Archive for November, 2014

Inspiration

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

A friend of mine recently asked me what was inspiring me.

One of the reasons why he is my friend is because he asks such interesting, thoughtful questions. He has such a yearning for knowledge and understanding and communion. And it is something that I very much want to be a part of. But because he and I live in different parts of the world, we don’t catch up in person as often as we would both like. But that’s ok. That just means we have to make the most of the time we do have together. And one of the ways in which he gets to the heart of what is happening in my life is to ask me what is inspiring me.

And it’s a serious question that deserves serious thought and attention. And it’s not trivial. It’s not easy to answer. But the more consideration I give to the answer (both during the conversation with him, and on reflection later), the more I am able to actively harness that inspiration.

In general there are very many things that inspire me: wonderful people, education (in any form), social justice, stories of people who grasp life with both hands and actively live it, a fascinating book, beauty (a frozen spider’s web on a branch in winter, a forested mountain range, a waterfall, maths and logic, poetry), my job (depending on what I’m doing in my job at the time: creating spreadsheet/database systems that improve efficiency, teaching), helping others, smiles and laughter.

At the moment people, smiles and laughter are large causes of inspiration for me.

But probably the biggest thing currently is dancing. And that’s because it has so many of the other elements interwoven into it.

  • There are wonderful people (my teachers, my fellow students) who I love talking to and laughing with and dancing with.
  • There are patterns and maths and music: a precision to the structure, a beauty to the form.
  • There is a challenge to myself to develop my skills. To improve. To train my body and my mind to work in ways it has never done before.
  • There is an aesthetic component, though that is not so much about me watching others dance, nor is it about how I think I look when I dance, it is about how I feel when I dance – the beauty in the movements of my body and the movements of his body, the synchronicity, the team work (when we do it right we complete each other).
  • It’s about the simple joy of moving.
  • It’s about education. How I learn the steps and the technique and the style. How I create patterns and schemas and how I integrate the new information into those patterns and schemas. How I think about physics and maths and muscles and music. It’s about how he teaches me. How he translates the world that he knows so well into something that I can access and take part in. About how I learn from watching others around me.
  • It’s about communication. How he leads, how I follow, how I respond to his body. How we tell a story to an audience (even if it is an audience of just the two of us).
  • It’s about thinking and not thinking. About feeling. About creativity. About call and response.

And it is just magical!

So my passion for my other sources of inspiration has not dimmed. And inspiration in any form feeds inspiration in the others. And it feeds itself.

And for me, a very big part of leading a happy, wonderful, fulfilling, successful life is about being inspired and thriving on that inspiration. And feeding it. And growing from it.

So I am dancing. And I’m inspired. And I’m happy.

Happiness

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

I’m a happy person. I smile a lot. I bounce a lot. I love life.

And some people ask me how I manage to be so happy all the time.

The first thing I say is that I’m not happy all the time. But I don’t like not being happy so I try to restrict the not happy times to a minimum. I also try not to share the not happy times with all and sundry. So I guess I probably am happier a lot more often than very many other people. And I certainly appear to be happy more often than many others.

What’s the secret of my happiness? Well, it’s somewhat simple. And yet really rather difficult at the same time.

I make a conscious decision to be happy. I work on discovering what makes me happy. And I do as much of that as I can. I understand that I can’t devote all my time to things that make me happy. I also need to do tedious household chores so that my housemate doesn’t kick me out (that would make me majorly unhappy). I need to work (and my job doesn’t always make me happy) so that I have enough money to pay my bills and pay for the things that make me happy.

Now this all sounds simple. And it is. But it does require effort. I actively need to work out what makes me happy. And what is the right thing to make me happy at any given time. And I need to cultivate moments in my life where these activities are possible. Here are some of them: drinking a decent cup of tea, meeting up with friends for a good chat, conversations with friends that leave tears of laughter running down my face, falling in love, great productive arguments with friends about important issues that get me really fired up, dancing, reading a good book, eating good chocolate, watching something good on TV, making bread to share with friends, hot showers, sleeping in. The list does go on (as do I!). 🙂

So that’s step one.

Step two is about choosing to be happy. That’s about looking for happiness in everyday situations. It’s about choosing to take joy in the cup of tea, rather than just drinking it. It’s about actively seeking out happiness rather than waiting for it to pop up and say hi. And the amazing thing about this is that happiness is a habit. Once you start looking for it, it becomes so much easier to see it. And then you don’t have to try so hard to find it anymore.

Step three is about making other people happy. Happiness is contagious. And once you start being a source of happiness for other people then their happiness creates a virtuous circle that spreads and does find its way back to you.

So it’s easy: I make myself happy. I choose to be happy. I make other people happy.

But it’s also quite tricky: it involves a concerted effort and some hard work (at times).

But it is completely worth it!

And being happy makes me happy!! 🙂