Next time you are in a busy place where people are walking or shopping, please take a few minutes to people watch with the crystal clear intention of observing joy. How many people are smiling? How many people look happy? How many of these souls radiate joy?
Step #2: Smile at strangers and observe their reaction. Observe how many people smile back at you and any other emotions your smile elicits.
**Spoiler Alert** This exercise is a regular practice for me. I have yet to find a large group of people that consist of more than the random happy person and often not a single soul falls into the category of “radiating joy” that is older than a very young child. In a sample group of over 100 people I will see an average of two people smiling. This number includes people in conversations. This may sound depressing, and yes at some levels at is, but it has been a lesson and motivator for me.
As for Step #2, the results I find are mixed. The most surprising element of this experiment is how many people return my smile with a look as if they are thinking, “What are you so happy about? What’s the matter with you?”
I work in Yaletown, one of the swankiest neighbourhoods in Vancouver, BC Canada. Maseratis, Mercedes and Bentley’s speckle the roads, real estate is available at top dollar and the inhabitants clearly buy the best of the best from sunglasses to stilettos, lattes to high tech gadgets, yet the vast majority of adults look miserable. Abosolutely miserable.
By societies standards these people are the winners, they made it into the lucrative top percentage of people who can afford anything money can buy yet they find no happiness in it. What does this tell me? That being driven by goals of consumption and material demands does not lead to happiness.
As we dive head first into this new year and the juggernaut of society continues to build, multiply and consume, know that every choice you make is a vote and that makes each individual influential and powerful. When is enough enough? Why do we think that accumulating more stuff equates to greater happiness when clearly it is a burden?
We can all agree that at a base level we are happy when we our basic human needs of shelter, food, clothing and love are met and we are unhappy when they are not. Somewhere along the way society has added a premium to more stuff equaling more happiness and that is where we took a tragic left turn as a species.
I challenge myself and my readers to ask some deep questions about how we will cultivate greater balance and true long lasting happiness in our lives. I have lived a life overflowing with teachers that I would never in my right mind have requested, but man did they ever teach me a lot about love, balance and life.
In my humble opinion we find happiness in the stillness. In the peace of being in the present moment. Of watching the joy of children and recognizing that we too were once made happier by a hug from our Mom than just about anything we consume in our adult lives. If we want to live a life of true happiness and contentment, it requires work. I recently wrote about the difference between pleasure, happiness and joy if you want to dive a little deeper into the topic.
The time has come for us as aware individuals to do more than talk about change, we have to live the change. Please try this exercise and start smiling more yourself to cultivate joy. If there is to be peace in the world we must have peace in our own hearts.
Photographs courtesy of my talented husband Richard van Reeuwyk and my Happy Boxes Project.
All good things to you and thank you so much for stopping by! Wishing you peace, grace and love today and all days – Lisa _/|\_
Please Like my BloomLisa Facebook Page to get your daily dose of my new “Happy Boxes”, a co-creation of affirmations and quotes paired with my husband’s beautiful photography. Or here for my Twitter and Pinterest accounts. I am accepting booking in the Metro Vancouver area for holiday events both for corporate and private functions.