Friday, June 26, 2015

Happiness

I was recently interviewed for a program that I am very passionate about: Project Reveal! (See the video here.)  The topic was happiness.  What is happiness? Is it a choice? Can things make you happy? What truly makes me happy?
This is what I've come up with:

Outside; These are the things that make me happy for a little while.  They may not have anything to do with inner soulful happiness, but they are still great.

1. Turtle sundaes--Vanilla ice cream smothered in hot fudge, caramel, pecans, and whipped cream? Yes please.  While a turtle sundae will only make me happy for an hour or so, it DOES help my mood for that time too.  About an hour in is when I realize that maybe it wasn't such a good idea and start debating whether it was worth it.

2. Comfy clothes that make me look good--I love some serious comfort, and mega bonus points if I happen to look good while wearing them too.  I have this great cotton pencil skirt that I love because it makes me look pretty classy without restricting my breathing or giving me a major muffin top.  Yes, yoga pants are great too, but they aren't the bees knees in my opinion; I just don't feel very nice in yoga pants unless I'm on my way to yoga.

3. Snuggles--They really are the best way to help my mood for a little while.  Extra special Annika & Mayzie & Andy snuggles are the BEST way to turn my frown upside down

Inside: These are the things that touch my soul and make me feel whole again when I'm down.  The happiness that these spread through me cannot be touched.

1. Relationships--This is what really makes me happy on the inside.  All kinds of relationships influence my internal happiness.  My family relationships come first for me.  The time I get to spend with my children, husband, brothers, parents is essential for my happiness.  This is one of the reasons we moved closer to family upon our return from Berlin.  My friends are also essential to my happiness, including the ones who are far away and that I don't get to talk to very often.  Is there anything better than getting a random phone call at 9pm on a Tuesday from a friend in a far off state? The conversations we have fuel my soul and keep me grounded in a way that I sincerely appreciate.  The way to my heart is through my brain, and the best relationships I have are with people who understand that.

2. Experiences--There are so many experiences that have made me happy, that I can't even begin to count. Meeting amazing people, working hard on a big project to completion, doing something new---all of these things are experiences that soothe my soul and make me feel happy.

3. Helping Others--There is no greater way to make me happy than to make other people happy and/or to bring them comfort.  As I say in the episode, this is why I became a doula.  This is why my life's passion is to help others enjoy and understand childbirth.  This is why I volunteer my time doing things that promote well-being in the community.  Helping others helps my soul too, which is why there is this debate as to whether or not there really is such a thing as altruism since we all get something back from helping others.  This debate does not interest me, mostly because who cares if we get something back from helping others, whatever the motivation is to do it doesn't matter, only that you do it.

Both: Then there are the things that feed both my soul and my yearning for a little happiness right in this very moment.

1. Yoga--Is there anything better than getting out of your head and getting fully into your body while at the same time focusing on your breath and changing your perspective? A great yoga teacher gets me to do all of these things, and a great yoga class will make me be introspective and feel physically better at the same time.  Other exercise also helps, but yoga feeds me body and soul.

2.  Sunrise/Sunset Walks/Runs--Similarly, walking anywhere while the sun is rising or setting speaks to both my body and soul. I become contemplative and reflective.  The moments are fleeting, and remind me of the brevity of this life.  I've had so many of these walks, but some of my favorites:
2003: Sunrise walk on the beach with Andy when he asked me to marry him.
2007: Sunset walk on the beach with Nadia talking about our future plans.
2009: Sunrise run on the beach in northern California, when I planned my running re-entry.
2014: Sunset stroll along the Mauerweg with Andy and the girls past a canal and horse pastures.


3. Travel--Nothing comes close to making me happy in the moment and for a long time as traveling!  It doesn't even need to be far away, but sometimes is.  Oh the places I have gone that are forever etched in my memory and soul.  My travels are so much more than stamps on my passport or miles on my car; they are the memories that I go back to again and again when I need a little happiness in my day/week/month/year. They are the dreams that I have for the future too. Yes, the list of places I want to visit is a mile long, but I know that I can die a happy woman from my travel experience memories.  Bonus points: extra great stories for the old folks' home.

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