December 12th, 2008

red panda eating bamboo

eight days of happiness: three

My sweetie kyubi and I took a class in working with resin at the Bay Area Bead Extravaganza in November. Last night we worked on making little resin lozenges with pictures in them. I just poured the resin into the molds and opened the window to get some ventilation. There's a pleasant cool (ok, cold...at least what passes for cold in the SF Bay Area) breeze that smells like impending rain, and that makes me happy, even though I am a bit worried about the resin because it's not supposed to like cold temperatures.

I'm not sure why this is, but feeling a cool breeze on my face is one of the most reliable ways I have of accessing a feeling of happiness.

Last night while driving to kyubi's house I was listening to a dharma talk by Andrea Fella called "Practicing Happiness." You can download it here:
http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/AndreaFella.html

I found several things she said useful:
"We can easily miss states of happiness," or dismiss them because they don't fit our self-identity.

"One time I was driving down a road and I noticed that my mind was spinning into the future and planning....I was curious...what is really going on here?...And what I discovered was that I was happy. I was really happy, and what the mind was engaged in was trying to figure out how to keep myself happy in the future. And I had completely missed the fact that I was happy."

"See if you can recognize and appreciate these positive wholesome feelings....gratitude, joy, generosity, kindness. You might consider these all to be flavors of happiness....see if you can notice and pay attention to what they feel like in the body and in the mind."

"Check throughout your day even for tiny little moments of happiness. It doesn't have to be some major kind of happiness....recognizing small moments that happen throughout the day helps us to...feel them and to appreciate them, and that will cultivate the recognition of more of those states. It has this kind of positive feedback loop."

"We tend to notice in our experience...the momentum of anxiety or worry....or we notice moments when we are exuberant or excited and feel like 'That's the way things are supposed to be, that's right, that's what we're supposed to be experiencing...this is the way life is supposed to be." We have a habit of believing that we are supposed to look for these highs and fix the lows. And we dont often rest in the space of 'no problem.'"
I really appreciate hearing someone talk about how little, subtle moments of happiness or okayness are valuable. Throughout my life I've heard a lot of people talk about how strong feelings are really important to their sense of identity and how they feel dead when they aren't experiencing such feelings. Sometimes I end up half-believing that there's something wrong with me because I don't try harder to achieve intense feelings and in fact I am somewhat suspicious of them (the highs are nice but they also feel out of control and they include anxiety because often for me falling out of a state of intense happiness feels painful).