“Playing it safe will always end in disaster.”
Banksy, Street Artist
Recently I had a new client. As I always do, she came and sat in my office and I began with my initial interview. Name, address, phone number. I asked a number of standard questions and then we began to discuss her goals.
“I used to be a workshop junkie,” she told me. “For awhile, I got rail thin because I heard that everything was bad for you so I was afraid to eat anything.
“I was dreading this part of the interview,” she confessed to me. “I am tired of fixing myself. I just want to be happy.”
My new client is a professional artist. Like many artists, she sees the world entirely differently than the way that most people do. She was telling me that she didn’t want to see problems in herself. She realized that there may be a few things that get improved along the way of our work together. She just wants to focus on being the best she can be, which involves being her true self rather than trying to match someone else’s goals of how she should look, act or think.
I found her approach so entirely refreshing that I set aside all the rest of my usual questions and we began to discuss the science of happiness.
My dog Belle knows how to be happy. Her favourite cookies at the moment are gingerbread dog cookies from Trader Joe’s.
When I bought these cookies, I bought four boxes, but the guy at the Buckhead Trader Joe’s checkout counter told me a lady had been to the store the day before and bought 24 boxes of gingerbread dog cookies.
I had never before bought gingerbread dog cookies, though they seemed like a good idea at the time.
Had I known just how popular these dog cookies would be, I too would have bought 24 boxes of gingerbread dog cookies just to get us through the next 12 months before Trader Joe’s carries them again for the 2012 Christmas season.
I have subsequently gone back to the store, only to discover that Trader Joe’s is sold out of these cookies, system wide. They are really that good.
Little Belle eats raw dog food and/or the healthiest dog food I can find. But like me and my human clients, she does 80/20 or 90/10. There’s healthy and then there are cookies, or, as my 7-year-old niece puts it, “My healthy tank is full but my sweet tank is still empty.”
Once recently I bought dog cookies that are supposed to be good for the teeth.
Little Belle could care less.
She is very clear about what makes her happy.
In addition to gingerbread dog cookies, there’s also running after her toys, her favourite form of exercise, and being with me, any time of day in any form or fashion, whether it’s coming to work, taking a walk or going on a road trip. Lastly, I can tell that she likes to help people. She comes to almost all of my sessions (except for those where my clients are not dog people or I actually have another animal for a client). She is the first to greet all newcomers and she likes to get on my massage table if I am doing healing work. I have frequently witnessed her lick or snuggle with my clients, especially if they are feeling bad.
Her simple but fulfilling life exemplifies the ways we can all be happy.
Physical pleasure. Soul satisfaction. Life meaning.
My new client and I discussed the various ways that she experiences physical pleasure (mountain biking, eating), soul satisfaction (being in nature, walking her dogs) and life meaning (creating art).
We also talked about how she could take what she is already doing to a whole new level.
We can solve many problems not by addressing the problems themselves head on but by raising our vibration to such an extent that the problems no longer exist.
If we focused so much on our own happiness through taking care of our bodies through physical pleasure – eating really high quality food, moving in ways that make us feel really really good – there would no longer be a problem of poor physical health.
If we focused on our own happiness through satisfying our soul with activities that are actually deeply rewarding for us – being with people we love, doing what we love to do – there would no longer be a problem of poor mental/emotional health.
And if we focused on our own happiness through finding the deeper meaning in everything we do, connecting the part to the whole and the whole to the part, we would no longer be filling the empty parts of our souls with food, drugs (legal or illegal), alcohol, overworking, over exercising or other addictive behaviours.
At this time of year when so many people begin to contemplate New Year’s resolutions, in this time in our history when so many people are truly challenged on all levels, I encourage you to ask yourself, “What makes me truly happy?”
What are the real, true sweet spots in your life? If you can’t think of any, that’s the problem. Get out of your box, leave the house and start looking for them.
Taking the time to make yourself happy could be the least selfish thing you do all day. When you are feeling good, you have the energy and the patience to be kind and loving and considerate to other people. You also lift up other people through your joyfulness.
As I am always saying at the end of my yoga classes, when we are all feeling physically relaxed, emotionally calm and spiritually fulfilled, set your intention to carry this feeling with you the rest of the day, the rest of the week, the rest of your life. Allow this state of being to become your new normal.
“You don’t need planning commission approval to build castles in the sky.”
Banksy, the street artist