Brave Humility: A Happiness Tale

Although he wore gold epaulets and amethyst garb, he gave no thought to his position.  His eye was fastened on his purpose, on following its light.

He was the first in his rank to rise, and he did so bravely.  Without regard to the drought or overpowering heat, he unfurled his thick cape and gazed steadily into the day.

His task was to rise, to stand, and nothing more.  He was of the front guard, a wayshower, and he was determined to perform his mission with all the might he could muster.

The meager supply of morning dew evaporated quickly beneath the blazing sun’s gaze, but it was enough to encourage him.  He assayed his resources.  He had strong roots and faith in the soil that gave him birth.  And although there was no breeze to bring him comfort, he saw the stand of woods to the south and judged he could endure the sun until its leafy boughs would shield him.

As the day wore on, he looked about him.  It was really quite beautiful here in the field.  Goldenrod blossomed at its edge and the air was thick with bees.  Once he accustomed himself to it, he discovered the sun’s hot rays were actually pleasing.  He flung his cape open further to let more of its stimulating light play against him.  And he encouraged the troops around him to stand with him and witness the day.

Late in the afternoon, he saw an old man walking up the far end of his row, studying the troops closely.  A distance behind him a woman walked and two small dogs.  He heard the soft crunch of the man’s heavy boots as they edged nearer and nearer.  The old man stopped directly before him and bent over staring.

“Martha!  Look!”  the old man shouted to the woman behind him.  “Look, Martha!  A blossom!”  The man laughed, his wrinkled face breaking into a grin so bright it rivaled the sun.  “We’re going to have potatoes after all!  Hallelujah!”

And the blossom straightened more and was humbled and glad to have triggered such joy.

Everywhere and Always, Joy: A Happiness Tale

A Scatter of Dazzling Colored Leaves.

Joy rides photons as if they were bobsleds, careening through space, zipping past stars, sliding through the curves of space-time into matter just for the sheer dazzle of it.

And once it gets there, it blazes into invisible color and erupts into soaring silent song.  It sparkles its bliss like confetti, flinging it with abandon into the waters and winds.

And you drink it and breathe it without even knowing and it tastes like harmony and when you’re filled with it all you can see is beauty and the dancing spectrum of light.

You think this is a fairy tale or some fantastic story.  But it’s the nearest that truth can squeeze into words to tell you that you’re made of joy, that it’s in you, forever and always.  Drink the water.  Breathe the air.

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Easy Miracles

So effortlessly the seasons change, moving in increments so small they hardly seem perceptible.  A leaf here, a branch there dons its crimson color.  And then we wake one morning, and there’s autumn outside our windows, totally ablaze with color.

All organic change happens that way, as if nature herself wrote the book on kaizen.  Tiny cells divide and divide and before you know it, there’s a baby.  Feed it and blink and it’s off to school.

No muss, no fuss.  No stuck states.  No resistance to be unlearned or overcome; no dragging its heels.   Just one little move after another, a little less this, a little more that and its morning or springtime or you have the Grand Canyon carved from hard rock.

Set your course and go with the flow, one smooth move after another.  It’s a piece of cake.  Easy as pie.  Then you wake up one morning, and you’ve made miracles.  Sounds like a plan to me.

Beauty’s Message

Crysanthemum in Dusty Rose

It’s no accident, you know, that the world is filled with beauty, that we perceive it not only with our senses, but with our hearts and with our souls.  No randomness gives it birth; it’s the child of design, sent to reflect Perfection in time and space.

Beauty is the cosmic harmony of creation made comprehensible to human mind.  It’s the divine dance played in rhythms of color and sound to show us the pathway to joy.  It carries the sweetness of truth, the fragrance of goodness.  Beauty delights and inspires us and awakens in us the quest to know more completely the nature of its source, and its place within us.

With utmost grace, beauty weaves a wholeness of matter, spirit and mind, signaling to us the ultimate art, beckoning us to create it in our lives.  It’s a divine hint, a whisper, of how tenderly we’re loved, and an illumination of the way home.

The Sound of Peace, Singing

Woodland StreamDeep, deep, deep within us, beneath the rush, beneath the doubt and uncertainty, under all the questions, happiness flows.  It’s not a thing unto itself; you can’t hold it in your hand.  It’s a quality of being.  In fact, its being’s essence.

Happiness is the fragrance given off by the love at the center of the great Yes.  It’s the music of the eternal dance, the starlight of the infinite sky.  It rides on contentment’s sighs, and on the petals of flowers.  It cavorts in laughter and in great heaps of clouds.  It paints the breath of babies and the wings of birds.  It flows in sunlight and shadows, and glides across the faces of mountains and the surfaces of streams.

Within the human heart, it’s the gloriousness of gratitude, the tenderness of kindnesses given and received.  It’s confidence and pride in achievement.  It’s hope in the darkness and joy in the dawn.

Happiness comforts and lifts, delights and inspires.  It erupts in mirth and frolics in fun.  It creeps into our minds as curiosity and interest and sends us probing into mysteries and miracles galore.  It bubbles up as pleasure and towers up as awe.  And when you dive into its depths it enfolds you in its rapture and fills you with the sound of peace, singing.

The High on Happiness “Best of Class” Awards

Tallest Weed
Tallest Weed

The country fairs are in full swing around here and their buildings bulge with blue ribbons:  Best Apple Pie, Biggest Pumpkin, Best Quilt, Strongest Mule.  They remind me of a happiness game I love to play, the “Best of Class” awards.

Here’s how it works:  In the morning, you pick out a category – Best Cloud, Most Beautiful Scene, Best Smile, Funniest Moment, Most Interesting Fact, Best Music – and on your way home from work, or over dinner, or before bed, you choose the winner of the day.

Once I spent an hour writing categories on little slips of paper that I folded up and put in a big bowl, and every morning I’d pick one and that would be my focus of the day.

I kept a running list in my journal for awhile.  What a hoot when I stumbled across it years later!  I had written detailed enough descriptions of some of the winners to bring back the memory as vividly as if I’d just picked it yesterday.

The game can take on all kinds of variations.  You can look for the same “best of” for a week, for example.  I choose “best nature scenes” and shot pictures of them every day for a year last year.  You can focus on a different sense every day – Most interesting texture, coolest song, finest fragrance, most delicious food, best shade of blue.  If you’re studying to master a subject, you can keep a log of the best fact you learned about it every day.  It’s makes for great dinner conversation when you play it with your partner or kids.

All in all, it’s a fabulous little game.  It exercises your attention and focus, hones your awareness and keeps you in the present.  And besides all that, it’s a whole lot of fun.  It’s a top contender on my list of happiness practices.

Give it a whirl.  Let me know how it turns out for you.  I’d love to hear.

Dream a Little Dream

White butterfly on purple flowersImagine you lived in a magical world where winged princesses feasted on flowers and crystalline globes rode emerald grass to catch the hues of the sunrise.

Imagine that you woke each day to the trill of silvery notes and glad pipings, and when you opened your eyes, gossamer banners floated above you in translucent shades of saffron and rose, lavender and turquoise blue.

Imagine that after you breakfasted on the eggs of birds or the pressed grains of the fields, you would don your robes and step boldly into the day’s adventures, never knowing what awaits.  Grand challenges would greet you, testing your strength and will.  With valor and humor you would wield your decisions, doing and undoing, creating, solving, serving, trading goods and time as if you possessed an unending store.

Imagine that everywhere you went music wrapped around you and colors danced into your eyes.  And behind each door was an opportunity with your name on it.  And people came, and children, and animals of every description, each one with a lesson to give and to take, and emotions tagged every encounter to show you the way.

Imagine the evenings came gently, and the day foam of your energy melted away into clear and flowing peace.  And the night sounds were a symphony honoring a star-glittered sky and everything whispered yes to you and love.

Imagine you could live in such a world for the choosing of it.  Would you?  Will you?  Do you?

The Cure for Boredom

Vine Poking Through a Fence“The cure for boredom is curiosity.  There is no cure for curiosity.” ~Dorothy Parker

Here comes Curiosity again, her knapsack of What-Ifs slung over her shoulder.  She’s an insatiable one, I tell you, poking her fingers in every crack, her head through every door.

“How does it work? Why does it do that?  What would happen if?”  There’s just no stopping her, believe me.  Toss her an answer and it only makes her hungry for more.

She pounces like a cat on every scrap that catches her interest.  She has no fear and cares nothing for boundaries or mundane opinions.

She takes things to their limits and then pushes them over the edge just to see what will happen.  She experiments with everything, dares the impossible, and can drag opportunity from places that others never see.

“How will you know if you don’t try?” she asks, laughing.

I love it when she comes by.  If you’re ever bored, have her over for dinner.

God Said “Wiggle!”

Wildflowers Laughing on a Hill“Peace has to dance and silence has to sing. And unless your innermost realization becomes a laughter, something is still lacking.” ~Osho

“I was always in trouble at school,” Ruth said.  “The teachers said, ‘Sit still!’  But God said, “Wiggle!”

That’s the secret that children know, before the stiff conformity of adulthood weighs them down.  They hear the animating music of their souls; they know that life is motion and meant to be lived with zest and joy.

They understand fiddles and banjos and tubas.  They know how skipping frees you and how beautiful it is to twirl like a flower in the breeze.  Children strut and slide and march and glide everywhere they go, just for the joy of it.  Even their fingers know how to tap dance.

We should pay attention.  Our gravity is a trap and a lie, miring us in lethargy and inertia.  It deafens us to the melodies of our own hearts and puts blinders on our vision.  To be hale and hearty and free, we need to relax into a spirit of divine nonchalance and listen again for life’s music.  And if it moves us to whistle as we walk down the halls, let us whistle.  If we want to dance at the bus stops, let us dance.

The Gift of a Grateful Heart

Golden Chyrsanthemums
Gratitude opens as golden as dawn, unfolding the petals of the heart.  In its light, joy sings, peace reigns, hope bursts forth.

Its warmth dissolves fear.  Its power blots out lack.  It comforts and satisfies and fills.

To taste gratitude is to taste the nectar of life.  Its richness revives us and reveals life’s worth.  It drenches us in complete acceptance.

It comes as a gift, humbling us and making us whole.  Its gentle flame kindles our desire to extend ourselves to one another, to give of our talents, to participate in life with gladness and joy.

In the beauty of its light, we sense our connection to all that is, and to the undying Yes that dissolves all the mysteries.  “Be at peace,” it whispers to our hearts and through them.  “All is well, and you are loved.”