I take care of my happiness. I think I am better at caring for my own happiness than I have ever been for any houseplant or pet. So how does this work?
I laugh. I once read something about the Dalai Lama that described how he gives himself completely to each moment. When something is funny, he laughs completely with his whole being. His Holliness does the same for sad moments, confusing moments, every moment he can. I strive to do the same, especially when I laugh. In our society it might be impolite to laugh loudly. I don't care. I laugh until the the funny comes to a natural end, never rushing or stifling it.
Moving further down this path, I carry funny memories around in my mind. Not just funny memories, but happy memories. Some people hold on to their pains, their troubles and tough moments. I choose to carry around happy moments. I can tell you a handful of moments during which I fell in love. I carry the moment I sat on a mountain in Antarctica and felt my dreams coming true. I carry funny stories and travel adventures, so many happy memories.
Carrying these memories keeps me balanced, keeps me real. When we are hurting, it's difficult not to let the ego in, the one that says, "My life is so hard. This always happens to me. Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?" Hush now little ego. I have happy memories to enjoy. When I fell off the roof in Argentina and began what has turned into years of recovery, I thought to myself over and over, yes, I fell off a roof, but I went to Antarctica. I went to Antarctica.
I don't just live in happy memories of the past and laugh like a clown, I work through meditation and action to make my life what I want it to be, which makes me very happy. One trick to kick this process into gear is to sit dow and close your eyes. Then imagine that this breath is your last breath. You will never open your eyes again, inhale again, return that message, forgive that friend, volunteer in Kenya. This is it. What comes to mind? What was left undone? Now open your eyes and relish the moment, relish the awareness and second chance you'd have realized for yourself!
I did this with the help of Harshada Wagner in 2011. I was two years into my recovery and honestly miserable. I had physical therapy 3x/week, vestibular therapy 2x/week, cognitive rehab 3x/week plus numerous doctors appointments. I was living in NYC in a tough situation and really missing graduate school. When I sat down, closed my eyes and gave myself over to this meditation, I realized I hated my life.
I got up from that meditation mat determined to make some major changes. Not external ones (I couldn't simply skip out of recovery stuff), internal ones. I challenged myself to be the person I wanted to be, regardless of my circumstances. It was tough, but awesome. Once I released myself from my circumstances, I began living in the moment more. I let go of painful physical therapy sessions and laughed wholeheartedly with friends. I allowed myself to enjoy every little moment that could be enjoyed, instead of carrying trauma into everything.
Every year I make a list of 50 things I am proud I did. I take baths with candles. I run. I have sex. I wear sundresses. Sometimes I stay up all night watching TV. These are a few of my favorite things.
Happiness is laughing.
Happiness is creating warm memories.
Happiness is realizing I am not my circumstances.
I am me.
You are you.