I live at a spiritual retreat, and many of the guests who come to use the centre are looking for either happiness or the means to get a place where perhaps to be happy is more achievable/realistic. My journey started about 10 years ago - it will never end but my goal - to be, and to remain happy - is significantly closer to me than it ever was. How? The question I am asked first by most of the people who speak to me on the subject.
This recipe is a personal one - you can't buy the product off the shelf [I only wish you could]. All I urge you to do is to experiment with the ingredients and see for yourself what works. I am not telling you what to do - I honestly don't care enough about you to accept the responsibility for your choices/outcomes - that does not mean I am not compassionate - I will literally do anything for anybody because to do so makes me happy - but I am not interested in control.
My goal is - to be, and to remain happy. Everything I do is designed or chosen with that goal in mind. Could I be happier? Yes. What am I doing to be and remain, and even further, my happiness?
I'm in the fortunate position to be able to write and share my stories - as my principal occupation [I won't say job], I'm incredibly lucky that I have found what I love to do the most - I can't imagine doing anything else. That was a relatively long journey in itself - I didn't begin writing until 2009, at the tender age of 44, and I didn't start publishing until the end of 2012.
The triumvirate of a healthy diet, regular exercise and a decent amount of sleep. I'm largely vegan - that doesn't in itself make my diet healthy but being a vegan has caused me to be more mindful of what I eat - and I cook a lot more these days. I walk whenever I can - it helps to have a dog that need a lot of exercise. I sleep for on average 8 hours per night. These aspects of my daily routine are a great barometer of my general state of mind - when I detect that something is wavering/going off track, for example, when my appetite is poor, my sleep is broken or I feel lethargic, I know to look for something else to account for the change.
I make time daily for meditation.
Writing is a creative process but I also need other creative processes - I really enjoy multi-media art work.
When I can, I get in the garden and plant things. I need the sun and the wind and the rain [not snow] - we are elemental.
I have to have projects that need collaboration - hence The Carter Seagrove Project. Working with other artists is fundamental to my creative process; be it, working on text, cover designs, video or any other kind of medium. Why is collaboration so important? I think it has to do with sharing ideas, energy and learning through doing - plus, collaboration inevitably means compromise, sometimes tolerance and patience [my worst failing is being impatient], and most importantly, achieving a shared vision of an outcome - which requires a lot of communication and understanding, especially when neither of the parties is necessarily working in their preferred medium, or speaking in their native language. Collaboration is, by default, challenging - challenge creates energy.
I think a lot about energy - all is energy - what does it really mean?
When I am working towards my goal, having expressed my intent as honestly as I know how, and I have accepted the price I am paying for my choice, and I am clear about the rewards that I will gain, the energy to achieve things just flows - energy follows intention. I give of my resources and I receive energy back. I work in the spiritual retreat when there are groups in the house - often I am helping a participant with something - usually a housekeeping issue. The more I help people, the more I receive back in energy, which could come in the form of help during the clear up after dinner, conversation/ the sharing of ideas, stories, music - most often, helping the guests is rewarded through the knowledge that their visit to the house was special to them, they achieved their goal.
Rarely does money come into the equation - I work in exchange for the things I need - that is the best manifestation I can think of that describes the energy cycle.
Happiness is a function of honesty. Am I truly happy or am I deluding myself? If I am deluding myself ... why?
This is a daily self-challenge. Am I staying where I am/doing the things I am doing not because I am happy but because I am afraid to move/change? I regularly audit what is going in my life and whether it is truly making me happy, and whether I need to change something to keep on track. A change in my core indicators of appetite/exercise/sleep usually indicates that I am not being honest with myself about something - though I may be in the middle of processing it and just not finished yet. What is likely to be the cause?
- Not saying something when something needs to be said - I am blunt and to the point but there will always be times when I keep my mouth shut when I should have addressed the issue immediately
- I choose an easy option in an attempt to avoid paying the [full] price for my choice - murder will out, as they say
- I lapse in my daily routine - I can afford to do that occasionally but not regularly [why do I lapse? I think the underlying depression simply erodes my resolve slowly but surely until it becomes manifest again].
Fear stopped me from achieving my goal - that was much truer in the past, not so true now. What was I afraid of?
- What people thought of me and what I was doing [the biggest fear and inhibitor to my happiness]
- Being different/drawing attention to myself
- Failing/making a mistake
A recipe for happiness?
What's my goal - be specific - a simple goal, well said
Everything I do is for/towards my goal
What makes me happy? Sharing, conversation, writing, reading, movies, gardening ... so do those things!
Plenty of sleep and rest
Regular study - it doesn't matter what - last course I did was on screen-writing, the next could be on macramé
Collaboration on a project
A daily audit - am I happy, truly happy? How are my dials? Is something wavering?
Daily - Do the most important thing that needs to be done - hang the rest, don't stress it
Deal with things when they need to be dealt with/be blunt [and as polite as needed]
Recognise when you don't have all the data ... and go and get it
Remove negative influences - that includes people [it mostly includes people]
Forget calendars, schedules, plans - be in today [why worry about what could happen tomorrow when you have today to enjoy first?]
Challenge fear - break it down and understand it, take a deep breath and scream out loud - FUCK OFF FEAR!
Change your playlist
Clean all your windows
Get rid of everything that you don't need; preferably by giving it to someone who needs it
Write your thoughts down
Volunteer at your local animal rescue shelter
Plant herbs in your garden [and use them!]
I am not expert, except when it comes to my own happiness. I am no therapist or doctor - sometimes you need advice - get it but do not become dependent on it, and avoid always looking for others to validate your choices/actions - because no one really cares, and often they are validating you, to validate themselves.
I'm happy - and I hope you are too - or you're getting there - can I help?