Feb 25, 2009

The habit of being happy...

Last night, after the theatre, I was sitting in Trash Palace, drinking lemonade of all things, with a friend who knows me better than most. 

'L' has seen my spoilt-brat-meangirls-on-campus era, sat wide-eyed and expectant through my early 20s love, work & play dramas, and most importantly she was there to hold my hand through the darker period of my life that started with a breakup and ended with a bleak, no-light-at-end-of-the-tunnel-depression. 

Yes... She has seen it all.

So it always halts me in my tracks when I sit back and realise just how far we have both come. I won't go into to her life story as it's personal to her, but I'm proud of her transformation... from when I knew her back then to who she is now. I don't think I tell her enough. Usually I'm naturally good at empathy, not so much sympathy (empathy is where you relate and sympathy is where you become), and last night I was neither... I focused on where I was and where i thought she should be (same place as me of course).. which was not the right way about it. 

Yes… I still have a lot to learn!

Still our discussion became deeper as we both relaxed into our roles around each other… both of us giving each other food for thought. One question in particular was brought up. What is happiness? L, ever the creative, described her 'happiness' as the colours, sights, smells and sounds, etc the sensory information we receive in order to 'feel' the emotion of being happy. The answer for me is an intuition... its something i just know, is now a way of life and relatively easy for me to find again, regardless of where I am and what I'm experiencing.

Does that mean that 'feel' good emotions become easier to have and more common the more we experience that state? And so is happiness just a habit anyone can develop?

Candice Pert in her book 'Molecules of Emotion' talks about the creation or re-formation of neuropathways that release certain chemicals that trigger a particular 'feeling' if they are accessed multiple times. The more they are 'accessed' the stronger the formation of the neuropathway that releases the chemical and so a 'feeling' can develop into habit and further more into an addiction. If this is so… how can we 'develop' this happy preferred state so becomes a natural one?

In my perception/reality, regardless of the life you have, place you are… happiness comes from within. It is your perception of the choices in life that you have made. In short its your spin on the situation that can make it a good or bad one. And the more you reach for the positive, the easier it will be next time round. For example… I've written this post twice. The first time I must admit my style was a lot more eloquent… but my laptop crashed and I lost the whole thing. It is easier for the me now to 'let it go' and re-write it again. After all the words came from me, I'm still here… so theres no rule to say I can't re-create from me again the next-time, if not better! I don't have the old draft to compare but I like to think so ;)

L hit the nail on the head when she talked about happiness being the senses, as it is a feeling we have, a state we are in… happiness is not from the mind, it is not a thought. Yet a happy sense or feeling can come from a thought, but only from a positive thought. And so the key to being happy lies in our perception, our reality and our beliefs that we live our life by everyday. They are the restrictions we box ourselves in by, the limits we invest in, the rules we entertain…. And these in turn can be defined by the society we live in, our parents and teachers, the social circles we blend to, and the information we process.

Richard Bach in his book 'Illusions' wrote "If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem."

Its taken a while to get here, but my happiness is not dependent on anyone else. I don't live in a reality defined by others. I try to keep my boundaries limitless. I make and follow my own rules. And when you only have yourself to blame, and you love & respect who you are and the choices you have made... how can you be frustrated/angry/upset with the life you have?

After everything I've been through, I can now honestly say 'I love my life and I am happy' even when its not all roses. I've developed good habits… I'm more 'accepting', I'm more 'content' with the moment, to just let it be… and to just 'be'.

Summed up? Stuart Wilde had it right when he said "Life was never meant to be a struggle…". I completely agree.


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