Beyond happy

SONY DSC

We spend a lot of time in search of happiness, which I define as a blissful state of satisfaction. Being happy makes everything a little easier—work, family, life—and even where there are hard tasks ahead, happiness seems to make them less daunting, less onerous, less tasking.

When I am happy, I can roll with whatever punches life throws at me, and nicely have found that life throws fewer punches when I am happy.

And although not perfectly so, I find happiness is infectious. When I exude happiness, I am no longer perceived as a threat to those around me and therefore allow others to stay in their own happy place, or in some cases, make it easier for them to experience happiness.

alison_me

Although happiness may initially have an external source or motivation—a job you love, good friends—it is very internal. It is a state you choose to be in. And any external impact it has is purely passive; a choice others make in its presence.

Thus, I believe, there is another level beyond happiness that is more active, more empowering, and if taken wrong, possibly more intimidating.

Joy.

Where happiness is about contentment, satisfaction and peace, joy is the embodiment of love, laughter, engagement and play. Joy takes happiness and dials it up to 11.

me-and-duke-1

Joy is the ultimate expression of freedom, and as such, it cannot be easily contained. It exudes from every pore, every movement, every thought. It is an aura that precedes your entrance into any space and remains a gleeful echo long after you have moved on.

Joy changes how we see the world around us, finding glimmers of light in even the darkest of moments. It is not about self-delusion or selective memory, but rather a complete reframing of the question of the moment.

Like happiness, joy is a choice we make as individuals. But it is a more difficult choice to maintain because it ultimately demands an expanded consciousness to what is around us and an eternal openness to the possibilities in life.

agah-me

As such, joy demands more faith than happiness, which is more easily rationalized.

Happiness, when you choose it, makes sense. Joy doesn’t have to make sense. And perhaps, the less sense joy makes, the more joyful it is.

To embrace the irrational is to truly be open to the possible.

Because it is difficult or impossible to suppress joy—not sure I know why you would want to—joy can be seen as obnoxious or intrusive to those who have yet to find their happiness or joy. That is unfortunate for those individuals.

For those in joy, however, this is another opportunity to explore, understand and exchange. In this way, joy begets joy, even if not always from person to person.

All this to say that while I continue to explore happiness in my life, I have chosen to embrace joy and hope to share it with as many people as I can.

It is my gift to myself and to others.

vic

12 Days of Gratitude – Honourable Mentions

13 days

I have the great fortune to be surrounded by love and support from a variety of sources. But with that boon comes the curse of trying to select only 12 people for whom I am grateful.

And I failed…because I now present you with the handful of souls who didn’t make the original list but who I cannot NOT thank and honour. You all mean the world to me.

Mike & Lee

Mike & Lee: Truly devoted friends who ask nothing and offer everything.

Victoria

Victoria: Always quick with a supportive smile, heart-warming giggle and welcoming spirit.

Marlies

Marlies family: Collective chaos and maniacal wit with as many facets as faces. (not all members shown here)

Asmara

Asmara: A glowing spirit who befriends all.

Mike & Nana

Mike: The buddy for when you need to bury a body, no questions asked. Devoted friend, father, husband.

agah

Agah: Debate master and brother-man from another motherland, all packaged with devotion and dedication

12 Days of Gratitude – Leela

Leela

This is Leela, a woman who could easily have occupied all 12 slots in this countdown.

A woman of many passions and indecisions, she easily ranks as my best friend, my confidante, and likely the only one who truly understands my soul…probably better than I do. No matter what I accomplish in life, in times of my greatest darkness, or when I simply need a soothing voice, Leela is the person to whom I turn first. And I hope I offer even a smidgen of the same to her.

It can take some effort to get to truly know Leela, but the rewards of doing so make any effort seem insignificant.

 

(Part Twelve of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

12 Days of Gratitude – Me

I’d like to introduce you to…well…me. I’m a true Renaissance man…and by that, I mean someone who under the best of conditions feels about 500 years old.

I’m a writer, scientist, photographer, comedian, puppeteer and hockey fanatic; and yet, despite having a lot in common with me, I have not always been my biggest fan. No matter how well I succeeded in life, I always thought I could do better, or that I would be discovered and shunned as a fraud. Well, screw me!

Now, I recommend that as many of you get to know me as possible…I’m pretty damned cool!

 

(Part Eleven of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

12 Days of Gratitude – Alayna

Alayna

This is my friend Alayna. For every reason that I told you Ned was a good man, Alayna defines what it is to be a good woman.

Friend, mother, wife, educator, nut-bar, science nerd: all qualities that make Alayna a very special woman, someone who blesses my life with every witticism and wise-crack. Buried behind a veneer of sarcasm is a passionate soul who is both demanding of and deeply dedicated to others.

To know Alayna is to have your life enriched, your mind expanded and your passions empowered (and sometimes your ass kicked).

 

(Part Ten of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

12 Days of Gratitude – Kevin (different one)

Kevin

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Kevin…no, not Sweetums from a couple of days ago…this is a different Kevin, although just as loving and sweet.

Despite not knowing each other for more than a handful of years, Kevin has welcomed me into his life, opening his heart to me in a beautiful sign of trust. Playmate, jokester, nerd-boy, gentle crusader; Kevin’s gifts know no bounds.

It is well worth trying to get to know this gentle soul who offers so much love and understanding to an oft hardened world.

P.S. If Kevin is reading this, he just raised an eyebrow and smiled.

 

(Part Nine of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

12 Days of Gratitude – Nicholas

Nicholas

This is my friend and soul mate Nicholas, a man who is more of a character than the puppets he brings to life.

From the moment of our first meeting, Nicholas and I have been kindred spirits, finishing each other’s sentences, flubbing each other’s jokes. When Nicholas embraces you into his heart, you know that you are loved and that you will never have to face any challenge alone.

Make the effort to meet the many faces of Nicholas and experience the true definition of kindness.

P.S. You can also learn more about Nicholas’ strange afflictions on his web site: Lemon Productions Inc.

(Part Eight of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)