Monday, November 16, 2015

Happiness Part Two

I finally finished Looking at Mindfulness" by Christophe Andre .  I am very aware of the irony of really wanting to finish a book on mindfulness so I can get on with reading other things.  However reading this book and some related conversations with Sophie have made me realize that I don't have a healthy philosophy of happiness to teach the children.  It wasn't even something I thought I would need to teach them, but as one is a girl who has a lot of worries who easily finds sads easily she might need a framework to access her happies.
My received framework for happiness was that it was something perfect people had.  They had good money and good lives and they were therefore happy (I wrote about this here).  We were poor and cursed (by gods or previous bad decisions) to be unhappy.  How you felt was not something you controlled, except in perhaps getting more money and maybe becoming one the perfect people.
Artwork by Ellen Uytewaal:
Artwork by Ellen Uytewaal
But in being more open with people and learning as I age, I know this version of the world is untrue.  Outside looks tell us nothing about the inside state of a person.  That it is in sharing our own cracks and hearing about those of others that we can become stronger.  I am not alone on this journey.  We are each carrying burdens and I have no particular right to be happy at any point in time.  I can work to capture those moments of happy that are in my life, in the ordinary spaces, but I will only make myself fail if I waiting for the perfect moment with "enough" before I count myself happy.
My children love youtube and sometimes I overhear them watching a "draw my life" video.  These are usually crude drawings done while a person tells their life story.  I couldn't understand the attraction to these videos, but more and more I think these are that same as the sharing we doing in circle.  These videos are raw, but they are real.  Many of these people come from hard backgrounds and many are learning disabled.  I wonder if that is the real attraction for my children to see people like them being able to find their space in the world and be happy with what they do even when they did not do well or like school.
So I have found myself the last few nights and in circle this weekend, talking about what I learnt from this book by Andre, to pay attention to the small things, not to expect everything to be perfect and to acknowledge your sadness while remembering paint in all the other colors of your day as well.  I realize that this is a lesson I will need to repeat many times for my children and act out in my life as well.  I never thought of happiness as being something you could work at, it was always binary for me, but even 5% is better than nothing and there is always something in my life that is good. It is not about becoming a Pollyanna and pretending that things are perfect when they aren't, but about walking a balanced red road.

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