"Are you happy?" This is our toddler's favorite question these days, and what a vital one it is. That I am three and a half months post-partum, and just getting back into the saddle, with body projects, work projects, family and life projects all splayed and projected out in front of me, it's sort of uncanny how great the timing of her query is.
Why? Because each time she asks my foggy nursing mama self, I am sucked directly back into the present moment, into the most immediate and direct experience of life at hand, as is, unadorned by fantasy or airbrushing. The most shocking thing about all this is that no matter how tired or crabby or overwhelmed I might be feeling, my answer is always yes.
Seriously, when I really absorb her three little words, when she's found me daydreaming on the breast pump, or nursing Liam on one side while I write the shopping list or scroll through emails or jam a rice cake into my mouth with my free hand, it's like I collide head, heart, and spirit with the jewel of the present, and inside this glowing jewel exists nothing other than love and glory and bliss at just being alive.
Given how much time I spend wandering around consumed by how stellar life will be once I lose the last five pregnancy pounds, get my book written, get the baby to sleep through the night, that to realize quite suddenly that I am happy right now is miraculous. It stops me in my tracks and completely dissolves the whole happiness-with-a-capital-H as being far off, over there somewhere.
I urge you now, in this precious moment, to stop for a sec and really look around. Receive what is deeply, intricately happening inside and outside of you. And do this multiple times throughout the day -- if you want to use my daughter's cue as a spark, go for it! Ask, "Am I happy?" and pause, let it reverberate and guide you.
There are so many gems of happiness right underneath your, my, all our noses.
If you're into journaling and I haven't quite convinced you, make a list each day for a week of all the opportunities you come across to seize the inherent wonder and delight of now. I call this exercise "Today's Versions of Happy."
Here's an example of one of my lists:
- Baby on belly, me bleary-eyed, legs unshaven, sun not yet up
- Kids drumming on bongos, Sesame Street on, TIRED, mug of coffee and hot rice milk
- Crazy workout, sweat dripping down and soaking through my clothes
- Falling into restorative yogic trance, blessed sliver of peace
- Huge salad and plate of garlicky greens on table just before digging in, THANK YOU
- Connecting with hubby about life and everything in middle of night, only pocket of time
Get the picture? For all you other happiness seekers out there, if we begin to document, to accumulate and pay attention to our little moments of bliss, we begin to see that 1.) we are a whole lot happier a whole lot more of the time than we think, and that 2.) we need not spend so much time imagining and pushing for something better down the road.
Letting go of all this searching for greener grass and replacing it with simply being is huge. It is a profound breakthrough into grace and enables us to commune with our deepest selves and with the divine, so big, so encompassing, and infusing of every single thing around and within us with a cosmic version of happy in the ever present.
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