When I cook, I use recipes as guidelines. I read two to three recipes on the same concept and then wing it. Kind of like my life, I seek out advice and wisdom and then usually say “YOLO” as I wing it my way. However, some recipes should not be “winged.” At eight years old I tried my first (and last) foray into baking; by the time my lemon bars were finished, you could practically bounce them off the counters. I learned that in baking that each measurement needed to be precise.
There are lots of different recipes for happiness. A lot of them use vague, spiritual terms like when Leo Tolstoy said: “If you want to be happy, be.” You know what I am talking about, the memes, or books that were made from recycled oatmeal, promising you inner peace. To me, it just seems so much easier said then done. “If you want to be happy, be” what the hell does that really mean? In daily practice, when the bills are piling, your frustrated with your partner, or that crisis moment when you realized you ran out of popcorn? How can I be happy by just wanting it?
Don’t get me wrong, there is truth to be found in all of it. I realized that I needed to learn MY truth. My recipe for happiness is uniquely mine. In my spiritual journey I am learning so much from a variety of places; the works of an ancient Islamic mystic, the Pope, to people in my every day life who inspire me. Inspiration is boundless if you let it be. What I am finding by reading all of the recipes out there is that I need to wing it and formulate a happiness-recipe for myself. To date this is what I’ve got:
Listen to music. The power of Florence is never to be underestimated. “Dog Days are Over” literally saved my life during my first divorce. When I am holding my breath and myself so tightly, I need only to listen to “Breathe” by Telepopmusik and I calm down; or alternatively Ludacris if I need to do some regulating.
Read something uplifting or challenging. I find my brain works better if I use it to read something that uplifts it or challenges me. I have a daily meditation book that takes me 30 seconds to read and gives me something to think about for hours. Getting lost in the superficiality of Facebook doesn’t really make me feel happier at the end of the day.
See the sun, in person- not from your window. I work from home, and by choice live my life most of the time as a hermit. If I am not careful, I can turn into a cave-dwelling Gremlin. When I go out and have the sun shine on my face, my mood and perspective seem to brighten. Imagine that.
Being gentle with myself. This is a hard one for me. What we think, we are. I am learning it is okay not to have completed my to-do list in one day. Sometimes washing my hair is all I can handle, and you know what? During the dark days, it is okay if delivery Indian food, cat videos and Beyonce are the only things that keep me together.
Appreciate beauty in an unexpected place.The other day I decided to really look around my surroundings, not with a million thoughts racing, but just a quiet curiosity. I found an icicle encrusted tree branch in my front yard that actually took my damn breath away with it’s beauty.
Laugh. There is always something to laugh about if I really look. Even in the direst of times.
So, throw caution to the wind. I challenge you to make your own personalized recipe. Live it, eat, enjoy it – after all darling, isn’t this just one short, wild ride?