Thursday, August 06, 2009

Some thoughts on happiness

I was over on the Happiness Project website, Gretchen Rubin's amazing collection of happiness ideas and prompts (lots of great material there), where I found this delightful quote:
“In solitude I used to wander about the garden, alternately collecting birds’ eggs and meditating on the flight of time. If I may judge by my own recollections, the important and formative impressions of childhood rise to consciousness only in fugitive moments in the midst of childish occupations, and are never mentioned to adults. I think periods of browsing during which no occupation is imposed from without are important in youth because they give time for the formation of these apparently fugitive but really vital impressions.”
--Bertrand Russell, Autobiography

I believe this browsing that Bertrand Russell describes, is something we all do from time to time, and it is this browsing that is the source of creativity and happiness. I'm sure of it. Have you ever felt that sense of possibility and excitement of a magical day unfolding like on the first day of a vacation, or on the first day in a new place when you have no idea what is around the next corner? It's a day that will be filled with aimless collecting and browsing and joy.

Of course I used to think happiness was something you felt when you were able to achieve, get, or consume what ever you were supposed to achieve, get, or consume. My friends in Hamilton, Ontario and I had been reading Stephen Levine's "A Year to Live" and we got clarity about how we wanted to spend our "year to live". We all had critical, judging minds about how life should and shouldn't be. I thought if I could get to the Atlantic, get to where I could see the sun rise out of the ocean, then I would be happy. Then the opportunity came to move to Nova Scotia.

The interesting thing I observed was that although I had arrived at the life of my dreams, my judging mind had not turned off. It was still going strong with a constant running patter about preferences and judgements. Then of course I became curious about how the mind works when it is appreciating something vs. when it is judging something. It wasn't until I began to look into positive psychology research and the creation of a happy artist's life that I was able to quiet the judging mind. Now I am able to enjoy my life in this moment, without worrying about what I will be achieving, getting, or consuming in the future and without worrying about what I may have missed out on in the past, either. I enjoy my garden, collecting birds eggs and feathers, and making art. It's a happy artist's life!

If Bertrand Russell's description of wandering in a garden, collecting birds eggs and creating art sounds appealing to you, check the "top secret blogspot reader discount" button in the column on the right of this text. New eCourses are starting in September.

1 comment:

Bea said...

EXCELLENT POSTING! Since last year when I turned 60 I have been following my 20 SUMMERS philosophy.
The "live each day, each moment" just didn't do it for me. Somehow the 20 Summers give or take, Goddess willing, resonated in my brain. Wisconsin summer are short. They are packed full of life.
My main problem seems to be finding the "joy" the "bliss" in taking out the garbage and those endless daily chores. Dancing like Gene Kelly when I do it seems to help. I will check out the top secret button. :)Bea