I understand the root of most of my unhappiness today.
I was at a beautiful nursery when a woman's 4 year old son was screaming that he wanted to be at the zoo. She turned around and firmly said, “Be happy right where you are, right now." He settled down and I got a really important life lesson I keep repeating to myself over and over again.
I’m very much like this 4 year old. I want to be somewhere else, I want something better, I crave more than I have.
So why can’t I be happy right where I am, right now?
My brain is wired in a way that I constantly strive for “more.” I think this fundamental urge, this underlying dissatisfaction, drives us to build skyscrapers and to conquer neighboring kingdoms. I also know it drives us to protest injustice and topple corrupt governments. Not all good, not all bad.
However, this instinct, this drive for “more”, doesn’t serve me very well in myeveryday life. I say things like, “I have a great job, but I want a promotion.” This is ironic because I like doing exactly what I’m doing, why do I want to do something else? This drive for more doesn’t know how to turn itself off so I have to intervene.
Some tips for being happy right where you are, right now:
- Mindfulness: Take a deep breath, let go of your thoughts and really experience where you are right now. Try to bring a sense of curiosity and wonder to the present moment. Mindfulness can even make a boring traffic light an oasis from a crazy day. Mindfulness lets us savor the good moments and enjoy them fully.
- Let Go: We are pushed and pulled by our wants and desires. A primary advantage of our daily meditation experience is the ability to witness thecontent of our conscious mind. When you see dissatisfaction, wanting, craving, greed or anger, note it and let it go. (Over and over again!)
- Gratitude List: This is a favorite exercise of mine. Our perspective on a situation can be changed and help us be happy right where we are. Do I have a job I don’t like or am I lucky to have a paycheck? List three things you are grateful right now and you can shift your view to the positive things in your life.
- Compassionate Act: Nothing is as sure and quick of a remedy for dissatisfaction than taking a kind action to help someone else. If my problem is in-between my ears, shifting my focus to someone else is an immediate fix. It feels good to be good to someone else. A simple act, like opening the door for someone or taking an extra moment to really listen to a coworker, is an act ofkindness and can do the trick.
What do you do to be happy right here, right now? I'd love to know!
May your practice go well.
Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed.