April 12, 2013: Happy

Reflecting on "happy" at M's Pub

Happy. A common comment I have been hearing recently. "Sandy, you look really happy." I get this feedback unsolicited and many times, unexpectedly. I have received random messages saying the same and off comments from acquaintances I haven't seen in years. And I can't argue. I'm glad I wear it on my sleeve. I am very happy.

Today I reflected a bit on this word, happy. What does that really mean? And why is now different than ten years ago? I have always felt like a positive person. What's different now? I know I feel very content and happy, but the feedback from the outside is overwhelming.

Today I sat in a meeting among eight very creative people. I was listening to a presentation I have heard many times before. My mind was wandering as I stared at an aqua blue painted wall. The thought crossing my mind was on this awesome color being my favorite. I had visions of painting my basement art room this electric color. It defines happy to me.

The thought led to a probing question; why am I so happy? As I reflected on my life today and changes from my old content norm, singular words came to mind. With these words came thoughts of the simplicity of our human nature. No matter our circumstances, social status, or perceived degree of success; we all yearn for the same basic feelings and affirmations.

Happiness comes from appreciation. Most err in believing appreciation is equated to money or a pat on the back. Both are nice affirmations, but humans innately want to feel that their strengths, talents, and contributions are genuinely appreciated. There is no better bonus.

Happiness comes from feeling love and giving love. Being desired sure isn't bad either. We all love the dance. The challenge is to recognize that growing in love is work. I have been well schooled on the gift of mutual love and respect. These have been good lessons and have brought great joy.

Happiness comes from giving. Giving one's self in compassion, unconditional love, and understanding can be a smile to a stranger or an ear to a friend. Motive means everything. Selflessness in the simple act of giving is a gift to the recipient and a happy heart for the giver. It really is more fulfilling to give than to receive.

Happiness is being comfortable in your own skin. Striving for the "best you" is putting your best foot forward while embracing the uniqueness God gave each one of us. We all have our own unique skill set, personality, and physical presence. Embracing it and not fighting it leads to inner happiness.

So how does one attain happiness? In my experience, it really came down to age and life experience. With the attainment of my forties and a few bumps in the road, the perception of happiness took a new turn with a fresh set of eyes. I have learned to appreciate the great things in life that are many times the small or intangible things. Mid-life really can be a great gig. And happy is quite enjoyable :)

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