I recently found myself engaged in a conversation where I was suddenly and unexpectedly asked to name 3 things that made me happy.
This question was presented to me after I had just completed a 3 day Advanced Feldenkrais Training with Russell Delman, a highly respected Feldenkrais Trainer who presented his work “The Embodied Life”TM. His work incorporates deep personal introspection along with gentle self inquiry. Oooo, what perfect timing! I took the question very seriously and slowly began to consider my response, giving it the thoughtful consideration it deserved, accepting the question on a deep philosophical level. After all, what is happiness? What does it mean, “to be happy”? Does it come from an external source, or from somewhere deep within ourselves?
My silence startled my “conversation companion”, who came to the immediate (and erroneous) conclusion that I was sad, unhappy, and/or lonely. She had expected me to give a knee-jerk response listing the people and the things that made me happy, as if my happiness must be someone else’s responsibility, and not my own. Now, that did make me sad. I realized that so many of us have unrealistic demands on our friends, family, co-workers, and personal possessions to make us happy. It’s a habit or pattern of expectation that has been reinforced over the years and the major roadblock (in my opinion) to understanding our true selves, our needs, our dreams, and our pathway to health and happiness.
For myself, the question is not “what makes me happy”, but “when do I feel happy”? Learning new things, meeting new people, being in service to others, having quiet time to myself, spending time with my husband, hiking in the mountains, going to ballet class, listening to my wind chimes, watching my dogs play, and a thousand other things give me an indescribable sense of joy and happiness.
Let me ask you….when do you feel happy? It is an interesting question, and when approached in the spirit of personal introspection and non-judgemental self inquiry, you may be happily surprised what comes up for you.
Be healthy, and happy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP