I write this blog post sitting, here. Watching him watch the fire. I am right next to him, but somewhere else, in a far off digital land of this computer. I'm not even experiencing anything that's happening around me right now. Doesn't matter if I'm in California or flat Florida or the cold Northeast right now. We're never present anymore... with our device in front of us no matter where, no matter what.
Happiness and presence. Why is this something to think about? Because we're not present in our happiness. Which means we don't feel it, we don't suck the juice of it. We don't let ourselves have it.
It's almost like some old feeling - some old teaching - is holding us back from it.
Maybe you can let yourself go to the happiness but then just minutes later you worry about the next thing. Maybe thoughts ring in your head: "You can be doing so much more with your time." "Did you have a productive day?" "What else can you be doing?" "That's not good enough."
Why don't we let ourselves have it?
Why are we not present for it?
Because we're so used to stressing and filling our every waking moment, our every break in thought.
So then how do we reverse this, how do we become present in our days? Present in our happiness?
How to be present and feel happiness
You TRY. You actually try. You try for happiness, you try to be happy. Take a moment with this thought:
You try to be happy . . . ?
Yes. What's so wrong with that? What is so taboo about that? Let me remind you, you are miraculously alive in this world and you deserve pure happiness.
Contrary to what everyone else thinks and says, happiness is not some thing you either have or you don't - end of story - and if you are one of the unlucky ones, well, sorry for you.
No, that would mean there's no hope for those who don't have naturally happy circumstances. And what about the people whose brains simply cannot fire as many endorphins as everyone else's - are they just out of luck?
No. There are work-arounds, exercises.
Anyone who exercises knows the feelings of happiness and euphoria that not only come during or shortly after a workout, but also sustain as an overall feeling of up-ness over the course of weeks and months (so long as you are consistent about working out).
So, we're going to go for a run to get our happy.
We're going to look out for it, keep an eye open for it. In our moments, we're going to think about the goodness of what's going on. We're going to hunt for and feel the details of it.
I wrote a portion of this post while on an airplane. I broke in the middle of writing to actually do what I was telling you to do. And this is what happened:
Thank you so much for keeping me safe on this flight. Bumpy as it has been. Thank you for keeping me safe. See right now I just want to feel that. Feel the special-ness of it. Not fantasize about some future date where there is more.
But instead just be right here. Looking out at the sky. And the stars. And seeing some minor minor town lights in New Mexico, because it doesn't seem like there is a lot of development there. Which makes me happy. To see places where there is still so much nature. Sitting here on this plane. How do my legs feel. My arms feel. My mind feels. Really happy that I'm not so frightened even with all the turbulence I'm in.
Ha, look what came out at the end: "Really happy..." I just made myself happy and didn't realize I did it!
Steps to make yourself happy
It begins as a matter of clearing the mind of anything else. So that you can be there, in that moment, and not somewhere else because your brain is somewhere else. Meditation helps with this - with harnessing emptiness in your mind. Create this empty space and you've made the room for something new to squeeze on in - happiness.
Next, you look for the happiness to fill the empty space. Acknowledge the beauty of the moments. Acknowledge the impermanence of every single thing, every moment, every feeling. And just throw yourself into it. Right now, you need to actively hunt for one thing about this moment that makes you happy. This part of the exercise is similar to my 3 Things exercise for gratitude, where I ask people to write 3 Things they are grateful for that occurred that day. Such type of exercise is scientifically proven to generate and increase happiness. Yet in this blog post, I'm asking you to find things to be happy about right now, in-the-moment, as it happens, LIVE. Bring it to this present moment. What are you doing right now?
Say you're driving on the back roads and it feels a little cooler on this late-summer night. Finally, a bit of relief to these scorching summer days. The minute you acknowledge that relief, roll down your window. Let yourself have it.
Then, you examine it. Examine how your skin feels against the wind, how your nose is being rushed with incoming cool air, yet your fingers are warm from the heat of your car. Imagine how your mind feels: light, relaxed. I like to refer to this step as tasting the juice of it, really letting yourself savor it.
And finally, you stop planning for the next moment. You stop everything else as it tries to cross your mind and you keep bringing your mind back to the feeling of happiness.
Recap on how to be happy
- Cease all other thoughts (creating space in your brain)
- Acknowledge something in this moment that makes you happy
- Examine the feelings of it, feel it all out
- Stop planning for the next moment, stop everything else on your mind and just keep coming back to the feeling of happiness that you found in Step 3
"Those who have had a glimpse of the blissful exuberant state of consciousness that exists when you let go of the superficial trappings of life understand that 'living in the present' is being at peace. It's incredibly difficult to do and not an easy thing to hold onto, but it's there if you want it."
We have got to start allowing ourselves to be happy. To be present in good situations. You allow yourself to be present in the difficult situations, don't you?
Bill Murray talks about happiness and presence in the interview below. This is a man who has so much. This is the thing he wants in happiness. Presence. In his moments, in his feelings, in his interactions with people.
He wants happiness, LIVE.