Monday, August 31, 2015

Surprise Gardens

Have you ever experienced a situation where the plans you carefully laid out just didn’t go as planned and the times when you just decided to wing it went far better than you imagined?  I call that the difference between being in the mental body and being in Divine Flow and Joy.

Back in early Spring, I planted some sunflower seeds outside my south facing window.  I thought they would be a nice sunbreak as well as a bright spot of color.  I waited and waited, but nothing came up.  After a while, I assumed the squirrels who reside in the nearby trees probably had a little feast and that was the end of it.  A few weeks ago, I noticed some green stalks triumphantly pushing their way up right in the location where I had planted the sunflowers.  “Eureka!” I thought.  Maybe they were just slow starters.

However, as I watched them grow and mature, I realized that these were the funniest looking sunflowers I had ever seen.  Instead of being wide, flat and round at the top, they were oblong.  Hhhmmmm.  I kept watering and they kept growing until I finally recognized their shape. I have corn stalks!  I looked up and realized what had happened. Above that same window, I also keep a bird feeder hanging and some of the corn seeds in the bird mix had managed to land on the ground and take root.  Just by following the joy of watching the birds outside my window, I had unwittingly created a whole new garden!

I started thinking about my other gardening adventures and I realized that some of my healthiest, most productive plants are ones that I took home spur-of-the-moment “just to see how they would do.”  Meanwhile, some of the areas that were more carefully plotted out according to which plants should do better in what amount of sun, haven’t done nearly as well.   Hhhmmmm.  Could it be that the line about following your joy in the moment actually has some truth to it?  When the heart is truly open, the Divine speaks to us most clearly and those seemingly inconsequential inspirations are often the Soul leading us to some new creation we never imagined.

As I expand the metaphor to my other “gardens”, other creations in my life, I see the lesson for me in truly trusting those thoughtless little moments of joy.  With less thought and more heart, I look forward to many more surprise gardens in my life.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Happiness Just Is

When I was young, one of my favorite books was Happiness Is A Warm Puppy, which featured all of the Charlie Brown characters sharing their simple pleasures in life.  Whenever I think of that book, it takes me back to a time when happiness just was.  There was no searching for it or trying to figure out all of its components; it was just there.  So, how did we lose that as we got older?

I recently saw two films which, though very different, had a similar key theme.  The first was a wonderful movie by Pixar called “Inside Out,” which featured the inner thoughts and emotions of a young girl.  The Joy character was always trying to make things better and happier by pushing away the experience of other emotions like sadness.  She eventually came to realize the value that comes from not pushing away other emotions like sadness, but honoring them.  Acknowledging sadness allowed for a rich opportunity of compassionate connection with others which ultimately brought about…. Happiness.

In “Hector and the Search for Happiness,” a stuck-in-his-ways psychiatrist goes on a global adventure to search for the keys to happiness to help his patients.  He keeps a notebook of all the things that might bring people happiness.  In his final revelation, he understands that true happiness is a combination of all his emotions and experiences, not just one.  In other words, once he accepts the whole of his being unconditionally, without trying to engineer a specific situation or experience that he deems to be his source of happiness, he actually feels happy.  As one of the psychiatrists in the movie puts it, we don’t find happiness when we’re actively searching for it but when we go about our lives in a way that’s connected, present and engaged.  In that state, we realize our happiness.

So, maybe one of the keys to “finding” happiness is to understand that we never lost it.  We may have gotten distracted, sidetracked, or maybe thrown a little off-course, but it was always there.  We began to believe that we had to “do” something to get what once came completely naturally to us.  In those moments of childhood wonder, there was no laundry list of things to do and no worrying about finding the meaning of life.  If you felt sad, you cried and then were done and went back outside to play.  Kids can get really enthusiastic about their tears and then get really enthusiastic about something else just as quickly.  There is no judgment, just allowing the feeling to flow through.  And that state of total acceptance of what is in the moment, is happiness.  So, there really is no magic bullet or trick to any of it.  There is no “one thing” that will bring us happiness.  If we relax and accept all of it, we find that happiness just is.