So I have been on hiatus for the past week. Spending time within; resting and restoring. It’s a time of big change, not just for myself, but for most people these days. A lesson I learned along the way is knowing when to hold em and when to fold em. The ability to know when you need a well deserved break to go within so that your lotus can continue to blossom; and blossom it did last night. In our last chat Are Your Feet Happy Today? I shared about my prior career as a daaancer….in particular tap dancer. From the ages of 3 to 19 I took jazz and tap dance classes and loved it; especially tap. I was a shy kid (for those that only know me now I understand how that could be hard to imagine:) But when I got on stage all those insecurities flew out the window. I have always wanted to return to tap over the years but there was always some reason that I couldn’t. I would put on my old tap shoes and play around performing for friends at times but never did I commit to going back to something that was so amazing. I know you can relate, right? It’s insane how we can deprive ourselves from experiencing joy as adults because we have better more stressful things to worry about. So last weekend without thinking twice I called the teacher, found out class began this week, bought new shoes and I was off. Last night for the first time in over two decades I put on happy feet and tapped away. It was exciting, fun and frustrating as my mind tried to perfect something that I hadn’t done in a very long time. It was a beginning, an opportunity to witness my mind, my ego and finally my body as it began to remember what I left behind so long ago. The fire of my passion had begun to burn again. While my experience wasn’t totally over the top amazing right off the bat, it was a beginning. A beginning of tapping (pun intended) into my heart which is where true happiness resides.
Over the past week, I have continued along my research of happiness both in reading and speaking with anyone I encounter about this new found fascination. It has been especially enlightening talking to people about the possibility of becoming happier. Some people have been like “ya, wooo hooo we could all be a little happier” and others giving me excuses as to why they or others should not be expected to try to become happier. Again, the theme of happiness is for some but not for all rears it’s ugly head. My subjective research on the subject has been the most intriguing. The resistance to happiness can lie within all of us especially when we adopt the static and fixed disease model of understanding health or shall I say dis-ease. As I shared in my last post, attaching to limiting labels for sure will limit your ability to heal. If our identity gets wrapped up in a diagnosis that we are given, it can be nearly impossible to imagine who you would be without that diagnosis. Effectively you BECOME your diagnosis. Martin Seligman discusses in his book “Authentic Happiness” that we have a “set point” in our ability to be happy. His research has shown that our ability to be happy can be genetically engineered just like mental illness. While this may be true, he discusses that everyone has the capability of living in the upper range of their happiness set point. Happiness is for ALL not some. He also reinforces the notion that happiness does not come from living on what he terms the “hedonic treadmill” that Americans are on. We indulge ourselves in instant gratification thinking that a candy bar, new clothes, sex, alcohol, chocolate cake (flourless my downfall) is going to increase our happiness. The happiness we get through external resources is fun, yummy, instantaneous but fleeting and eventually empty. Even the happiness from that vacation we save up for is gone once we get back to work. The key is to begin to look within to ignite the passionate fire. Ron Gilman shared in his Ted talk on the Power of smiling
that it takes 22,000 chocolate bars to match the brain chemistry of one smile. Babies in utero are smiling and when they are born they smile naturally. It is adults who have forgotten how to smile because they have lost their ability to be content with who and where they are.
How do we recapture the fire within? Well that’s an individual process. I am definitely not the person who will ever serve up the 10 or 12 steps to happiness. That is yours to discover with the support of a friendly professional/fellow human being over a cup of tea:) It may be picking up an old passion like I did or discovering new things that you love. Sometimes this process takes courage. For me I think it just took being fed up to be honest:) I was sick of my own excuses and instead of continuing down that road I took the other path. It’s possible it may occur for you in a similar way. One question to meditate on is “what is causing you to put off your happiness for tomorrow?” If money, time, energy come to mind as your excuses of the moment. I can tell you that when you commit to igniting the fire nothing gets in the way. The money comes, you find the time and doing what you love gives you the energy to do more. I believe that we all can live within the upper range of our happiness set point (if that exists.) The biggest piece that needs to be in place is your willingness to believe in this possibility. Our mind is a powerful thing. If you believe it’s possible, most likely it is. If you believe it’s not, well you get the picture. I have worked with a lot of people with limiting beliefs over the years who end up getting limited results. I also have seen people with the most challenges that could be ever given to a human being thrive despite those challenges. It’s like my friend Forrest Gump said once “Life is like a box of chocolates….you never know what you are going to get.” While this statement is often made about life’s challenges, I like to think about the sweetness within the challenge. As a chocolate fan, I say BRING ON THE CHOCOLATE! While the process of living authentically is not easy, it is also not as hard as we can make it out to be. Any change or shift in the direction of your heart will put you on a different path.
What passionate, fun, maybe even silly thing will you do today to boost that set point?
Burn that fire!