Thinking about various kinds of happiness for tonight’s event with Theresa Wong at Montalvo  in celebration of International Happiness Day.  I’ve enjoyed how this event has shaped my attention over these last few months.

We often think of happiness as a conditional state: When X happens I will be happy, or As long as X is happening, I cannot be happy.  But what if happiness can co-exist with otherwise unsatisfactory conditions?  That actually feels like a new thought (for me), or at least to think of it clearly feels new. It actually seems like this is a primary key to happiness, to inhabit the feeling in a way that is not contingent.

A therapist once asked me to write these words on a piece of paper:

i can be happy001_2

Clearly she thought I needed such a remedial measure.  And she was right. It felt like saying, I can be a giraffe. I was very much in the sway of some idea that I could not be happy if other people were not happy.  In order to help me write this sentence, she had me draw a pie chart to show where my attention was going. Most of it was going toward worrying about people in my family; some had bigger slices than others. Then she had me lift each slice out and entertain the possibility of not carrying that worry for them. And in its place, I could just say this sentence. It felt a little silly of course, but mainly it felt entirely new.  But my family is from another world, where we don’t say sentences like this!  Happiness is for other people!

Just to say that simple sentence felt like it took some degree of suspension of disbelief, just to try to say it.  It felt like claiming some lost luggage or finding an extra room in a dream. There’s an idea that there’s only so much happiness that complicates things too. But what if it’s not so exceptional, that it’s not something that even needs pursuit, but it’s always there and it’s a function of how available we are to it? This happens on a gross and subtle level.

It seems like a useful diagnostic: to say this sentence and notice where it snags. And that wherever that snag is, maybe that’s where the most necessary work is, as it is in some way impeding an availability to experience.

I’ve been thinking of some inflections of happiness, so I thought I’d name some here.

The happiness:

of a kindred curiosity:

i can be happy001

of hearing your name
name is ricky001_2of ornament morphic resonance001_2_2

of your sister giving you the exact book you wanted

peanuts

of being able to describe something and then see it come into beingchurlish001_2

of the problem becoming the solution

commonplace book003_2_3
of being able to offer help that is actually helpfulCPRdance thank you

of clear communication
does not work

of being awake early in the cityearly morning NYCof this horsehorse2

of a french fold

1074175217blue_feet
of 3D rhymezebraof coloreggs.of a cohortcourtyard three

of whispering & being whispered towhisper of full-body listeningtrieste listeners of working through the listtodo of pattern

Snail 41

of being alongsideslowblog grandpa

of placesheets.place of seeing what no one else sees sebastiangoggles of arriving at a formal solutionfourstrawsof being received 2 llamas