Confession: I loved me some Oprah in high school. My after school routine often included fixing myself a massive bowl of cereal and then plopping myself on the couch with my snacks and homework and tuning into ABC at 4 pm. Think what you will, but I was totally into her show!
Nowadays, Oprah is not such a staple in my life. Due to the fact that we don’t have cable, and well, my work schedule is not the same as my school schedule, I barely ever watch it (and maybe it’s already ended for good?). But from time to time, I catch a really good article in her magazine. Most recently, “How to Find the Kind of Joy That Lasts.” It’s funny, whenever I’m feeling low or down on life, like clockwork something always crosses my path that forces me to reevaluate what’s fueling my mood. Wednesday was one of those days. Nothing was particularly wrong, I was just feeling kind of meh on life. Does that ever happen to you?
Then, per usual, while reading one of my favorite blogs, I was directed to this article by Martha Beck in the latest Oprah Magazine. Martha talks about how our culture has come to define happiness as an experience that completely blows our mind. And that if we aren’t experiencing something like that, we’re not only not experiencing happiness, but beyond that, we’re somehow falling short. All I could think was “Well… yeah!” when I read that. I feel like I’m falling short every day, which is why I can’t be happy… right? But she goes on to explain that true happiness, not excitement, is something much different. True joy is something much more peaceful.
At this point I had a feeling where the article was going. I was ready for Martha to tell me I needed to breathe, be still, focus on the little things, and maybe do some yoga. Not the case. While she acknowledges the value of the “be still” mentality, instead, she urges one to create. To make something. Research shows we’re most happy and relaxed when we’re creating something, and simultaneously we’re most creative when our mind is in this state. This doesn’t mean I can start cooking a new dish and my mood will do a complete 180. It means that what I need to do is put my head down and create, whether that means pushing as hard as a I can to build my business, writing a blog post, or cooking meals that force me outside my comfort zone in the kitchen. Then, when I’m truly present in the work, I’ll stop searching so much for happiness because (ideally) I’ll be so absorbed in what I’m creating in that moment. Obviously, I’m not able to work or create all the time, but Martha explains that the more one does this, the easier it becomes to “tune in to the delights of the present even when you’re not actively creating.”
Not so sure if this will work? Neither was I, but I have to tell you, just taking the time to analyze this article, gather my thoughts, and write this blog post made me pretty happy! Go see for yourself. And have a wonderful weekend while you’re at it!