There are four major roads to happiness: pleasure, engagement, meaningfulness, and relationships.
What have you done this summer to add experiences in all of these areas of your life? Consider writing things down in all 4 categories and see which ones you may have scored an A+ and which areas you could pay more attention to.
In terms of pleasure, I have attended and watched many movies this summer. Julie/Julia hit the top of my list. I’ve had lots of laughs thanks to the movies. And I finally started Netflix so I can see many of the independent films I’ve missed or that didn’t make it to Las Vegas. Jersey Boys was filled with great music from the past, as was Love, and the other Vegas shows provided me with plenty of summer pleasure! Water for Elephants, Best Friends Forever, and The Reader have been great pleasurable summer reads.
I’ve eaten at several new restaurants, had great Thai and Italian dishes. I have made several great salads and many seafood dishes. I actually had a Whoopee Pie on vacation. I thank my friend Kathryn for telling me about them – wow! I’ve even allowed myself to have chocolate and vanilla shakes whenever I wanted them this summer.
I ate eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and lots of herbs from my garden. I spend a number of hours finding all the 5-leaved rose markers for clipping. And when I want to space out a bit or be totally engaged, I water my struggling, new lawn. It is easy to spend 30 minutes getting every little space filled with water so it grows in thick. It is also fun chasing the pigeons away with the jet spray from the hose.
Books such as Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Love as the Way to Live, Creating Your Best Life, The How of Happiness, and Positivity have provided me with my reading for engagement. I have had many days of being in flow writing for my blog, Happiness Talk. I also felt quite engaged when I read the chapter I wrote which will be published this fall.
Much of my flow or engagement comes from cooking. I’ve tried several recipes from the new chefs which allowed me to spend weekends in flow while also having good food for entertaining friends. The conversations with friends always provide me with great engagement. Meeting and getting to know a few new friends this summer was most engaging and pleasurable.
I think a lot of my work with clients is pure engagement. Separating it from meaningfulness is sometimes difficult. Helping others is always meaningful. But helping while engaged can be a purely spiritual experience. I have both couples I see for relationship coaching and individuals I talk with virtually and in person for life and business coaching. At times we are running through the daffodils or smelling the roses, riding the waves, going down the tongue of the river or floating in the clouds on our way towards their dreams. It is the most blessed experience to be asked into the journey of someone else’s life and have the pleasure and reward to traveling to new and adventuresome places. I’m honored to help access and provide meaning for them as it is reflected right back to me. Every day I receive magnificent gifts of this nature.
Another most meaningful part of my week is when I call my beloved 83 year old friend. She has hospice care but is otherwise alone and lonely. She was meant to be with people but at this age and with her condition, she spends her time, as so many older people do, isolated. She has an active mind which is always thinking and processing the political scene, DNA and now the meaning of life. It is special to listen to her and resonate with her, bringing joy to both of us. To spend an hour on the phone laughing with Bev is the food of angels. Seeing her this summer was also meaningful in the discussing of her death and the joy of her life.
Going to the beach with a friend who has had several heart attacks this year was also quite a special time of engagement and meaning. The connection we felt as he went into the Pacific for possibly his last time was like waltzing the tango. Time was suspended as we talked and soaked up the vitamin D. Watching him swim was such a joy, the smile on his face too precious for words. I have to admit it felt like we were about 20.
Being at Priest Lake on the boat with Stephen, Barrister and Jewell was pleasurable and engaging because of the beauty of nature. Watching Jewell fly at the picnic site was a pleasurable experience without bounds. A week of personal connection with the bonds of friendship with Stephen and his family added deep meaning to my life.
I redid my trust and will – writing some of it was engaging, but it has much meaning when I think of how right it feels. Cleaning out my closet and giving things to Sis was engaging and meaningful. Spending time on the lake with her and Cy was too. Enjoying a family breakfast with a sorority sister I have not seen for 43 years was a beautiful connective experience. Beyond words. Spending time with my great granddaughter was filled with the laughter and love of the generations. Being with my kids and best friends and feeling the loving safety of those relationships topped off my summer. The joy of a phone call from Paul my step son, a beautiful note from him, the “I love you” at the end of calls with him, Sis and friends, are such indescribably delicious relationship moments. Hanging out with girlfriends, old and new always goes through all four of these categories. Enjoyable conversations with my ex, the same. Being at the hospital with my dearest friend and having him be alive, was again a loving connective experience. It feels like something without time that endures for eternity.
The relationships in our lives are precious. I hope you are having pleasure, engagement and meaning in the most important ones in your life! I hope your summer was filled with as many moments creating happiness as mine!