Those who know me know that my life has been ‘on fire’ for the last little while. School was in full swing, work has been hectic, and home life has been exciting as usual. It has been about two years of craziness.
And as I sit in my living room today, with the smell of baking permeating my home (something I haven’t had time to do for quite a while) I got to thinking of a bet I made with a friend not long ago. We were out for lunch, at the height of both school and work stresses, and I was complaining about how I didn’t have time to be happy. I said something to the effect of “I’ll be happy when school is over! I’ll have time to balance out everything else, if school could just be done.” And so, the bet was made: As of 12:01am, January 1st, 2012, I am to be happy.
Well, the new year is fast approaching, as is the deadline for the bet. I’m happy to report that I am much more peaceful these days. And although being done school is definitely a help, I don’t think it’s the only reason for my new-found sense of ‘happy’. I think it’s related to something I am learning – to stop looking for happiness in the midst of stress, and to start recognizing happiness in unlikely places.
It’s easy to be happy when things are simple and slow. When there are no emails to answer, meetings to attend, deadlines to meet, or when the to-do list is at a minimum. The trick is to find, or rather recognize happiness when the phone is ringing off the hook, you are late or overdue for just about everything, and you haven’t even made a dent in your to-do list by 10pm every night.
The trick, I am learning, is to be present in what you are doing, no matter what it is. Happiness is there, but you have to be present enough to see it in everyday tasks. For example:
- If you are ironing pants, enjoy it for what it is: A quiet moment listening to a favorite song or watching a short t.v. program, and knowing you are making a nice difference to whomever will wear the freshly pressed pants
- If you are answering emails, enjoy the contact (even though it is remote) with the person to whom you are sending the email
- If you are cleaning the house, take pride in the fact that you own a property: It is your home – make it beautiful
Regardless of the task, no matter how big, small, pressing, mundane, or redundant – be present. Enjoy it for what it is. Savor it for the time it affords you, to do what you are doing, in that particular moment. And while this doesn’t mean that you will always find happiness in your most stressful moments, it might help you recognize happiness when it seems nowhere to be found.