Ask any happy person why they are happy and what will they tell you?
‘I am happy because…’
What does their sentence finish with? Well, the truth is, it could be anything!
So, that’s not really helpful is it. Sorry. You are reading this post to find the ‘secret of happiness’ and I’ve just told you that it could be anything.
Weird Vegan Idiot.
Hang on… lets think about this for a second.
It could be anything.
Ok, let’s think about a homeless person for example. Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking. You think i’m going to tell you that you should just BE happy with your life because there are people who have nothing.
Nope. That doesn’t work. There are very unhappy millionaires. Having ‘everything’ you want doesn’t make you happy. That’s not where happiness comes from.
So anyway… this homeless person. If I were to ask them what makes them happy, they could answer ‘A warm place to sleep.’
Now, we all have this right? We can’t say that it doesn’t make us happy, because having a warm place to sleep doesn’t make us unhappy. We are indifferent because it is always there. We go to our bed every night and wake up without giving a second thought to it. We think about a billion other stresses or worries while we are trying to fall into sleep, but we don’t really think about the bed, and how comfortable it is. How crisp and cold it is to climb into and how it slowly regulates to our body temperature and then warms up to create a blissfully cosy pod of relaxation.
We may notice it when we have changed the sheets. Who doesn’t love that feeling of climbing into a newly made bed? Or we may love getting into our own bed when we have been away for a while… How about he rest of the time? It’s just a part of our life that slips by without acknowledgement.
Back to the homeless person. Lets imagine they were able to spend a night in your bed. Not some magical, fancy schmansy, 5 star, mythical, unicorn bed.
Imagine them seeing your bed for the first time. Visualise them walking into your bedroom (lets assume you have tidied up first!) and watch as their eyes light up at size of the bed, far from the tiny sheet of cardboard that would only be adequate room for a Spaniel to rest on.
Imagine them sliding under the duvet, and feeling the weight of it gently hugging their tired body. Nothing like the ripped bin bag that rustled angrily in the most pathetic of winds.
Resting their head on your pillow, allowing their cheek to sink slowly into it’s soft kiss. See their face relax, notice the serene smile as they exhale a long breath. Feeling every inch of the soft, smooth, clean fabric on their skin. Smelling every note of the fresh, vibrant scent of the washing powder you picked up on sale.
Living every moment. Noticing every detail. Lingering on every feeling in an attempt to burn it into their memory and relive it when the following evening comes and they are back in their spot in the car park.
Are they lying there staring blankly up at the ceiling and feeling upset that it will only be tonight? Are they dreading waking in the morning, knowing they will have to leave this wonderful place? Are they reminiscing about being mean to their colleague a few years back and wishing they had apologised? Are they thinking about how crap Christmas will be this year now that they don’t have a place to live?
Right now, they are Happy.
Right there. In your bed.
Warm. Comfortable. Safe. Relaxed.
So what is the secret to happiness?
Well, I have come to realise it’s a mixture of 2 things.
Awareness and gratitude.
Gratitude is something that I will go on to talk more about in another post, as it certainly deserves it’s own explanation, and I have a fabulous trick to retrain your brain with it.
Awareness is what the homeless person has, that you don’t have, in this situation. This experience did not pass them by unnoticed. They fully immersed themselves into it with all of their senses and noticed every single detail with pure joy and contentment.
Too often we miss the things that have the potential to make us happy because they are all part of a routine that we blindly follow, too busy thinking about all the things from yesterday that we can’t change, and the situations of tomorrow that may not even happen.
So the first step to happiness is noticing what makes you happy, and staying with it long enough to really experience it.
Do you really love that first sip of fresh coffee in the morning?
Then tomorrow, remember to savor it. Make sure you aren’t doing anything else for that moment.
Notice the colour of the coffee. Watch the milk swirl beautifully as you pour it in. Feel the warmth of the mug as your hands wrap round it. Use both hands so that you really feel all of it. Bring it to your lips and breath the aroma into your nose. Close your eyes. What can you smell? ‘Just coffee’? But what does coffee smell of? Take a sip and feel the silky smooth liquid on your lips. Feel the blood rush to them as the heat takes over. Notice your chest warm up as you swallow the first mouthful. Taste it. Really taste it. What else tastes similar?
Obviously this is just an example. If you don’t like coffee, do this with something else. In fact, do this with everything else.
Live your life like a homeless person sleeping in your bed.
Fully in the moment.
Happiness is this.
Happiness is now.