As a Coach I’ve often been asked about happiness. Happiness as a concept is both easy to understand and elusive to hold on to. We know when we feel happy and when we don’t, but not always what contributes to either state. When you look at in the context of emotional intelligence it is comprised of how we feel about ourselves (self-regard), how we feel and connect with others (interpersonal relationships), our feelings of positivity (optimism) and our feelings of achievement (self-actualization). How we feel about these things informs our level of happiness, and how consistently we experience being happy. If any of those areas is being impacted (loss of a loved one, loss of a job, making an embarrassing mistake, feeling overwhelmed by demands at work/home) it can affect our happiness (short and long term).
It’s during these circumstances that solace can be found in the constant things in life. Like the smile on a child’s face, a memory from a vacation with friends, knowing your automatic coffee maker always has coffee ready for you in the mornings. There are things around us that continue no matter what is happening in our lives. Each of my mornings begin with a warm cup of coffee, sipped in the tranquility of my kitchen as the rest of my household sleeps. I do this each morning (week-day and week-end), which is how I know it gives me something I need, however intangible it is for me to say exactly what that need is – we only choose to do things that are just for us repeatedly when it gives us something in return. Gretchen Schmelzer, author of the website Emotional Geographic states that it is in the transition periods in our lives, like moving from awakening to preparing for the day, where we may find unseen stores of well being. Waking up to the smell of rich coffee, looking at the photos in our home and recalling fond memories as we wait for our coffee to cool. Schmelzer calls these transition periods “…the bricks of healthy capacity—put thousands of them together and you have a foundation that can hold anything.” (http://www.emotionalgeographic.com/).
It is the constancy of things in our lives that hold us, the “ups and downs” that shape us. We can always find comfort in watching a sunrise, smelling freshly mowed grass or following the path of a raindrop down a windowpane. Well-being escapes us when we no longer have access to this constancy, when we do not allow the daily ebb and flow of life to hold us. But even so, it its still there, caring for us though we may not have the time or inclination to dip into it’s stores to help us re-balance. Schmelzer likens these ordinary and everyday times as the constants in our lives – like the tides and sunsets we find in nature. They are the stuff of happiness, a core part of our well being; something that is always there no matter what else life is throwing at you. The sun will always rise, the tide will always flow in and out, these are constant and unchanging.
What are the constants in your life? Spending a few moments identifying what is always present (maybe even taken for granted), but that you would miss if it wasn’t there is a worthwhile investment. What is your foundation made up of? What do you seek when you need to re-charge, lick your wounds or contemplate a deeper change in life (one you initiate or one that was thrust upon you)? Can you identify the “bricks” that hold the foundation of your own healthy capacity? They are there, see what they hold for you.
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I believe in giving back to others in many tangible ways. When I learn something new, or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website. You can always find my latest blog entries here, on Face Book or Linked In.