes your mood. If it’s funny, silly, or exciting, then laugh.
A side note, trust me…if you ever hang with your conductor…”you gonna laugh”. Ask some of your fellow passenger who often call me: STU-PID! My goal is to make soda shoot from your nose.
Above all else what my niece taught me about happiness was to be present and enjoy the beauty of life. There is much to be grateful for and enjoy.
Instead, like many, I can easily get wrapped up in deadlines, feeling bad about my body, relationship drama, or fear of failure. All of these are self-created.
If I really stop and just notice the world around me in that moment, I see trees and hear birds. I enjoy the sunrise and sitting with friends. There is no anxiety without anticipation. And you cannot anticipate the present moment; you can only be in it.
Have a great week…
ALL ABOARD!!! The LifeTrain!!!