Translate This Page
My aim is to share my story in the hope it will inspire you, to find your purpose in life, make a living from your passion and live the life of your dreams.
Hi my name is Angela, I was born and brought up in England. I have lived in England all my life. Thank you for dropping by, I hope you gain something from my Blog. I am happy to connect with you. Lets talk about Holistic living – Remember Holistic living isn’t just about food, it’s about your whole being. That’s mind, body and soul. I believe that everyone can and should live the life of their dreams. Believe it or not it’s possible. Everyone has a purpose in life, your purpose is what you are innately passionate about. Your purpose in life is to use your passion to help others, some call it Destiny or living their dream. You know you are living your life's purpose when you can't wait to get out of bed in the morning to get started, you would do what you do, for free. You can't believe you get paid for what you do. I believe that if everyone did what they were passionate about the world of work would be a better place. Check out archived Blogs. Last year was a series of talks about how we care for our Mind, Body and Soul which focused on living holistically. We have had blogs that focused on the body, from what we do with our hands, where our feet take us and what we class as private, in the past we have looked at 'What you do for living' we also dealt with 'SELF=YOU' and ' The Exhorted Soul' all books can now be found on Amazon (https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01NBV5SA0)
This year we will focus on HAPPINESS! I will offer snippets of the book these blogs will form.
What is it?
According to Vocbulary.com - Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can't help but smile. It's the opposite of sadness.
Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. When people are successful, or safe, or lucky, they feel happiness. The "pursuit of happiness" is something this country is based on, and different people feel happiness for different reasons. Whenever one is doing something that causes happiness, they usually want to do more of it. No one ever complained about experiencing too much happiness.
I propose that happiness is a momentary emotion. What makes you happy? A New Car? A New House? New Clothes? I propose that we are happy for a MOMENT. Let's look at going on …We become happy considering going on …..Shall I put a 'time' on this? Let's say 1.5 hours while we think about the possibility. While attending the travel agent or scrolling through the destination sites on the internet...Happiness is experienced every-time you think of opening the site or getting ready to go to the travel agent. During the experience you will remain happy...Let's put a time on it...approximately 80 hours, over a period of two weeks. You are happy when you view your chosen airlines' arrival and departure times for your destination. You are happy when you look for hotels and compare them. Some of us make excel sheets to plan the cost of the holiday, when that folder is open, we are happy! Some of us have a holiday tin in-order to save money for our trip. Every-time we look at the tin, we are happy, every-time we add money to the tin, we are happy. Happiness is a momentary emotion. As the holiday draws near, you find happiness in buying your holiday clothes, you perhaps change some money into the currency of your destination.
Getting the house ready to be left for two weeks, while you are away, may bring happiness as you remember the reason you are doing the work. This may consist of emptying the freezer and fridge, perhaps you will stop shopping every week, but eat the contents, thinking that you will be able to leave few items in the fridge and freezer! The plants and kitten can go to a relative and they can check on the house while you are away.
So the holiday is set, you have done a lot of preparations, most of which gave you happiness. The day of your departure has arrived, you are happy and endure the queue at the airport, the 5 hour delay of the flight, the terrible coffee and fast food you had to buy and eat.
No happiness there.
You eventually get into your seat on the plane, which is squashed between two people who were insistent on taking as much space they can steal from you. They then fall asleep, snore and felt more comfortable leaning in your direction! No happiness there.
You leave the plane and head for your hotel...OK let's assume the hotel is great and you have a wonderful holiday...You are happy whilst enjoying the hotel and holiday...The memories of the holiday minus the plane ride there, will be bring you happiness.
Are you getting the picture? Happiness is a momentary emotion.
Happiness is a journey not a destination- Ben Sweetland. As you saw above, most of the happiness experienced stemmed from 'getting there'.
Happiness confused with contentment.
There may be items around your home, that when you look at them, you feel happy! You feel happy in that moment while looking at, or walking past the item. Perhaps you reminisce about where you brought or the circumstance in which you acquired the item. The item could be a picture and as you look at the faces smiling back at you, you feel happy. A picture of my children and Grandson always, always make me smile. As I pass the bust I have of Harriet Tubman and Fredrick Douglass, they look down at me from the top of my bookshelf, I smile as I am happy that I had them commissioned. Happiness is monetary.
Happiness is also a journey, one becomes happy thinking about the destination i.e getting that promised gift, going on holiday, going to purchase something for yourself or a loved one etc. I found that most people use the word happiness instead of the contentment! 'Contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction' Oxford Languages
Contentment is an emotional state of satisfaction that can be seen as a mental state, maybe drawn from being at ease in one's situation, body and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment could be a state of having accepted one's situation and is a milder and more tentative form of happiness. Wikipedia
Lee Serpa Azevado in his article 'Happiness vs. Contentment' states that 'Happiness is generally defined as the experience of frequent positive thoughts, such as joy, interest or pride. Contentment is generally defined as a longer lasting, but a deeper feeling of satisfaction and gratitude. Happiness is arguably viewed as having a temporary feeling attached to it'.
Some may say, if happiness is monetarily, why do so many people state, when asked, "what do you wish for your life?" They often say that they just want to be happy. We know that that statement is loaded and often mean that they want to be healthy, financially comfortable, which further means to be able to pay their bills, their rent or mortgage and to purchase what they want when they want it. This type of happiness, they want for themselves and their family. So just wanting to be happy means so much more. In fact in this instance, being happy means being in a state of satisfaction.
For me, feeling content means having all my ducks in a row. Everything in my mind at the time, feels in place. I must admit, I have have had very few episodes of contentment. The ultimate feeling of contentment came one night on a weekend trip to my parents' house. I had two children at the time who were with me. The children were asleep on the double bed we were to sleep on. I got in beside them and turned to my mother and said "If I died tonight I would feel comfortable leaving" I remember my mum asking me if I felt that I was going to die? I can not remember my answer to her, but needless to say, I didn't die, but that feeling of being satisfied with the world, the fact that my children were safe and should I depart this world, they would be looked after, made me feel content.
I have had other minor feelings of contentment, when my children were young and had a full day of play in our garden (this was usually during summer break). They would have eaten well, had their baths and are settled in bed, after which I clear the living room of their toys, as I did that task, I would feel content.
I could give you other minor feelings of contentment, but they all include my children being safe, fed, warm and happily asleep. Now my children are all adults, my minor feelings of contentment take the form of being grateful. I am grateful for waking up, grateful for being able to go out and purchase what I want, or having the choice to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I try to be grateful as often as I can remember to be. I wouldn't call my minor bouts of contentment, moments of happiness, for me, the feelings are deeper than momentary or fleeting which can be attributed to being happy. Contentment, as mentioned above is an 'all is well' feeling. For me that would be all is well with my household and my world, I would feel that I am satisfied with my lot! Contentment like happiness is a moment by moment experience. I no longer feel great contentment that my children are safe, fed, warm and asleep. I can only assume that they are well and safe. Whether they have fed themselves and they are warm is now a wish I have for them, but if they decide they do not want either, there is very little I can do about it. As mentioned above, contentment for me, comes in the form of being grateful. The more I can feel grateful, the more I experience contentment.
What makes a person content, varies depending on their life at the time. I propose that, if like me, you are grateful for waking up in the morning, and for what most people take for granted you will experience contentment everyday.
Can you decide to remain happy? If so, for how long?
Think of a morning that you woke up late, you missed the bus or train that would get you into work on time. OR, you spill coffee on the cuff of your white shirt/blouse you are wearing, you don't have the time to change it as you have an important scheduled person to person meeting. You get in your car and hear a sound that tells you that something is not right with your car, you can't let it bother you right now, the car is still moving and stopping when the brakes are applied, you just need to get to that meeting. Needless to say, you hit traffic and know at this point you will be late.
How do you think you will be feeling while experiencing any of the scenario's above? Not happy I guess! Is it possible to remain happy, no matter what is happening or situation you are in?
I can not consider myself smiling (some may use as a visual sign of being happy!) when I am late for work or an important meeting. But I propose that we can eke out happiness in any situation. Remember that happiness is momentary! In order to eke out happiness in stressful situations one could use gratitude to get you there. In the scenario above, survey the situation. Tell yourself...It is not the end of the world as you know it. You are not running for your life. In fact being late does not threaten your life in any way or form. You should consider the situation at face value, or look at the whole 'scheme of things' In the whole scheme of things, you may say "I will be late, they may feel I am tardy, they may think I am not a professional. I may not get the job etc...These thoughts will surface, but if you do all you can, given the situation you are in, there is nothing more you can do. So in this situation you contact the person or the office of the person you are scheduled to meet, and explain that you are running late giving a time you hope to get there. Perhaps you will be told that the person you are about to meet is also running late, or you may be invited to re-arrange for another date. Our intention at the beginning of that day would be to arrive on time, but as we see, things do not always work out as planned. How do you feel in these situations? In my world, I remind myself that everything happens for a reason and that everything is actually working in my favour. My momentary happiness comes from the knowledge that this situation is just a hiccup in my day, and does not take anything away from me, especially not my happiness! Many people will use the scenario above to have a s*** day. If situations or even a spilt cup of coffee can cause some to decide to have an 'off' day, one can decide to remain happy although situations may not be the best, or as planned.
The other part of the question in the title was...How long can we remain happy? As happiness is momentary, and the scenario above may to make one feel a little low the whole day, if that is the case, can one remain happy for the whole day? Sure, just as one can decide to to feel s*** for a day, it can be substituted for happiness. You may feel that being happy after turning up late for an important meeting does not make any sense, no one would feel happy after a morning like the one described in the scenario. For me, it makes no sense at all to allow one thing or situation that does not threaten my life, to dictate my whole day in a negative way. So deciding to be happy instead of unhappy for the day, answers our question...Can you decide to remain happy, if so for how long? One certainly can decide to be happy for the whole day if they so wish.
Is happiness something that happens to you?
"Did she have a happy life"?
"She had a happy life".
"He had an unhapppy life"!
"He's whole life was unhappy"!
The statements above are instances where people have attributed life situations to happiness or unhappiness.
Lets look at the statement made about the man, his name is Mark, he started his adult life mixing with what some would call, the wrong crowd of people, who encouraged him to indulge in illegal activities. He was arrested and incarcerated for four years. Returning to life outside, Mark got married and later had two children. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last and his partner left taking the children. Mark turned to drink and found it difficult to secure any long term employment. He succumbs to kidney failure and dies. At his funeral a friend states "he had an unhappy life"
The woman, let's call her Wendy, who merited the statement "she had a happy life" started her adult life much the same as Mark in the above scenario, however she met a partner who didn't live the same care free life she had been living, and enabled her to take a look at her life and where it could lead. They later married, but had difficulty conceiving. Wendy took stock of her life again and dedicated it to teaching pre-school children. At the age of 95 she dies, at her funeral most can be heard saying " she had a happy life".
Considering the scenarios above and the statements that were made about Mark and Wendy, one may ask the question - Is happiness something that happens to you? We know that happiness is momentary and an emotion, so how can happiness be ascribed to someone's life? Perhaps we assume that a person is happy when they are not constricted in any way, in regards to health issues, financial issues or as Mark in the scenario above, incarcerated. Or do we assume that a person is happy when they have/get or find what they feel they want in life? for example good health, no financial issues and free to do what they please?
As we saw, Wendy didn't have everything she wanted as she was unable to conceive! She made her life appear happy by finding another love of her life, teaching pre-school children. Would you agree that she made herself or her life happy? "mek you self happy" is a saying Jamaicans use when telling someone to cheer up, or is applied to themselves when outwardly, the situation does not look as good as they would have liked. The saying then is, I just "mek myself happy" As happiness is an emotion, it has to be created and experienced from within. Perhaps Mark couldn't find a place of happiness within himself or another love to dedicate his life too as Wendy did!
I believe that we create bouts of happiness throughout our day. Let's start with our home, the place during 'lockdown' we spent most of our time. Are there items around your home that make you smile when you look at them? For me, its the busts of Harriet Tubman and Fredrick Douglass, the pictures of my children and grandson. I do not smile each time I walk pass these items, it is when I take the time to glance up at the busts or on my table that contain my family pictures that I smile, feel happy (and warm).
Are there pieces of clothing that makes you happy when you wear them, perhaps a pair of slippers that make you feel comfortable, nice and cosy, warm and happy?
Perhaps its the curtains that you open and or close making your room feel and look luxurious, that make you feel happy!
Is there a particular meal or foods that make you feel happy preparing or eating it?
Are there smaller items that make you feel happy? like the rug you place your feet on when you get out of the shower or bed in the morning?
Is there a particular time of the day that make you feel happy when it appears? I love twilight!
Maybe it's feeling the breeze on your face, the sounds of nature or even sitting in your car, that makes you happy. Perhaps it is the smile on the face of another, especially when you caused it! I could go on, but you get the jest.
As mentioned earlier, gratefulness gets you there. Being grateful for the small things, helps to evoke happiness. Is it possible that Wendy was grateful for the ability to work with pre-schoolers, that kept her working with them for as long as she was able. In doing this, Wendy appeared happy to the people around her, thus the expressed thoughts "she had a happy life". Was Mark ungrateful then? to warrant the comment " his whole life was unhappy". Was he ungrateful that he was alive, that he could feel the breeze on his face, a worn in pair of slippers, his partner, his children or his freedom? Or did his mindset have something to do with the expressed thoughts at his funeral? In my book 'Love live holistically-A Concept of Self Love' in the chapter 'Mindset' we learned how our mindset may determine our life. An open minded person may have such a mindset regarding life situations and willing to keep trying new things, in order to change unwanted situations. A closed minded person may decide that whatever life throws at them, is their lot in life and there isn't much they can do about it. Could mindset have contributed to Mark and Wendy's life? Maybe the answer lays with the original question asked ' Is happiness something that happens to you'?
Having something happen to you, sounds like an experience that is dependant on external factors. We know that happiness is an emotion (something internal). So can we agree that we sometimes decide to conjure up happiness in response to external factors? Like a new bag, clothes, car, house presents etc...Happiness is an emotion that you decide to experience and or display.
Have you given someone a gift or did something for a friend, who appeared ungrateful? They may have been happy for the gift or what you did for them, but choose not to display happiness. Consider another person you have given a gift or did something for, and this person jumped up and down, gave you a hug or showed their appreciation for what you did for them. Did happiness happen to both these people? or did they conjure up the emotion and displayed it or not display it to your satisfaction?
Happiness is an emotion that is as personal and individual as we are. Happiness does not happen to us, we build it. We touched on being grateful and noted that, for some, a cosy warm worn in pair of slippers evoked happiness. They, in fact attributed happiness to a pair of slippers!
We internally conjure up happiness to external stimuli, but should thrive for those moments that make us smile to ourselves and remain grateful.
Can you remain happy, when your situation is in congruent to the display of happiness?
Why would you attempt to remain happy when your situation is far from ideal and happiness may be the last thing on my mind?
In order to answer that question, you would need to ask yourself 'are you reacting to unwanted situations in a way that benefits your well being'? And is this possible? This chapter will ask the above questions, it will also ask, what has equanimity got to do with it?
What would happen if we took a deep breath, and reacted to unwanted situations on it's merits, in such a way that would be of benefit to your body and those around you?
In my book SELF=YOU chapter 7- Patience, I mention a client that became so upset at not being able to find a document that she vomited! This was her body reacting to an unwanted situation. I also mentioned in this chapter, a friend of mine at the time, acted as if the world had stop spinning because she received a tax bill, having paid the said bill only a few days ago. Both people reacted as if the unwanted situation was bigger than it really was. Both people were, perhaps extreme in their thinking regarding their problem.
Throughout the chapter I mention the feelings and thoughts I had when my teenage children were late home or didn't return for days!Perhaps I could have calmed my thoughts and feelings, perhaps my client and friend could have reacted differently to their situations. Could we have displayed happiness instead of panic? Maybe not. While reacting negatively to unwanted situations our body also react. Our body releases hormones that prepare us to run away or fight, and the longer we stay in that state the more we stress our body. Which could lead to further unwanted situations, namely health issues. Think about the last few times you had an unwanted situation, how did you react? What did you do that was conducive to reifying the issue? Here is a scenario, how would you react? Think of someone driving and they are 'cut up' by another driver at the lights! They rant and rave, make hand gestures and do not stop thinking about the incident until the next morning! As they have had to tell everyone they interacted with that day, about 'what happened'. The ranting and raving did not get the other driver driver back or teach them a lesson. The negative reaction did not get our driver to their destination any quicker, in fact it made the rest of the journey unpleasant, not to mention what it did to their body during the fist pump, yelling and shouting as the other driver drove away. We have looked at the reasons why we should remain positive and not intentionally stress ourselves out, especially when we are unable to change the situation or bring about the desired outcome.
Using the examples above, our question is 'can you remain happy, when your situation is in congruent to the display of happiness?' We are aware of many professions (Police, Nurses, Doctors, Fire fighters etc) that remain calm in situations where, the lay person, runs shouting and screaming for the hills. It is their training and knowledge that enables these professionals to remain calm in any given situation. Imagine what your life would be like if you adopted some of their (calm in adversity) traits! You would not 'fly off the handle at a drop of a hat' (meaning, you would not immediately become angry, or react in a negative way to unwanted or difficult situations.) Start today, here are three steps: 1) Survey the situation, 2) Decide what you can do, if anything, to change the situation. 3) Realise that this, whatever the situation is, will not be the end of the world as we know it.
What has equanimity got to do with remaining happy, when your situation is in congruent to the display of happiness? Firstly, what is equanimity? It is a state of calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation. According to Wikipedia, Equanimity is having an even mind;It is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.
In order to answer the question asked, we need to go back to the 6th century and the beginning of Buddhism. Equanimity or (upekkha) is one of the four great virtues along with compassion, loving kindness and sympathetic joy or empathy. The word (upekkha) means to 'overlook' i.e to look over . Thich Nhat Hanh in his book 'in the heart of the Buddha teaching' p161. He states that “ You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other” As mentioned earlier, if one surveys (look other) the situation, you may note that there is no roaring lion. Decide what you can do to change the situation, if anything. Realise that this, whatever the situation is, will not be the end of the world as we know it.
Here is an early Buddhist poem from the Therigatha. “ If your mind becomes firm like a rock and no longer shakes. In a world where everything is shaking your mind will be your greatest friend and suffering will not come your way”. This poem is a reminder that when unwanted situations arises we are not to allow our minds to 'run away' with us, we are to stand firm in the knowledge that there is no lion, and that our current unwanted situation is not the end of the world. One should stay in the here and now, right now, this minute. In Toni Bernhard's article 'Equanimity - The Key To Happiness' she states that accepting life as it is 'right now' even if the present moment is a sad or difficult one, is equanimity, it is Inner peace and it is happiness. Being present enough to overlook the whole situation, enables us not to be bound by one side or the other, which creates less stress.
Another great teacher comes from Socrates (49 399 BC) 'Pursuit-of-happiness.org ' discusses the 'history of happiness' in which they state that Socrates had certain beliefs, chief among them is the concept that “happiness is obtainable and teachable through human effort”. That is taking stock, being aware of the present, (human effort) for example, I am standing here in my house slippers and dressing grown with this bill in my hand, that I may not be able to pay. I am not face to face with a roaring lion! Our bodies, by the way, does not know the difference between a bill we can not pay and being face to face with a lion. If you act or react as if your world is about to end, because you have received a bill, your body will certainly follow your lead and jump into action. By training or teaching the mind to react positively, according to Socrates would “produce a divine-like state of inner tranquillity that the external world could not effect.” Remember the early Buddhist poem from the Therigatha: If your mind becomes firm like a rock....Which is the display of equanimity.
“The key to happiness, Socrates argues, is to turn attention away from the body and towards the soul. By harmonizing our desires, we can learn to pacify the mind to achieve a divine-like state of tranquillity” So slowing down that mind from 'I won't be able to pay this bill' or like the client mentioned above 'I can't find that document, I can't find that document' to, 'This bill will get paid, I'll call the utility company and tell them what I can afford to pay now' or 'I will have another look for that document, and if I can not find it. I will call the company that produced it, and ask for another copy'.
Pursuit-of-happiness.org goes on to say that “Socrates makes it clear that the key to happiness is not to be found in the goods that one accumulates, or even the projects that form the ingredients of one’s life, but rather in the agency of the person himself who gives [her/his] life a direction and focus”. What type or agency of person are you? Quick to react with negativity or are you more laid back in stressful situations?
Socrates felt that we should find harmony with the body and soul, when this is attained “one possesses psychic harmony, no matter what life throws at the just man, he never loses his inner composure, and can maintain peace and tranquillity despite the harshest of life’s circumstances. [Equanimity]. Here Socrates effectively redefines the conventional concept of happiness: it is defined in terms of internal benefits and characteristics rather than external ones” So what type of person are you? Someone who allows unwanted situations to dictate their behaviour or someone who realises that xxxx happens and I have to deal with it, the best I can?
“The price Socrates paid for his honest search for truth was death: he was convicted of “corrupting the youth” and sentenced to die by way of Hemlock poisoning. But here we see the life of Socrates testifies to the truth of his teachings. Instead of bemoaning his fate or blaming the gods, Socrates faces his death with equanimity, even cheerfully discussing philosophy with his friends in the moments before he takes the lethal cup.” Source: https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/
We may not all have the strength and convictions of Socrates, but we can learn from his teachings and note that it is not the unwanted situation that causes our body to evoke the hormones that race through it, in readiness to fight, but our perception of the situation, and by using taught behaviour one will create equanimity or happiness, thus creating a more stress-less life.
If you have enjoyed my blog and would like to contribute to its continued help and guidance to others, please donate. All donations gratefully received and appreciated.
Leave your name and an email address with any question you may have, and I will personally get back to you as soon as I can. Look forward to hearing from you. Love Live Holistically.
As you may be aware I publish a book a year. This years' theme is HAPPINESS. In order to gather some data,(research) can you please let me know what makes you happy?
I'll Start........My Children