The Happiness Project didn’t work for me.
The very wise Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn once said, “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
Happiness surrounds us. I believe the real project is learning to notice it.
I’ve spent the last few years overwhelmed with information, desiring to be anywhere than where I am in this moment, walking around in a daze, mindless, unable to focus, and constantly losing my keys, my wallet, my pen, in essence my life. I barely notice anything and spend my time hoping that someday soon I will magically arrive somewhere better.
Ellen Langer defines mindfulness as the “simple act of actively noticing things.” She says that most people live mindlessly all of the time, “Most people are just not there, and they’re not there to know that they’re not there.”
I want to be there.
When I look back at the years to the times I was truly present, the only time during the day when I seem to really notice things is when I’m out running with my dog in the mountains near my home. I seem to notice every little wildflower, the ever changing dawn light on neighboring peaks and the city below, and the way my dog sniffs and inspects every little thing. During these early morning trail runs is when I feel most alive, and well… happy. I cherish these runs and I often lose track of time wandering aimlessly through the hills only experiencing what is in front of me at that moment.
How does one bring this act of noticing into daily life?
How do I bring the joy I feel in the mountains onto my daily bus ride to work, while sitting at my desk at work, while interacting with patients, when spending times with loved ones, while standing in line at the grocery store, or when doing household chores?
This is the real challenge and the beginning of my mindfulness project. This is how I hope to begin to notice new things and live a little more mindfully.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.” ~Sharon Salsburg