Noticing Happiness I The Simplicity of Attention

I sit down to write these words at the start of yet another gray, damp and gloomy day, the fourth or fifth in a row. It’s beginning to feel endless in that way that makes a person wonder if we’ll ever see the sun again. You know what I mean? To cheer myself up, I remind myself that somewhere out beyond the clouds, the sun has been there all along—bright, radiant, and full of warmth. Happiness

What if it’s the same way for us human beings? What if there is a radiance within each of us—a fundamental happiness—that is always there whether we know it or not, an essence that is untouched by passing clouds, no matter how dark or stormy they may be? I think there is, and I think it’s more accessible than we realize.

Like many people I know, I’ve been feeling particularly weighed down these days with serious concerns about the state of our nation, the rest of the world, and our very planet. Feeling a rather desperate need for balance, I recently set an intention for myself to actively look for, notice and pay attention to feelings of happiness whenever they arise. I decided to incline my mind toward joy and have been surprised by a growing conviction that joy is right here, so close that you can touch it, so constant that it’s easy to overlook. Ridiculously simple things seem to help the most: Noticing a stranger’s smile, appreciating bright colors in a shop window, hearing the laughter of a loved one. I was pouring a glass of milk the other morning, and just sensing the weight and coolness of the glass in my hand made me realize I was happy. Could it be that happiness flows in an inverse proportion to the simplicity of the moment?

I’m not walking around in a perpetual state of bliss. Sometimes when I remember my intention to connect with happiness, what arises instead is resistance, frustration or…nothing. Nevertheless, I’m planning to continue because the overall benefit has been palpable. Would you care to join me?


Written by Elena Walker, MA, LPCC

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