How to be Happy Right Now
Our society is founded on a very limited definition of power, namely wealth, professional success, fame, physical strength, military might, and political control. My dear friends, I suggest that there is another kind of power, a greater power: the power to be happy right in the present moment, free from addiction, fear, despair, discrimination, anger and ignorance. This power is the birthright of every human being, whether celebrated or unknown, rich or poor, strong or weak.
~Thich Nhat Hanh – from The Art of Power~
Did you read that quote? Go back and read it again.
Powerful, isn’t it? The power to be happy right in the present moment is our birthright!
Are you happy, right now, this very second?
I have to admit when I read these words, I pulled myself up sharply. I’d been fretting, worrying, feeling a little anxious with that tight feeling in the chest that you get when you start anticipating something that may or may not happen sometime soon.
You know the feeling? Yep. That one.
We’re all a little prone to worrying, and sometimes even catastrophising, about the future. I’m certainly not immune. Especially in the middle of the night.
But Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book The Art of Power, tells us that worrying never solved anything. It takes away our power – because our power resides right here, in this very moment.
In a recent list of things I’d learned in the last month, a stream-of-consciousness thing, I wrote
“Living in the now means I am strong. I can get through almost anything if all I have to do is live this. very. moment.”
“I never thought about it in that way but you’re right it takes courage and strength to be fully present in this moment, not looking behind or jumping ahead.”
(Don’t you just love how these things happen, serendipitously?)
You see, Karen saw something different in my point to what I’d actually meant. And in that moment I knew what I’d write about here this month, on power and strength.
You see, I think we’re both right. We were simply looking at the same coin from two different sides.
On my side – heads – I see that I can only stay strong, and be powerfully present and powerfully me if I stay in the moment. Living here. now. means I can be strong no matter what the Winds of Change or the Gods of Chaos are throwing at me.
Remind me to tell you a little more about those Gods of Chaos later by the way.
On Karen’s side – tails – she saw that it took a certain strength just to be in the present moment. That the very act of living in the now required courage to not go looking behind or jumping ahead.
Now can you see why the lightbulb went on for me?
Life = Change
Life is always throwing things at us, challenging us, rocking our boat or sinking it completely and without warning.
And since change is the only constant, and ofttimes is accompanied by its lifetime companions – pain and fear – we need a plan to stay whole and sane despite change. Because of change.
And that can only come in the present moment.
A month ago, as I was publishing the July issue of Calm Space, the Gods of Chaos arrived. Again. I’ve learned they are never really far away in a life lived well. If I hid in my wardrobe all day, and never interacted with anyone, they’d still come a-calling.
They buffetted me with strong winds, threw a couple of well-aimed lightning bolts my way, and generally caused the chaos and mayhem they’re renowned for.
And I discovered something about myself all over again.
I can survive.
Right here, and right now, I’m OK. The rest is out of my control.
Use your power – be happy Now
It’s not easy, and it can take large amounts of strength and courage, but being happy right now is possible.
In fact, this is the only time you have to be happy.
Here’s some things that help me be happy right now, most of the time:
- Breathe – when things get real tough, you’ll notice you’re having trouble breathing. Your chest gets tight, and your throat seems to close up. As soon as you notice, focus on your breathing. Breathe deeply. Evenly. Count if it helps.
- Move – take a walk, dance, jump up and down – moving your body helps you get out of your head, the place where a lot of worry and heartache begins
- Write it Out – get the stuff out of your head. Whether it’s lists of all the things you need to get done or simply writing out how you feel, writing it down helps clear your mind
- Reach Out – don’t try to do it alone. There are people out there just waiting for you to honour them by asking for help
- Nurture – take the best care you’ve ever taken of yourself. Drink plenty of water. Eat nourishing, wholesome foods. Rest. Pamper. Do what you need to do.
- Knit – I find knitting a moving meditation. It stills my thoughts and allows my body to relax. Find your activity of happiness.
- Beautify – fill your days with beauty. Make your home a haven you love to be in. Nourish your senses with beautiful views, wonderful scents, glorious music, tactile fabrics and delicious food.
- Give Thanks – be grateful for all the good that is in your life in this moment. You’re richer than you know.
Go out. Grab your birthright and be happy. Right Now.
What is stopping you?