And now for a completely different approach to happiness. . .
If you prefer to listen, here’s the podcast version of this post on Soundcloud and iTunes.
This is a simple post that I offer you as you begin your week. And yes, it’s called “A teaspoon of happy” – just like my blog! What does that mean? It’s super cutesy and girly, yes. It sounds good on a site like Hello Giggles, yes. But it’s actually my methodology – my approach to happiness. Because I think of it as a recipe – one I would like to offer you.
When it comes to happiness – one of the only things that takes it away is thinking that it’s fleeting. The thinking about it and lamenting it: separating ourselves from it. The brain, the stupid thinking brain wants to get in the way of it all the time. Whether it’s looking backwards or forwards – it wants to take over the body and keep us occupied with reflections and computations. Nostalgia makes things past better than they really were. Future-focus makes the present into a desire for what isn’t, yet.
Yet in truth, we are only truly happy in the active making of our life – the skipping, swimming, cooking, dancing, loving, creating, making – pain comes from the searching for the result. The result lives in the present moment.
And the end result we lust for, that moment is pretty inconsequential when compared to our life’s happiness. It’s brief. It can be powerful and epic, but when you add up the value, it can never live up to the sum of the focus it has occupied in the years prior. Sometimes it is everything we dreamed it’d be: a wonderful and important moment – but nonetheless, it’s immediately over and then its’ time to aspire to the next milestone. This is not to say you should not strive— it’s to remind you that the striving is the best part. Separate from the result. Results are like bonus points – a casualty of the way you live. The way you live each day, must ALWAYS be the most awesome, beautiful, kind, smart, interesting, important, fun part of your life. Otherwise your brain takes each day away and places your life into the universe of “Analysis.” Your experiences become a hypothetical played out in imagination vs. happening, in front of you right now.
When your focus becomes more about what you want in the future and not what you are living right now, it needs to be manually disempowered – meaning, you need to intervene and change that habit of thought. You will know it has happened when you find yourself frustrated and dissatisfied with your life. That means somehow the thinking ego has taken hold of the throne that is ruling your life’s greatest focus.
Many successful self-helpers mislead in the way they portray success and fulfillment. They speak from platforms of great success, telling stories of ‘finally making it!’ Of suffering until that crossed that epic, wonderful finish line and THEN everything changed. Then they got it. They felt it. The universe loved them. Well, I have a different opinion on that. Life is not going to one day become constant joy if you weren’t already there. In other words, it’s not a point you reach. It’s not a moment of arrival. That’s the perception – that you must push yourself and set goals to reach a result. That if you focus hard enough you will manifest your dreams and that is when you reach nirvana. It sets your eyes on the wrong target to hear people talk about how to fulfill all of their dreams. It almost makes the manifesting and super goal-oriented drive into a method of transport to take you to a far away land in the future: your best life lives here. The self-helpers are there, and we can be too if we just follow the map we draw in our hearts.
But that is not the true nature of happiness. Happiness must begin today, right now. It must be created with what you have right now. Think of it like a daily recipe that you concoct and balance each day.
Discover and enact a day-to-day recipe that makes you happy in as many ways as possible. Build your happiness like you build a cake: with time and care. Very specifically. Not casually or based on assumptions. See how recognizing the ratios and becoming deliberate about your moments changes your baking equation. You will discover the muffins rise higher.
Work in small but time-ratio-important steps. Place importance in time spent in your day vs. eventualities. For example, if you love the beach – move to a place near the beach or one that allows you to pass by one on your daily route. If you love to write, write as often as possible and do it religiously – outside of a paycheck. Why? Because the pay is what the ego deems important. The process is what the soul loves. Wherever possible, remove power from the ego because it is removing the value of your participation in today.
TOOL: Recipe for Me
There is only one tool I offer you in this post. This is your assignment today and this week. Make changes to your details. Think of it like a recipe – everything you do today. Each and every moment you have, is not frivolous – it is an ingredient. It has a potency to affect the outcome of your lifetime. This is a recipe. You are making YOU.
What is that made of?
Just like a cake recipe might ask for a teaspoon of baking powder – and that directly relates to how light and fluffy it rises to become, YOUR life’s moments matter.
No one’s looking at these tiny moments but you, yet everyone will see them instantly when they see you. It will be baked into who you are: your way of being in your day-to-day is telegraphic. You present what you are made of with how you show up in each moment of each day.
For example, you might ask yourself, “What matters to Me, the individual I choose to present to the world? What do I genuinely care about, ethically – am I demonstrating that? What do I have to do and what do I want to do? Do I have a kind way of passing strangers? Do I smile and acknowledge others as a natural state? Do I smell like flowers? Am I a writer– with thoughtful vocabulary; someone who sends the best emails ever? Do I have a kind voice, even in my thoughts: Are they clearly the words of someone kind and self-loving? Am I someone who does not waste time on what is counterproductive or negative? Do I love to make things beautiful? Do I invest in making everything I do into a deliberate expression of what I am capable of? Expressions and actions matter: they create the actuality of your personality. It does not exist unless you live it.
When it comes to your big picture goals, pursue them with a delicate but specific emphasis: keep the balance by not letting them ruin today’s cake. Because that’s when the ego starts stealing the present away. Let go of the job of worrying and focus on the ratios you can affect: even if that’s a tiny teaspoon at a time. Create the right majority in your day and by default you will live a happy life.
I know that a lot of life is out of our control and therefore the ability to change ingredients is a challenge. With little freedom, building a positive majority can be difficult. So instead of looking at the whole, focus on adding new ingredients as often as possible. Never forget the potency of one teaspoon. Even though it’s small when looked at as an individual instance, it adds up and CHANGES the makeup of the whole as well as the directional flow of every other choice in your life. Tiny actions and individual moments become massive when they cement into a pattern lived over a lifetime.
Don’t worry— you won’t undo your potential for success if you stop focusing so hard on the striving aspect. Why? Because it’s the hyper focusing that actually blinds you from the truth I have been describing thus far. You only get to affect what happens today: right now. When it comes to worrying about stepping wrong, know that there is no such thing. Why? Because this is your life and there is no wrong way to live it. You can’t fail at it. Truly, you are the one who creates what your life is meant to be with how you choose to approach it, today. You are also the one who creates your brand of suffering. All of your suffering comes from a form of self-torture called lament. It comes from the idea that you can control more than what is in front of you, right now. It is an illusion and one that makes you unhappy.
Be here now: make the best recipe. Put stock in the moments: the littlest ones. Do it consciously. Because, you know what? You become a master baker. (He he.) But for reals, you get good at upping the ratio as a default and suddenly you’re the empowered, focused, driven, successful individual who also knows how to live a great life.
People who are worried about the future– are also worriers. People who feel bad about playing– also feel bad. People who are scared of dying– are also scared of living. Invest in your ingredients and make them all special. Don’t get overwhelmed – this won’t be a struggle or something you have to muscle through. All you have to do is start with simple consciousness. Begin to notice the details. Take ownership of your moments. You are making a brilliant, awesome YOU.
Featured image via iStock.