When I was growing up I just assumed all the grown-ups were happy. I mean, they had all the control so, presumably, they’d have their lives arranged to make them happy, right?
You and I know it’s not that simple; we get busy or into situations that aren’t fun but difficult to get out of...happiness can go on the back-burner. It’s harder to be happy than expected. We don’t do the happy things, forgetting how to be happy, and one day it feels like such a long journey back to happiness that perhaps it not worth trying.
I’d like to offer a start...just the first step, nothing big or daunting.
The trick is to start small...very small. If you’re really busy, or out of practice, you don’t want to be too ambitious; a massive turn-around is hard to do and likely to fail, leaving you demoralized. So, we’re going to pick a teen tiny happiness event, a moment in the day to dip your toe into happiness. Something like this…
Choose a time, perhaps mid-morning or mid-afternoon, to make a cup of tea...a nice herbal one - something aromatic and special. Place all your gentle attention on adding water to the kettle, notice the sparkle. Listen carefully to the click as you start the heating process and the bubbling as the water boils. Watch the changing colour as you pour steamy water over the bag in the cup. Take as long as you like to enjoy watching the colour spread. Smell the scent of the tea...close your eyes so you can concentrate on the aroma and how it fills your mind. Sip the tea and notice the warm water spread through your mouth. If you can spare the time, enjoy sipping the tea but, if you must rush back to work at least you have enjoyed 5 minutes in your tea ritual. This little ritual can be done each day...your own exclusive event.
Somewhere on a window sill, or other bright spot, place a very small plant. All we want is something green with a few leaves. An herb would be perfect so there’s a scent to enjoy; basil has a pungent smell, lemon-thyme is fresh and fluffy fennel smells of licorice. Each day visit your plant, observe the stem and leaves closely and see what has changed. Press your fingers gently around a leaf to transfer the scent and then...let it linger before your nose...close your eyes so only the smell is in your mind. Notice the pleasure in your body. Give your plant a tiny sip of water, look closely and notice how the water darkens the soil around the stem. Then carry on with your day. Visit your plant daily and pay it close attention...be happy together.
Select a perfume you like. It can be a branded bottle or, if you don’t like those, there are plenty of natural ones from places like The Body Shop who have scented oils. I have “Truly Gracious” by Kate Spade for summer and “Vanilla” by Crabtree & Evelyn for winter. Place the bottle where you can see it; use it each day as you get ready for life…as you finish dressing. Observe the colour of the liquid and the bottle’s appearance. Then, you can scent your wrists, the back of your neck, your legs, or even your clothes if you prefer. And when you do close your eyes, smell the scent for a while, really experience it in your mind...the warmth or coolness, the flowers and spices. Let it be pleasurable. You can apply it again through the day if you like...remembering to enjoy it when you do.
“From little things, big things grow.” Paul Kelly
The point of each of these moments is to provide yourself with a little relief. Happiness can just be the absence of stress and even a minute away from that can be valuable.
Once you’re done, return to the rush and hassles of the day if you need to but, at least you visited happiness, dipped your toe, during one of these mini events. Or choose any little ritual you prefer. The trick is to start as small as possible, make it brief and repeated, with something to do, something to see and something to experience inside your mind. Daily we want to be reminded to take a break from the world, go inwards and feel pleasure. Eventually, you get a feel for happiness, familiar with the sensation, so that one day you might just slip completely into the water and swim away...