Practicing Happiness

At 6:00 this morning I took my 10-year-old daughter to a Before Work Dance Party at Roots & Wings. It was a blast!

Beforehand, I wasn't so sure it would be. I'd been feeling tired and stiff and angsty, and was afraid I wasn't going to enjoy it. Specifically, I didn't want to show up at an event that should be fun and not actually have fun. And even more than that, I didn't want to feel like I had to pretend to have fun because I thought I was "supposed" to. (As the Gift of Happiness person, I'm supposed to be happy all the time... right?)

At another time in my life, I would have tried psyching myself up for this event byignoring my reservations and motivating myself with a pep talk: "This will be fun! You will enjoy it!" Then on the way there I would try to picture whatever I thought "fun" was supposed to look like. And once there, I would try to make myself look that way, to convince myself -- and everyone else -- that I was happy the way I "should" be. And it wouldn't have worked at all.

This morning, however, I talked to myself differently. "So you don't want to go," I said. "You have no idea what it will be like, and and you might not enjoy it. That's okay. It's going to be fine. What's important is that you said you would go, and it will feel good to keep your commitment." I did what I knew to be the right thing, and pretty much let go of everything else. And happiness was the reward.

I can point to all sorts of specific things that ended up being great about the morning -- the people, the movement, the free granola bars, hula hooping with Kat -- but I don't think it was any of those specifics that made me happy. Rather, it was the underlying sense that anything that happened there was going to be okay. It's the same sense I get from the song Kinder, by Copper Wimmin, which I just heard for the first time this morning. Beautiful!

I'm finding that it's pretty easy to come up with "rules" for creating happiness -- be true to yourself, be present in the moment, be unattached to results, etc. Breaking it down after the fact, it seems so simple, but as with so many things in life it is easier said than done. Like any great game, it's minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. May all of us have many more opportunities to practice.