My husband makes me happy. This afternoon I was sinking into that so-much-work, so-little-ganas* funk when he suggested we go for a walk. After an hour in the gorgeous early fall sunlight, I feel like a new person.
So Mel is starting part II of the Happiness Challenge. I skipped the first part, mainly because instituting a new ritual in my life at the start of a school year felt like too much work. But with the second part being a challenge to meditate for 10 minutes a day, I jumped on the bandwagon. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while anyway.
Meanwhile, I did think I’d at least list a few rituals I already do that make me happy.
1) walking to campus. This is the time when I look at trees and clouds and let my mind wander. Even though I do it out of necessity (although I could, perhaps, take the bus, it’s actually simpler to walk 15 minutes than try to figure out a schedule), I still think of it as mental health time and usually I’m not in such a rush that I don’t enjoy it.
2) cuddle time with T. This is a joint ritual we established when we got married; cuddling at bedtime. If we don’t go to bed at the same time, the one who stays up comes in and cuddles the other one for a few minutes. This is often a quiet time when non-urgent things that have been on my mind get talked about. There have been nights when the looming ritual demanded that we spend several hours arguing through something until we could get to the point where we were reconciled enough to be able to cuddle, but not too often. Now that we’re doing this commuting thing, on nights when we’re apart we do a virtual phone-cuddle (although it’s not the same!!!). I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done for our marriage.
3) sun salutations. I don’t do them every day, but with the meditation challenge I will try to.
4) knitting. Ok, it’s not so much a ritual as a hobby, but it’s definitely a mental health thing. When I’m trying to plough through a pile of reading I’ll take knitting breaks, and I often pull out a sock to work on during meetings etc. (And yes, I did knit the ones I’m wearing in my new picture – the reason I changed it was because the other one was too smiley).
I’m not going to try to define happiness, though. To me, it’s an inadequate word to describe a range of emotional states that become subsumed under the same label. Within that broad range, I think what I want to aim for is better described as tranquility, serenity, or contentment. So here goes.
*This hard-to-translate Spanish word means something like enthusiasm, motivation, or, simply just feel like doing something.