Are You Happy? An Examination of What is Really Beneath Our Unhappiness

Are you happy? It is a question you may not ask yourself very often. Most people usual answer with fine. If you are unhappy in some area of your life though, I bet you tell people all about how dissatisfied you are with that aspect of your life. After all, we are very good at focussing on what is not going well, but embarrassed to talk about what is going right. It is like we should be ashamed of being happy. Let’s take a deeper look at happiness and how to find it more of the time.

When I was a teenager, I was not a very happy girl. My grandmother, who was always so wise, gave me a little plaque to hang in my bedroom. It had a poem on it about happiness. It hung in my home until just a few years ago when it got packed away for a move and never reemerged from the box. I do not know who wrote the poem but it was titled simply Happiness. The basis of the poem was that happiness is a choice we make. It is not someone else’s responsibility. It is up to us, individually, to decide to be happy. So, I ask you, do you choose to be happy? If not, what is getting in your way?

Dissatisfaction could be the culprit. I was listening to my yogi playlist on random while working today. In the midst of the meditative yoga music the Yoga Niyamas started to play as taught by some very wise Yoga Guru. The Niyamas are basically a code of behavior or principles for life. I was just getting ready to hit the skip button when he started talking about happiness. He then said something that hit me as very profound. He said it is not whatever we are dissatisfied about that is making us unhappy. He gave some examples of this as our job or spouse. He then goes on to say; they are not the cause of our unhappiness. What is actually making us unhappy is our dissatisfaction. Really think about that. If I am dissatisfied with some aspect of my life because it doesn’t look like someone else’s life, it is not that aspect that is making me unhappy. It is my dissatisfaction.

Let’s look at a fictitious scenario that I have heard many times over. My friend Jane comes to me and complains about her husband Tom. She is upset with Tom because he doesn’t help out around the house. This has made her very dissatisfied with her marriage. She compares Tom to my husband Marty who does dishes and laundry with a smile. Because Tom is not measuring up to Marty, Jane is unhappy with her marriage. Marriage is a big part of life, when you are married. Jane’s unhappiness flows over into her overall feelings about life. If you ask Jane if she is happy, she will tell you she is not. Is Tom making Jane unhappy? No, he is not. It is Jane’s dissatisfaction that is causing her unhappiness. She compared Tom to someone else and felt he did not measure up. She set an expectation for Tom that he is unwilling or unable to achieve, if he even knows about it at all.

Now let’s say Jane talks to a wise friend; does some deep self work or gets some therapy. Slowly her perspective starts to shift. She starts to focus on the things in her life she does like. Then she starts to notice the things about Tom that she genuinely appreciates. Suddenly her dissatisfaction with the fact that he doesn’t push the vacuum cleaner around the house disappears; as her focus shifts to what a great provider Tom is. Perhaps it is even simpler than that; maybe Jane just decides to be happy. She starts ignoring the things she is dissatisfied with and makes a choice to be happy even if everything in her life is not perfect.

We see examples of people who choose happiness everyday. The person who is going through cancer treatment with a smile on her face. The guy who looses his job and sees it as an opportunity to try something new. The person who has a parent, who picks at them all the time and just shrugs their shoulders. Saying that is how that person has always been so why let it upset them. Happiness is a choice. It is a choice we get to make every day; in every situation and relationship. I am so grateful for my wise grandmother. Who, in her loving way, helped me to realized I was causing my own misery.  I hope you can look past your dissatisfaction on the things that don’t meet your expectations and choose to be happy anyway.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find happiness an easy choice to make, as if by magic.

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Peace, Love, and Joy

Many years ago an idea occurred to me and as I have observed my life, it has proven to me to be true. I have noticed my motivation behind doing things, purchasing things, and making other life decisions, based against this hypothesis, have held up. Perhaps you will find it to be truth for you as well. I believe that everything we do is to attain at least one of three basic things: peace, love, and joy. Look at the decisions you make in life. Why did you do what you did? Examine what it was you were hoping to attain. Let’s look at some examples from my life.

An easy example is when I started to date again. Obviously, I was looking for love. How about when I buy new clothes. This could be love as well? Maybe, I feel if I look cute enough, people will love me?  Now, of course, we do not have to look cute to be worthy of love. But the ego often tells us we are more lovable when we dress nicely, so this cannot be ignored as a possible motivator. I may get compliments and that will bring me joy. Another possibility is that the clothes will fit comfortably and this will be a type of peace.

Another example to look at is the boat my husband and I bought in Florida. Of course, the boat allows us to visit our friends who live there more often, so love is definitely one of the motivators. Along with the fact that it allows us to have a get away, where we can spend time together; more love. It definitely brings us joy, allowing us to have our ‘mini’ weekend getaways. Also, I am planning a retreat on the boat with Adventure Sister, Emy and in that way, it will also bring peace.

At various times in my life I have changed jobs. Now I have changed for different reasons. One reason might be job satisfaction. This, of course, would be joy. I love a challenge, so sometimes I have changed jobs to take on a new challenge. This is also more joy. If you consider the ego’s involvement; being successful could be a way of gaining love. In my family, success is valued and I have certainly felt more loved during times of success. This again does not make me more worthy of love. For I am enough and worthy despite any level of successes. We all are. Truthfully it is a motivator. Other times, I have taken new jobs to make more money. True, that money cannot buy happiness, but it can “buy me a boat” as the song by Chris Janson says. We associate things with happiness. Also having more money to buy necessities and pay bills is also a form of peace. Trust me, as someone who is working on Financial Wellness, there is peace to be had by having enough resources to support your lifestyle.

At one point, I wondered if I should add ‘Adventure’ to the list of motivators, but then I realized, adventure is just another word for joy. Emy and my trips to the boundary waters bring us joy. Travel also brings my husband and I a lot of joy because it allows us to deepen our relationship through shared experiences.

Look at the various aspects of your life; getting an education, making purchases, taking trips, deepening relationships. Look deep down, below the surface reason you tell yourself for making the decision you did, find what is really underneath. Does this hypothesis hold true for you? Are Peace, Love, and Joy the reasons for doing what you do?

Thank you for reading my blog today, I love you. May you find all the peace, joy, and love that you need, as if by magic.

 

*Picture taken at Franconia Artist Park in Franconia MN.

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Finding Peace and Joy in the Ordinary Moments

Have you been so in the flow of consciousness that you can feel the now. There is no struggle with moments of the past, jumping back into your mind or worry for the future. I have had a few blessed moments like this. One such moment happened while my husband and I were driving home from the airport.

As the truck rolled down the city streets, I noticed that my attention landed on nothing in particular. Instead I noticed it all without judgement. The vehicle rolled steadily down the road. The homes flowed past the window. For once, I did not wonder if the people living inside them were happy. I had no feeling of preference over one type of a house or another. I did not worry about whether the occupants were capable of shoveling the snow in their yards. I was not planning what needed to get done when I got home or even anxiously awaiting our arrival at our driveway. I just sat peacefully in the truck and watched the ever changing neighborhoods outside the window. I did not judge it to be good or bad. It all just was. I was in the flow of consciousness. Daily mediation has been happening more often than not for me lately and, although my meditations are not always the perfection of what I think they should be, I feel they are helping me connect more readily with consciousness.

Blissful moments of being completely in the “now” only happen to me rarely. When they do, I grab hold of them and allow them to last however long they may. Eventually (and it is usually not long) a thought or a person will demand my attention. This is life. This is the world we all live in. But these moments of presence are here for us. Washing the dishes, watching children at the park, walking down the street, waiting for public transportation, or even waiting for the computer to boot up; are all little bits of space we have to just allow. There is no need for judgement of the thoughts that rise up. They will rise up. No need for the attachment to the sensations in our body, just notice them and allow. You do not have to sit crisscross applesauce or close your eyes. Just be; notice it all without judgement. Do not attach your attention to any one item or activity. Do not make up stories about the people passing by. Allow them to just pass like smoke from a campfire. Flowing gently along. There is no need to hold on to this moment. You are safe in just allowing.

As you go about your day, look for the little bits of time that will permit you to be fully present. All that thinking does not serve you. It actually sweeps away your happiness. The more you are able to stay in the now, the more you are able to find your joy. I want you to find your joy. I want you to have peace in your life. Do you want these things too? I bet you do.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your find peace and joy, as if by magic.

Previous blogs on this subject that you may find interesting:

What Comes After the 90 Meditation Adventure?

Meditation: A Beautiful Experience

*Photo taken in St. Croix Falls, WI

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Meditation: A Beautiful Experience

My meditation experience yesterday was so beautiful, that I would like to share it with all of you. Although I had a beautiful backdrop to begin meditation, it is still possible to do it anywhere and at anytime. There are no ideal settings or circumstances, all you need is you.

Yesterday I was blessed to have the opportunity to do my meditation on the beach. It was a beautiful day in the high 60’s and the sun was fully out. Yet it was still January and the beach was not at all crowded. I found myself a quiet spot on the sand near enough to the water to hear the waves but not so close to the action. I settled in on my soft blanket in easy pose (crisscross applesauce) and allowed my eyes to gently close.

More often than not, as I begin my meditations, my monkey mind gets busy making “to do” lists for me and will try to document the experience for a blog or journal entry. I tried to reassure the never stopping thinker, that it was okay just be quiet, but of course that was more thinking. Slowly, as the minutes slipped away, I got into the sweet spot in meditation. That spot where you notice the sights and sounds around you without judgement or a running commentary about them.

I heard steps going past me. They would start in the distance and grow in their volume as they neared. Then fade again as they went past. This is just how the thoughts that come up in meditation should be handled. It is okay to notice them but also allow them to pass. Yet, so often my mind will try to hold on to these random fingers of thought. Afraid they might slip away before they could be captured.  Why is it that my ever present narrator thinks everything it has to say is so darn important to jot down. The ego is fully involved with this thinking part of me.

As I sat there with the warm sun on my back, sounds became more distinctive. I noticed them but did not attach any importance to them. The waves washing on the shore, the call of the sea gulls and the sounds of traffic on the road behind the beach; were all a part of the music I sat with. Partway into my meditation, a large family came and stood beside me. They were excited to be at the beach and chattered happily with one another. I am grateful for the buddhist monk who taught me that quiet is not necessary for meditation. He used the example that we do not get frustrated or angry with the birds who sing during our meditations. We only get that way with people because we think we can control them. I do not need quiet to meditate since this lesson. I now can allow the noises that people make as a part of the experience of being in the now, part of remaining present.

Each moment in life is perfect, if directed into only the present moment. When we live in the flow of consciousness we are happier. Meditation is a way for us to better get in touch with our true nature. Find the little moments in your life where you can be present for a few minutes and just notice. I have a future blog coming, that will talk about how one such moments occur for me without even trying.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find peace in everyday moments, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken by my sweet husband on New Smyrna Beach, FL.

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Find the Joy in Your Story, As Is

“Sometimes you have to let go of the picture of what you thought it would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are actually living” ~ Rachel Marle Martin

All of our lives, most of us have been told stories of the families we came from and have the expectations set for what we are to become. They may be others’ expectations or they may be ours. What will we do as a career? How will we live, pray, or even what recreational activities will we do? All of these things are expectations set for us early in life. Of course these change and shift as we move forward. Though often, when we do not meet these set expectations, there is disappointment. It may be our disappointment or that of others, who feel disappointed for us, but it is there all the same.

I really like the above quote because if we are to truly living in the now, we must accept this life we are living. For me this does not mean not to strive to improve myself and my life. It means that I need to find the joy, perfection, and peace in things as they are. It allows me to accept today, as is, while still manifesting the life of my dreams. Gratitude begets more to be grateful for. By finding the joy in my life, as is, more joy will be delivered to me as I step ever forward.

When I was growing up there was no doubt that I would go to college. It was the expectation as well as the legacy set down for me by my mother, who had  two bachelor degrees and two master degrees. When I dropped out of high school, I am sure she felt that her world was crumbling. I am sure it was crushing to her that I was not living up to the potential she saw in me, yet I eventually found my way and now have 2 degrees as well as several certifications. I did not get to this place all at once. I accepted each place I found myself as ok and where I was at that time.  I continued to manifest the future I wanted. I may not have always seen the joy in where I was as it took (and takes) time focusing on my wellness to get to that point. It took years of self-work to pull myself to the place I am, so that I can see the joy in today, right now. I still aspire to be more, do more and help more people. But for today I am joyful and I appreciate all the blessing in my life.

There are so many times in life when we paint a picture of what we think something should be like, when often it turns out to be quite different. Maybe it is your job. Maybe it is your relationship. Maybe it is your health. Maybe it is your faith. Maybe it is some other aspect of your life. It is okay to admit it’s not what you thought it was going to be. It is okay to accept it as is and find the joy in that. It is also okay to make plans to improve or change it and to move towards the life of your dreams.

Accept what is. Find the joy. Count your blessings and make plans to move toward the life of your dreams.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find the joy in each and everyday in the things that are not what you expected, as if by magic.

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What is Given, Must Be Given Away Again

In our culture, re-gifting can sometimes be looked on as rude. We tend to believe that we must cling to things. If we like something, we think we must possess it. I notice it when I see a type of tree I like, I wish it was in my yard, so I could “own” it. Why is it that we feel we must possess the things we appreciate?

I heard a story, several months ago, about a Native American Peace Pipe. What I heard was how one tribal leader would give it to another. That the pipe was not something to be possessed or even owned. It was to be given away again. So in this way the Peace Pipe was passed around and never really “belonged” to anyone. When the Europeans came the Indigenous people shared the Peace Pipe, in this same way with them, but were perplex when these newcomers kept the Pipe and did not pass it on or return it to the tribal leaders.

This story really made me think about many things in my life. I know I am a spiritual being and not of this world, but rather journeying through it. I know the “things” I possess now I cannot take with me when I leave. So why do I cling to “things”. What is it that makes me feel “safe” because I have stuff. Recently someone shared with me a method of cleaning things out that stems from a Japanese tradition. It is called KonMari and has to do with hold an item to you and if it gives you Joy, you keep it and if it does not, you get rid of it. I love the idea of this. Why would we keep something that doesn’t give us joy? As the co-author of a book called Lessons Through Joy, I have a fondness for Joy in my life.

I recently made a choice to step away from something in my life and part of the decision around this was related to baggage. When you go somewhere, how much stuff do you bring with you? Do you cling to material things to make you feel safe? I do this! When I travel I bring so much with me that my bags are heavy. Is all of this outer baggage really just a physical manifestation of the inner baggage? What would it take for you to feel safe enough to set down some of the bags? I am making an effort in my life to release some baggage, to feel safe and to appreciate something without needing to possess it.

I intend to voyage through the second half of my life a little lighter. Know that if I see something beautiful today, I can appreciate it in the “now” and not need to keep it forever. Instead, I can pass it on to others to appreciate. I can share freely, knowing I am safe and that I have all I need.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of feeling safe, as if by magic. I love you.

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