Posted on by Erin | Earnest Home

pursuit of happiness

Have you guys read 10% happier yet?  I spent the long flight home reading the book and this was one quotation that I took away and a big thought-provoking topic for me.  I actually asked the guy next to me to use his highlighter to annotate in my book.

At first glance, it might seem like kind of a downer, but I see it as quite the opposite. I found this quotation from it highly liberating.

The author speaks about how constantly seeking happiness forces us to not live in the present.  I am no different.  I spend a lot of time beating myself up about something stupid I did in the past or projecting into the future.  I read this part of the book and a light switch kind of flipped. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t classify myself as an unhappy person. I would instead classify myself as never really ‘at ease’. I constantly go through periods of anxiety where I think that I’m not preparing properly for what’s down the line.  I think, “but it will be over as soon as I…(do whatever)”. It actually kind of reminds me of the Sex and the City episodes when Carrie is dating Aleksander and he’s never done with whatever he’s working on.  So much of the time, it causes me to miss out on what’s going on right now.  This happens for me in both business and in life. Here are two examples. 

In business, my latest thoughts have been something like, “Once my site is done, then once Alt is through, then once I can wrap up my spring line, then I’ll feel better.”  In my personal life, it’s once  I get to the airport, once I get through security, once I get on the plane, once I get home I’ll be more at ease.  These are my thoughts – just fast forwarding through life in search of the ease that is to come, but not being nostalgic about what happiness is being had right this very moment – because there is happiness in the present, I just have already skipped it over.

I don’t mean to say that pursuing happy is bad.  Not at all.  But I mean to say that how much do we let what has happened or what is about to happen formulate our current mood? What about what is happening right now?

I was letting this thought creep into my brain yesterday while sitting on the flight and really loved the sudden feeling of gratitude and calm that I felt in my present moment.  My ride to the airport was a wonderful time of quietness to finish my coffee, then I was able to skip the long security line with TSA pre-check, then I was upgraded to first class on my flight and sat reading a book with a glass of wine and warm nuts.  It was actually kind of an amazing few hours.

Today, I’m letting this thought sit with me and trying to use it to be more intentional about my actions.  Am I just sitting at my desk looking forward to winter being over and my vacation that won’t start for two months?  Or am I going to soak in the cozy, cabin feeling of being snowed into my warm house, with the opportunity to spend more one on one time with my husband? Seeing as how the former serves literally no purpose other than agitating myself, I think I’ll take the latter.

If you haven’t had the chance to pick it up, I highly recommend reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris.  The actionable advice doesn’t pick up until about halfway through the book, and is mostly about meditation (which I’m seriously curious about now), but the beginning is actually a pretty comical description on the inner workings of the authors brain which oddly mirrors what I feel is going on in my brain 99% percent of the time.  I hope you read it and would love to see how you felt about it!  If you have read it, what was your biggest take-away? Anything you’re doing different going forward?

Have a great week, guys!