Alex Shalman has created the Happiness Group Writing Project and this is my contribution. He asks that we answer five questions so let’s get started!
How do you define happiness?
Happiness is when I am in rhythm with life and flowing with the events in my life. For me happiness is a deep sense of well being that could best be described as the feeling of glowing like the dawn light falling across the flowers I paint.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your happiness now, versus when you were a child?
With 10 being high I would say 8 now and 4 or 5 as a child. The time I spent reading or in the outdoors brought me the most happiness as a child. The reading took me away from my unpleasant family circumstances and the outdoors allowed me to find a rhythm with nature that was sustaining in itself.
As an adult I gradually learned to create different patterns in my life than the ones of my family. I actually was quite suicidal as a young adult but I did not want to raise my daughter with that same level of dysfunction. I started trying different things, new ways of being. Some worked, some did not, but gradually I created a life that allows happiness.
What do you do on a daily basis that brings you happiness? And how consistent is the feeling of happiness throughout your day?
I smile at my husband, most days anyway! I interact with our dogs and cats. I always look at the mountains and watch the changing light on them. And I look at flowers in the garden, paint flowers, or look at some of my 50,000 flower photos on the computer. It is important to me to do something creative every day. I remember to appreciate what is good in my life.
Usually I maintain a decent level of happiness during the day unless I am trying to meet too many deadlines at once or am unwell.
What things take away from your happiness? What can be done to lessen their impact or remove them from your life?
In all honesty I think I am my own biggest obstacle to my happiness. In this chaotic and demanding world it can be easy to point at outer circumstances or people and blame them for my unhappiness, but the fact is my own reactions to those circumstances and people are the most important determining factors.
I don’t believe the goal is 100% happiness every minute of my life. It is perfectly ok to feel sadness or grief when the occasion arises. Resisting being unhappy actually creates a lot more unhappiness in the long run. It is best to feel the emotion for what it is and then move along.
Resistance to what is happening throws one out of the rhythm of life, and there is no happiness when out of rhythm. Most of my inner work at this time deals with releasing resistance and reactivity, both on the individual and group levels.
What do you plan on doing in the future that will bring you even more happiness?
As I become more easily responsive to my own inner rhythms and gifts without resistance, I will be creating more effective expressions of joy and spirit in all facets of my life.
And one of these days I will create a flower painting that is too large to transport in my van, just for the fun of it all!
Radiant Heart, the painting shown above, is 60″ wide by 48″ high and has been sold. Prints are available at RiverStone Gallery.
Copyright © Lexi Sundell 2008. All Rights Reserved.