a while ago, alex shalman interviewed 34 people on the subject of happiness. following up on this, he created the happiness project, a group writing project where everyone who wishes answers questions about what happiness is for them. these posts then are gathered on his blog, here.
below are my answers. and if you’d like to participate, read on for the guidelines to be part of this.
1. how do you define happiness?
happiness is whatever feels good and right. on a happy day, i go to bed with a feeling of contentment. i don’t regret anything and am resting in the knowledge that i have contributed to the world.
2. on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your happiness now, versus when you were a child?
that’s hard to say. childhoods are long and often arduous. mine was. on a gut level? my happiness is around an 8 now, and maybe a 5.5 when i was a child.
3. what do you do on a daily basis that brings you happiness? (and how consistent is the feeling of happiness throughout your day)
these are things that i maybe don’t do each and every day but definitely most of the time
- contribute to the good of the world
- spend time with people who i deeply appreciate and who deeply appreciate me – close friends and family
- write, especially poetry
- connect with friends, including spending time on twitter
- hug people
- remember how blessed i am
- relaxing into the moment. experiencing and participating in what is, not what was or what will be.
how consistent is the feeling of happiness throughout the day? oh, that depends. i don’t think it often goes below 6, even when i’m in a depression.
4. what things take away from your happiness? what can be done to lessen their impact or remove them from your life?
they’re not things. they are my thoughts. it’s all in how i frame my experience. even when i’m challenged, for example when i’m overly tired, i know i can relax into the moment.
what can be done to lessen the impact of my unhelpful thoughts? often it just helps to remember that this, too, shall pass and that all in all, my life is pretty darn good. when it gets really uncomfortable – something that doesn’t happen that often anymore, thank god – then i like to remember what pema chodron suggests: go into the feeling, right into it. for example fear. where in my body does it sit? what is it like? go right into it, and it transforms.
by far the biggest problem is that i forget. unless i’m in deep doodoo, i forget that i have all these wonderful tools. of course that’s my mind again – this type of forgetting is self-sabotage.
take away the forgetting and at least half of the barriers against more happiness would be gone.
5. what do you plan on doing in the future that will bring you even more happiness?
the less i plan, the better. and there is nothing that brings me closer to where i need to be – happiness, fulfilment, groundedness, aliveness, whatever you want to call it – than being present, right there with the divinity of the moment.
how to deal with the forgetfulness – right now i am part of a support group that helps each other with frequent phone calls. so: i’m planning to discuss this with them.
most of all i want to keep remembering that it’s not all about my little happiness. my own individual happiness is meaningless without the context of others’ wellbeing. i don’t mean this in a codependent way. i can be perfectly happy walking around vancouver’s downtown eastside, surrounded by the suffering and misery of people deep in the throes of poverty, substance use and survival sex trade.
however, i can only do this with my heart, mind, eyes, arms and hands open. literally. if i’m unwilling to give in to the spontaneous desire to have a little chat with the toothless old native woman who has schizophrenia, and to buy her some smokes if i feel so moved and/or hug are at the end of it, i can’t say i’m truly happy.
so. wanna talk about happiness on your blog?
here’s how alex set it out:
group writing project guidelines
- answer the questions. in a new post answer the questions that you see above, while being as genuine and open as possible. i might not know you very well yet, but believe me, you are awesome, and i want your readers and my readers to be able to see this extraordinary side of you.
- overview and linkback. in the introduction of your post, go ahead and give a brief overview of what the happiness project is and where you happened to hear about it first. this is the part where i would appreciate if you linked back to this post, in order to let people know about the guidelines, and how they can participate. while your doing that, i would love it if you also linked to the main happiness project page, and gave people access to the full list of interviews and participants.
- tag your blog friends. the purpose of this project is to share it with as many people as possible and to spread the awareness about happiness all over the world. the best way you can help us do that, aside from answering the questions on your own blog, is to tag some of your blogging friends (no limit here, the more the merrier), and let them know to participate.
- comment here + i link to you. after you’ve successfully published your happiness project post on your blog, and linked back to this post, go ahead and leave a comment here to let me know you participated. what i will do is add a link to your entry into the main happiness project page as soon as i can. another bonus is that i’ll do periodic updates of where the happiness project is going, in which i’ll link to the newest group of participants. that means you get two links from a page rank 4 blog, and exposure to tens of thousands of people. good deal?
i invite these people – sort of randomly. if you’re not on the list, it’s not because i didn’t think of you, or because you’re not invited, it’s because i was too lazy to dig out your URL 🙂
(image by estherase)