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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:

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).


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 13th, 2008 01:18 am (UTC)
I LOVE wind on my face, and actually my whole body, my skin. I've stood outside in the dark when it's windy with nothing on just to feel the caress of the wind.

and thanks for the quotes about recognizing little moments of happiness. I once heard someone talk about the brief moments of mindfulness or meditation that we can take, and the example was filling a fountain pen. I use a fountain pen, and it's absolutely true that you can rush through that ritual, so I now think of it as my moment of meditation and it nourishes me.

as for intense feelings, I think I need to hear more from you on that to respond. but I don't think it is a linear measure of how meaningful an experience is - there are way too many other factors.
Dec. 13th, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
What kind of fountain pen do you use? I used to have one that I absolutely loved and carried everywhere, but I lost it, and I haven't been satisfied with any other fountain pen since.

(I may be polyamorous, but I am monographical!)
Dec. 13th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
Waterman Philias (I think that's the name, or it's close).

it has a plastic barrel and cap (thus is not heavy) and is thicker than a regular pen for the arthritic hand. but I got a funny kind that was cheep on ebay - I think it is called a demonstrator model or something. anyway they run about $35 at the store, a bit cheaper on ebay, but the model I got was closer to $15, very dooable. if you're interested, I can get an exact link.

I love the flow of the fountain pen and it's a gift to myself that I get to write with one since I sometimes have to quite a bit of writing.

oh, and I have one pen filled with brown ink, and the other has a bluish green ink. yum!
Dec. 13th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)
I do like the highs, but they're not the norm, nor really are they very frequent, and I like it that way. My life feels like it's mostly about simple joys and small trials, but never very far off from an even keel, and that feels right to me. One of the real joys (not as in bouncy-happy, but as in steadily-gratifying) of my life is that someotherguy has this capacity for appreciating the little joys (a flower we haven't seen before; a silly joke; some new fact about nematodes that I learned today) -- that was absent in cute-poet-chick, to the point where I felt like I was disappointing her by not being either ecstatic or deeply unhappy most of the time.
Dec. 13th, 2008 03:44 am (UTC)
capacity for appreciating the little joys

Yeah, I know what you mean. I like it that there are people in my life who care about that stuff.

I felt like I was disappointing her by not being either ecstatic or deeply unhappy most of the time.

Dec. 13th, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
What a cool post. One of the main ways I have coped with depression and difficult circumstances over the years is by eking out every little bit of joy I can, treasuring every shred of beauty that comes along. Basic mindfulness is the beginning of it, I think. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.
Dec. 13th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)
I love the wind.

As for all the small bits of pleasure or happiness -- that's what's nourishing. Even in the worst times, I can (almost) always appreciate a beautiful view, a song I enjoy, the quiet feeling of accomplishment of cooking something or getting the dishes done. Even when I am so depressed I can scarcely make myself look or cook or wash dishes.

(Yes, there are times I can't make myself engage my life at all. But that's depression, and we're talking about happiness.)
Dec. 13th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
A lot of little things make me happy, mostly things I see -- birds, the sky, how people act, etc. Sometimes I talk about them on my LJ.
Dec. 14th, 2008 04:04 am (UTC)
(I know I hardly ever comment in your journal, but I do read it, and sometimes actually have the time to chat a bit, so....)

I appreciate hearing someone talk about someone talking subtle moments, and okayness....
I used to be suspicious of the highs, and afraid of being 'bored', or 'ordinary'.
At some point in my insanely out of control search for 'my path', I found a place to be me, I mean really be me.
I don't just stop and smell the roses, I touch every petal, and photograph the thorns...(this could easily be seen as a metaphor for many different things, couldn't it?) Every tiny subtle moment became okay to experience, perhaps for the first time in my life. At first I thought I was just hiding behind my camera, but then I realized....that is what makes me happy. That is what makes me feel content!

the simplicity of contentment....and, being bored is, sometimes,actually kind of nice.

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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