How to get to happy: think fast!

happiness I have learned, through trial and error (mostly error), through reading and shrinkage (mostly shrinkage), to pay attention to what is happening when something notable is happening. "Notable" means notable to you, of course: for me, right now, I'm concerned with getting a handle on my triggers and stopping myself, if only a moment, before I pull them, to suss out what's going down. Said triggers include, but are not limited to:

  • wanting an alcoholic beverage
  • wanting an Americano
  • wanting an SCD off-limits item (chiefly bread and Rolos, lately)
  • blowing up over discourteous driving
  • going to The Dark Place

I'm making some headway with all of them, to varying degrees, in terms of understanding. Note that I did not say I am necessarily making headway with the habit itself; in the eyes of the world, I'm just one more bourbon-swilling, espresso-huffing, carbo-scarfing loudmouth with a sad-ass predilection for moodiness and misanthropy.

Today, I changed it up a bit. Driving from The BF's to my K-town pad this morning, I felt exceptionally happy. Happy as in I feel content where I am, with where I've been, and with where I'm headed. So I asked myself why. What's going on now that makes me feel good-good as opposed to the booze-numbed, chocolate-caramel-endorphined, caffeine-rush, ersatz feeling of good? And I did it fast, like they make you respond to those which pair of lines match up, male-female brain tests do.

And the answers?

  1. I felt well-rested
  2. I had several hours to myself today to catch up on things
  3. I'd worked hard this week
  4. I'd helped people this week
  5. I had the chance to do items 4 & 5 again next week

That's it.

I'm no richer, thinner, more attractive or better loved than I was yesterday (that I know of, anyway). My to-do list is no shorter and my patience no longer than it was 24 hours ago.

But I'm better rested, I have some breathing room, and I've applied myself (successfully or not). I've found work I love and that enables me to be useful to other people. And, because of a combination of luck and hard work, I'm still here drawing breath, able to lather, rinse and repeat.

Yes, you could say I'm also grateful for all of this stuff and that gratitude is the key to feeling good. I won't lie, it's a big component. And I'm also beginning to be aware, o ye who are well and further down the road, that happiness isn't even the ultimate goal, the letting go of it is.

But before letting go comes happiness, before happiness comes gratitude, and before gratitude comes awareness. It's the first thing, and god bless it, you can do it anytime, anywhere, no matter what part of the path you're on or what the terrain is like under your feet...

xxx c

Photo by carlosluis via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license