happiness

Create A Sacred Space

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When was the last time you felt like you were in a sacred place of refuge, a place where you wanted to light a candle, take off your shoes and just be? As I write this, I am sitting in my favorite corner, it's near a balconette, and a curtain that sways with the breeze. I made the area cozy with a blanket and pillows. I have an old wooden typewriter box, that is topped with candles, books, and my beautiful mala beads. This is where I try to begin every morning. I sit here with a cup of tea and just breathe. I seek to cultivate peace here in this very spot. It's a small space, but it's my haven.

"I am going to make everything around me beautiful. That will be my life." - Elsie de Wolfe

Marie Kondo stated it perfectly there is a power in surrounding ourselves with things which "spark joy". When was the last time that you walked through your home and removed those things which do not spark joy? Objects can so often trigger memories which can affect your thoughts. Sometimes removing physical items, can help you to process emotional baggage. Consider removing those things which feed negative thoughts and perpetuate unfulfilling patterns. It's important to be encircled by those things which make your heart happy.

"Happiness is the choice I make today. It does not rest on my circumstances but on my frame of mind. I surrender any emotional habits that lead me down the path of unhappiness and pray for guidance in shifting my thoughts. In cultivating the habits of happiness, I attract the people and situations that match its frequency." - Marianne Williamson

This past weekend as I was sitting on my living room floor I thought about how content I am that my apartment reminds me of my childhood home. My parents worked very hard to cultivate a home base for my sisters and myself, to this day I treasure the hand painted floors, the German curtains and the glass balls in the window (even the one I poked a hole into). I am not talking about being focused on material items, we each need to live within our means. But some of my favorite places are those where the exterior is a bit shabby but when you open the door you step into a magical place.

Practical Step

June Saruwatari says to look at every item you own through what she calls a fourfold lens of "truth, love, meaning, purpose":

  • Do you honestly need this item?
  • Do you love it?
  • Does it have some sort of significance in your life?
  • Does it serve a purpose?

While we may dream of cultivating our entire home into a place which sparks joy, let's begin with a tiny corner, this is where our morning ritual can bloom.

Invent your world. Surround yourself with people, color, sounds and work that nourish you. - Susan Ariel Rainbow K.

The Search For Happiness

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Yesterday, a friend asked me if I was happy. Truly happy. I said “yes", but that once I didn’t have to stress about money, I felt I would be much happier. He responded half jokingly saying “That’s such materialism, all you really need is love, right?”. Then another friend messaged me a brutally honest link to an article about dating, she pondered “how will our culture ever recover from Tinder” which led us to discussing how “hipsters” don’t seem to know how to be content. I felt like I was beginning to notice a trend…“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” - Brene Brown

While it is incredibly important to challenge ourselves, to push for growth, it is just as vitally important to pause, to meditate, to have solitude, to be gratefulfor the beauty of the present moment. Too often we swing the pendulum. Black and white, is so much easier than walking the thin tightrope of grey. We are either hustling like crazy people or vegging out on Netflix (I’m so guilty! I mean have you seen Jessica Jones, it’s addicting). Our culture seems to be losing some of those simple moments of tradition, whether that be sitting down for a meal with family or bowing our heads for a moment of thankfulness. I mean the church has screwed up royally, after all it’s fabric is composed of people like you and I (who unfortunately don’t always have our shit together). But one thing I appreciate from my upbringing in the church and the south (two seriously politically incorrect subjects in one sentence) is that people who most often had the least to give, gave the most. After one rather brutal season of my life, I spent almost a week with a relative of mine, who was a nun at a monastery in the middle of nowhere. Being in her community revealed to me how a simple moment such as the sharing of an orange between two individuals can be a deep experience of love. Giving generously out of whatever you might have (wealth, talent, words) that is beautiful, that is happiness made tangible.

In today’s fast-paced world we need to surround ourselves with words, pictures, and people, that remind us to pause, to contemplate and to not take a single moment for granted. A mentor of mine has gifted me with several "giving keys” that help to remind me of what is important in my life. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Recently, an incredible friend of mine passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident. When his family went into his bedroom the day he died, they found a powerful quote scrawled on his board “Leave people better than you found them”.

“All human beings seek the happy life, but many confuse the means - for example, wealth and status - with that life itself. This misguided focus on the means to a good life makes people get further from the happy life. The really worthwhile things are the virtuous activities that make up the happy life, not the external means that may seem to produce it.” - Epictetus  

Experiment: What happens this week when instead of focusing on personal happiness, we try to infuse happiness into the lives of those around us?

Dream Defender, Esther Maria Swaty Uncommon Cartography

Thought Provoking Articles Inspiring Me This Week - Is Staying In The New Going Out? - In An Age Of Privilege, Not Everyone Is In The Same Boat - The Rise Of The Creative Citizen