Searching for Happiness

Several times this week, a simply drawn cartoon popped up in my various social media feeds. One character asks another where she found the object she carries, because he has been searching everywhere for it.

I smiled every time I saw the cartoon, because of the object bearer’s response. My heart and soul resonated with an enthusiastic Yes!

This evening, as I considered topics for today’s blog post, the cartoon, which I mentally titled Searching for Happiness, made the list of possibilities. Just as I looked over my options, a song began to play. I don’t even know what song it was but the word happy caught my attention. I laughed, my decision made.

Searching for Happiness

What is Happiness?

That’s a big question that people have been trying to answer since ancient times. Philosophers, writers, poets, artists, actors, theologians, singers, psychologists and countless others have sought to define what happiness is.

What it is not is just another emotion, or a positive mindset, or a fat bank account. People agree that happinesses is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life imbued with meaning and purpose. However the road to happinesses is different for everyone, as is the exact meaning. Living my version of happy will look different from yours.

Searching for Happiness

Creating Happiness

What is essential is understanding that happiness cannot be supplied by an outside source. No one can “make” us happy or sustain that state of being for us. What a heavy burden to place on another person. Happiness is something we create for ourselves, and it is sometimes hard won.

The journey to bliss can involve pain, challenges and letting go of past hurts and the need to control people and outcomes. As we grow in awareness, we grow into a happiness that is not dependent on circumstances or what others are thinking, doing or saying.

My personal journey to happiness included facing and defeating fears, embracing my whole heart and accepting who I am, practicing gratitude, seeing the presence of the Divine in everything and recognizing that I am the only one who can create my happiness, which lets everyone else off the hook.

Searching for Happiness

Feeding Happiness

In my state of happiness, there are many ways that I contribute to my sense of well-being. I regularly feed my happiness by doing the things that bring me joy: spending time with family, laughing with grandkids, gardening, traveling, expressing my creativity, cultivating solitary time, watching movies, writing.

Taking care of my health contributes to my happiness, as do ongoing conversations with the Divine, nurturing my dreams and walking alongside other people as they journey. Can I be happy and still experience sadness, anger or disappointment. Yes! Do any of those erode my happiness? No! Happiness is core to my being. No matter what else is going on in my life at the moment, happiness is what I return to. Like those toys from the 1980s, the Weebles, I can wobble and tip off my center, but I won’t fall down and stay there.

Defining Happiness

As I often do, I looked up the etymology of the word happy. It comes from the old English word hap, in the 14th century, which meant “lucky”. The word worked its way into many cultures, however from the Greek to the Irish happy originally conveyed the meaning of being lucky and having good fortune.

Isn’t it interesting that some still perceive happiness as an elusive state of being, and that only the lucky few ever achieve it. How empowering it is to realize that searching for happiness begins with a solitary inward journey, and creating it is the uniquely personal experience called “living our best life”.

Searching for Happiness

Explore. Dream. Discover.

A Mark Twain quote inspired today’s Sunday Short. This American writer, humorist and entrepreneur definitely had a way with words. He understood what captured the human heart.

His words that so captured mine this week were these:

”Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

Explore Dream Discover

This speaks to me on so many levels. I already realize that it is more important to me to not have regrets and be disappointed than to stay comfortable, stay safe. Twenty years ago, I was just beginning to understand this.

I was at the place in my journey where I was ready to “throw off the bowlines”. Doing so required inner work that took years. Making the decision to face fears, embrace who I really was and find my voice was what finally allowed me to slip free from the knot that bound me.

Standing on the bow of my ship named LIFE, and looking ahead twenty years, I do not want to arrive there and wish that I had been braver, done more, followed my heart.

That’s not happening.

I know what I want, I know where I am headed, and I am learning how to get there. The Divine is my ship captain, trust and curiosity, creativity and desire are my traveling companions. I am leaning into the moment and I am compelled to continue on the journey because I want to see where the flow takes me.

There is safety in the harbor, safety from storms, from shipwreck, from countless perils. However, my eyes are on that distant horizon where the light meets the sea.

Explore Dream Discover

As I read Twain’s words again this afternoon, the song from the Disney film, Moana, came to mind. I have the song saved on my iPhone. It is on my playlist of inspirational songs. When I listen to How Far I’ll Go my heart beats faster and my eyes fill with tears, every…single…time. Why? Because it deeply stirs the desire in my heart.

I’ve been staring at the edge of the water
‘Long as I can remember, never really knowing why.
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try.
Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know, where I can not go, where I long to be.
See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me.
And no one knows, how far it goes
.
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me,
One day I’ll know. If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go. 
I take the words Explore. Dream. Discover. as a command to GO. It’s a command I am so very willing to obey. And there’s no telling how far I’ll go.
Explore Dream Discover

Where My Story Began

I saw the perfect meme yesterday, to build a Sunday Short around. Today is Mother’s Day, and not only is the quote I found perfect for this special holiday, it contains my word for 2018.

Where My Story Began

Where My Story Began

The truth of those words resonated with me. Whatever our mothers’ stories were before our births, when we arrived new stories began. Think of it as a spin-off story. The original story is crucial to the development of the next one.

The mother remains a central character in her child’s story. Whether that mom leaves, willing or unwillingly, whether she is a super mom, a horrible mom, or somewhere in between, her story continues to affect her offspring.

Where My Story Began

I recognize that my mom’s life, her story, has had a huge impact on my journey. I am grateful that she has been a constant presence in my life, guiding me through early childhood, helping me navigate the turbulent teen years, and there to offer support and encouragement when I shifted into adulthood and became a mother myself.

We don’t always see things the same way. However, I do listen to what my mom has to say. Her years of experience, as a strong woman, as a single mom for a time, as a successful business woman, as a world traveler, as a storyteller and author, are incredibly valuable as I write the story of my own journey.

Where My Story Began

This afternoon I spent time with Mom. We chatted, and toured her backyard, looking at her plants and flowers. We discussed recipes and health and making tea from freshly picked herbs. So much of who I am has roots in who my mother is. I am grateful to be her daughter, her firstborn.

As our entwined stories continue, I look forward to more shared adventures, whether they take us to foreign countries together or deeper within our relationship or into unknown, unexplored terrain. I appreciate that my mother gave me life and figuratively penned my life story that began with the words, Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Cindy…

It’s been an interesting and beautiful story Mom…and I’ve already claimed my happily ever after. Let’s write more chapters in our stories, together.

Where My Story Began