Here are the things which bring me the greatest happiness these days:
- time spent with my partner
- making things – knitting and crochet at the moment
- time spent with friends and family
- lifting heavy weights at the gym and zumba classes
- picking blueberries in the garden (there are a lot of them to pick these days)
- playing music
Here are some things that bring me stress, but still have positive consequences/outcomes attached:
- building the cabin
- large work projects that I am currently engaged in
Here are things that just bring me stress with no positive outcomes:
- worrying about or judging what other people do
- trying to control the behaviour of others
- planning and re-planning things in my head
- thinking about playing music
So you can see there that doing things that take my full engagement (ie – make me present) are the most enjoyable, and thinking about things that I have little control over are the least enjoyable. You can also see that my life is pretty quiet these days and does not involve any excessive behaviours on my part – also, it’s really healthy right now. Who knew that I would turn out to be so happy with small things?
I am in the process of giving up certain identity desires right now – have been doing that slowly over the last several years and am a better person for it. On the other hand, I continue in my desire for a certain material standard of living (see column two – stress, but with positives) which probably holds me back from freedom in the truest sense. I just read an interview with the “happiest man in the world” in which he essentially says that to be truly free, we can be attached to no one romantically – and at my current point in time I can say that I’m not giving that up either.
That’s okay, because I wasn’t aiming for “happiest” person in the world. I would settle very comfortably on “second-happiest” if it means I get to keep my husband and the life we have together.
These days I can tell that I am generally feeling pretty good because the stressful periods of very pronounced. I am dealing with a family matter right now, one that doesn’t have a huge effect on me but is upsetting, and I find during my meditations that my shoulders are much more tense and I am aware of a knot in my stomach. That awareness is unpleasant but good, because it helps to guide me to the right course of action and allows me to work with the tension in my being. Much of this tension is, of course, caused by the fact that I cannot make the other person do what I want them to do (in my mind “the right thing”). I am working on letting go of this desire, not by staying silent, but by speaking my mind and then putting the issue to rest inside myself.
It’s a no-brainer, that this should bring greater ease and joy into one’s life, but in practice it can feel impossible. As the monk in the linked article says – happiness is always available but it’s a skill and one that we must work at to develop fully.