I’ve read stacks of books on being happier. I’ve developed good habits, cultivated positive self talk and wrote pages affirmations. I wouldn’t say that I’m an unhappy person. But I’ve been sold on the idea that I can have a life of ease and comfort. That I’ll be floating on a cloud of constant bliss if I carefully follow all the steps laid out in one of my many books.
It’s didn’t do very much other than keep me occupied for a period of time. It wasn’t until I picked up a book on mindful meditation and started living in the present moment that I found out what true happiness is.
Being in the moment, whether it’s a perfect moment or one that I hope is over soon, opens the door for exploration and delight in ways I never thought possible.
When I’m feeling uncomfortable, like at the dentist for instance, I often will become curious about my resistance to being in that chair. I’ll experience that prickly sensation I get on my arms when I hear any of the equipment turn on. In my mind I’ll create a space where I look for a place of peace amidst my thoughts of “make this stop”. I”ll breathe deeply and intentionally relax my body. It transforms a situation that I want to escape into into a richer experience I want to learn more about while I lean into.
I used to think that every situation in which I was uncomforable was going to last forever. Delayed gratification wasn’t a strong suit of mine. But having the ability to reign in the desire to escape the bad places also helps to strengthen our willpower. Willpower is like a muscle in that it gets tired after a while and the energy is exhausted. By being present and developing self discipline to get through the trying times, we’re actually strengthening our willpower, which often helps us stay focused and work hard towards getting out of the situation. In the case of the dentist, it helps me quietly allow the dentist to do his work, which means he gets done faster and I’m out the door in shorter order.
There’s beauty in all parts of life. Our struggles are usually our greatest teachers and push us to places we never thought possible. The authentic happiness that comes from living a full and engaged life is richer than the fleeting happines that we experience only when things are going out way.
Dive in and enjoy a swim, regardless of the water.