~ awake in this moment, at home in the world ~


October 17, 2012
It's a glorious Saturday afternoon, and we've already built a new city in the living room, finished several art projects at the kitchen table and romped through the autumn woods with cousins. On the way home, we've made a spontaneous detour to the neighborhood park.

The sun is shining, our cheeks are pink and we've long ago tossed aside our thick October coats. The boys are squealing their way around the playground. I'm standing beside my younger son on the too-steep-for-a-little-kid slide while my older son climbs the big-kid monkey bars. I can't see my older son, but I can hear him humming in the sun, a sure sign that he's found his bliss.

I take a deep breath of crisp, sunny air. I smile. Life feels so good just now.

"Hey," I shout into the empty space above the jungle gym. "Are you happy?" The big brother peers over the top of the slide.

"Yep, I sure am," he replies. "It's another perfect day." Down he slides, humming again.

"Soak it up," I call, as I reach my hands up to the sky in a gesture of hallelujah. "Let's drink in this moment and know we are happy."

We've been doing this a lot lately. We’ve been keeping an eye out for sunny moments and savoring them when we find them. We've become students of happiness, and we've learned that joy is all around us just waiting to be stumbled upon, if only we remember to look for it. The journey is less about manufacturing happiness, we've learned, and more about opening our eyes to the happiness that already shines in all directions.

As Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck wrote, "You can't avoid paradise, you can only avoid seeing it."

And since we've learned that negative feelings make a deeper imprint on our souls than happy ones - an adaptive trait, the scientists speculate, since fear alerts us to danger - our family has been working hard to squeeze the last drop out of the positive feelings we feel. We've been letting happiness stop us in our tracks. We've been rolling it around in our mouths instead of swallowing it mindlessly. We've been paying attention to it, saying hello to it, milking it for all it's worth.

We've even taken to shouting out, "Happy!" at random moments when the world seems especially sunny and clear. When you're happy and you know it, well, why not share that little glimmering of brightness with the greater world? Maybe someone else is happy right now, too, and just needs a little reminder to pay attention to the goodness that already surrounds them.

Would you care to join us in this exploration of delight? Who knows, perhaps you are happy just now. If so, wake up to it. Make the most of it. Savor it. Don't let happiness pass you by.

Reach your arms up toward the heavens and sing out in perfect joy.