How often do we achieve the elusive state of real happiness, being actively aware that we are happy?

Most of us associate this feeling with particular events or occasions, such as being away on that special holiday we’ve looked forward to with nothing to do but please ourselves. We’ve chosen a nice resort, maybe part of the world not seen before, and we have family or friends to share it with. There’s pleasure in having whatever food or drink we like, experimenting with new tastes, and seeing exotic places that are not part of our normal lives. We all love a beautiful sunset or seascape. Are we really happy then?

Then there’s Christmas or other religious festivals, usually shared with people we know and love. A lot of effort goes into these occasions and we all complain about the cost, but we love it when it arrives, especially the giving and receiving of gifts that have been chosen carefully to bring happiness. After all, it doesn’t have to cost much: at my social club, our friends have a tradition of each finding a present for the others that costs no more than £1. It’s great fun searching these things out, wrapping them beautifully and having a laugh when they’re opened.

Weddings and christenings are also moments of happiness for many, including we who are invited to share in them. We like to stand together in groups talking about how beautiful the bride looks and how handsome her new husband is. “They make a lovely couple” and their happiness spreads out to us. Everyone loves a new baby too, discussing how much he looks just like his father, or how lovely she is, just like her mother…

It doesn’t have to be a special occasion, of course, for us to have these warm feelings. There’s happiness to be shared in, say, cooking a nice meal for someone special or giving our time to visit a lonely or housebound neighbour and simply having a talk or tidying up for them.

 

Perhaps you’ve noticed that all the situations mentioned so far have been times shared with other people. We like to group together to share happiness. It can even be at our local shop, sharing thoughts and feelings with someone, and we go on our way feeling uplifted and smiling. Maybe that person we joked with hadn’t spoken to anyone else for days. Sitting on a park bench, we may be able to offer a shoulder to cry on, for a good friend or even a stranger; sharing our worries always helps to release stress so that some kind of happiness can return. All these moments help us to feel good inside.

Are you now thinking back to those special occasions or simpler moments when you have shared happiness with others? For the most part, it seems that we are only aware of being happy in retrospect, thinking about past times and how we felt then. At the time itself, how often do we think, “Yes, I am happy now”?

The sense of real happiness can be deeper and more abiding when we develop an awareness of ourselves and our inner feelings. This mindfulness, along with gratitude for all we have, for life itself, can permeate everything we do, everywhere we go. It doesn’t have to be limited to ‘special occasions’ that we look back on later, and nor do we have to be with others to feel it.

As a lady getting on in years, may I share my feelings here? Each morning I go out into my garden, whatever the weather, to feel the wind and to smell the earth, to watch the clouds heavy with rain or the sun playing on the flowers. I just stand there, grateful for the day and feeling happy to be alive. Yes, like many others I have health issues, but the trap of self-pity doesn’t help anyone. I have my senses with which to appreciate the beauty of nature. I have a husband, family and friends, and my hobbies of painting and writing. So what if I can’t actually walk properly and get a good deal of pain – it’s better than not being able to move at all.

Happiness can be simple when we are thankful for our life, for family and friends and the strangers we meet along the way, when we are mindful of our inner self.

A Morning Poem

Good morning, what a lovely day

though the clouds grow tired of their heavy load,

releasing gentle rain

to cover the land and dusty roads,

the earth grows green again, refreshed with cleansing air

and sweetened by the flowers blooming there.

Good morning, what a lovely day,

though the breezy wind may sting

it wakens all the senses

with the energy it brings,

and we can breathe it in with renewed life

to free the mind and soul from inner strife.

Good morning, what a lovely day,

as sun shines weakly from within a cloudy sky

and warmth seeps slowly through my upturned face.

Patches of shadow silently slip by

as all the world lifts sleepy heads towards the light

and minds begin to open to new sights.

Good morning, what a lovely day,

when bright snow dazzles widening eyes,

all sparkling white, whether soft or crisp,

the drab earth’s now in mute disguise.

May I learn to love each new and different day

with gratitude for all I find along my way.

Sandy Phillips is the author of The Narrow Doorway, an account of her extraordinary life and spiritual experiences.

www.local-legend.co.uk

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