Happiness starts with how we look at ourselves. Feelings are our happiness gauge. How we handle the wide range of our emotional life depends on how we accept and appreciation ourselves and our “body feelings.” Feelings such as fear, anxiety, insecurity, as well as good feelings of pleasure, acceptance, or satisfaction can be the barometers of our being.
It is not easy for us to look deeply into ourselves, to try to understand why we react the way we do. In times of physical or emotion threat, we become so used to protecting ourselves by defensive actions, remarks, or projecting the feelings we deny onto other people, that we sincerely see no need to examine ourselves. Sometimes it takes a great personal shock—a heart attack, cancer, a loss, an accident, an illness—to push us into ourselves. Then such a crisis can be seen as a fortuitous event. In fact, life often turns the experience of the negative in affirmation.
Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within us. That is, he claims, God resides in every part of who we are. Human nature might not always show itself as good, in fact it can sometimes be aggressive, defensive, malicious, and even violent. Good and evil are within us and cause a tension that strives to be resolved. If we are continuously and honestly learning and growing, we are always in a process of “re-selving”—looking within ourselves fearlessly.
The deep we probe into our consciousness, the more we will learn about ourselves and why we react the way we do. We should not be too proud to examine our values and beliefs, even our religious beliefs. Who is God? What do we value? What has the greatest importance? What is our place in the world? Why do we usually become angry in a certain situation? What feelings of depression arise in reaction to certain problems? Why do we become elated at a certain event and happening?
The French have an expression: le petite bonhour– often translated. “the little happiness” or “little pleasures.” Hopefully, we experience them each day: little feelings of joy found in the commonplace. We can learn to recognize them quickly, freeze them, and put them into our memory: Enjoying an act of generosity or love, an accomplishment, completing a task, fun at a wedding, savoring a spring day.
There are thousands of feeling of pleasure etched in our memories but we rarely visit them. As a person quiets oneself to pay attention to such pleasurable feelings, the result is a peaceful mind that becomes a silent witness to the goodness of life.
May you quiet your mind for a few minutes today and each day so that you can experience le petite bonheur. There is a treasure of memory beneath the wellspring of our feelings which can stay with us and give us health—physical, emotional, social, and spiritual