Retrospective Happiness

by Kristine Enger

It’s sweltering in Dubai now. Escaping the heat, my daughter, who’s home from university, decided to dig out a box of old home movies, which we’ve been watching lately with cups of tea, biscuits and rolled down blinds.

With three daughters, there seems to be an endless stream of birthday parties. I catch flickering images of myself offering an assortment of Barney cakes, princess cakes, cakes with numbers on them, organising musical chairs, standing guard at the bouncy castle, or pushing someone, now fully grown, on a swing.

The hairstyles, dresses, living rooms change but my face is always beaming. I look so happy, carefree and wrinkle free! Our family still intact, what did I know about life!

When we look back on things the way they were before, we inevitably measure the experience up against where we are now, and somehow draw the conclusion we were happier then. Can we only be happy in retrospect, looking back on events?

We might ask ourselves, “when is happiness really going to catch on for me, or” I had happiness before, even though I didn’t see it at the time.”

Does that indicate that we cannot be happy now, only realise it later that we should have been? Or does it mean that we have evolved and raised the bar of our own internal happiness barometer for where we are in this moment?

Does it take more now, or perhaps less?

We might argue we are just being sentimental looking back, in fact, if we look more closely, we recall there was a truckload of issues, waiting, disguised as high drama, parked just off the camera lens.

Mindfulness teaches us that happiness is an inside job.

Over time, we will indeed experience a feeling of happiness, sense a deeper level of contentment arise from deep within, as we become more mindful and expand our awareness of the present moment, and ourselves in it, through our daily practices.

More so when we decide to call a truce with the thinking mind.

Nevertheless, we cannot help but be mesmerised by looking at old photographs or footage of ourselves, as younger carefree beings.

They remind us of something precious, hidden, glorious even.

Hopeful and playful, innocent and free. Is that who we truly are?

 

Reality or Fiction

by Isabel Galiardo
Things are certainly not what they seem. What we believe to be real is false and what we consider unreal actually contains the truth.
The character we call I, which we defend and protect, is just the self-image which we present ourselves to the world. This superficial self is neither authentic nor real. Its existence is based on the need to be accepted by others. It is the result of our conditioning, the sum of ideas we have about ourselves, the learned patterns and defense mechanisms that accompany us since childhood, offering a false sense of protection. It helped us in the past to survive and adapt to the environment with the limited resources we then had, but now only limits and impoverishes our existence.
Becoming an adult has nothing to do with time passing, but with our ability to become aware of our true being. It is not so much about what we do or have but who we are. It is about being, about existing, and for that, there are no recipes or formulas. To mature emotionally requires that we leave our lairs to let ourselves be touched and affected by others. We need to let go of our false idols, our infantile need of certainties, and to relate instead to existence in a dialogue of awareness and attentive listening. When we are true to our essence, we start living exposed to the unpredictable, instead of clinging to the illusion of being in control.
When we are authentic and true to ourselves we remain open and present to the dynamic and creative current of life.
” One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be’’.
Meister Eckart
Isabel works with individuals and couples seeking to explore their relationships and themselves in an authentic way. Contact us to make an appointment to see Isabel or attend one of her workshops.  

Who Am I?

by Helen Williams

What is my self identity? 

By this we mean our:

  • individuality
  • uniqueness
  • distinctiveness
  • characteristics and personality.

And all of this within the greater experience of our country of birth, our race and our cultural identity. Within us all lies the deep yearning to know and to be known. From this comes the question of self identity, who am I? 

This question lies at the root of all searching on the journey towards meaning and purpose for our lives.

“Who we are looking for is who is looking” –  St Francis of Assisi

Who are you? Who is he/she? Who are they? These are the questions that we tend to ask about people. What are we asking and what answers are we looking for?

It’s often really difficult to say who we are as we tend to answer this question according to the box that is expected of us at the time. Mostly people ask us “what do you do?” and believe that this will answer those questions. Often this is all they are really interested in – how to box and categorise us according to our career or financial position.

For me this search is about how we allow ourselves to be seen and experienced by others. I have lost count of the people who have spoken to me over the years about their fear of being  “found out” for being a fraud and a fake. So many people live their lives trying to be all things to all people, and therefore lose the sense of who they are within. This leads to feelings of disconnection and fragmentation as we try to fit ourselves into the picture we have created.

Our Self Identity

Our identity changes often over the years – from childhood through the teenage years, then we identify with our career orientation, then we go into relationships, maybe parenthood, then on through those busy years toward midlife and then the empty nest, forward to our senior years.

The basis for our identity begins with our family of origin and any family history that is known to us. However, many of my fellow travelers on this authentic path are those whose identity cannot be based on their “background” as there is no history or connection to it; for instance, those who have been adopted and have little knowledge of their birth parents. However, beginning at birth, we lose ourselves in the sheer energy of living – in activity, in people, in beliefs, in shoulds and oughts and expectations. Mostly we identify with outward expressions of ourselves -our career, our family, our looks, our clothes, our home and possessions, our class, our education – all of these things reveal some aspects of our identity to a certain extent.

Who Am I?

In my life I have been many things to, and for, many people. I have been:

A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a grandmother, a friend, a partner, a mother, a worker, a piano player, a student, a pupil, a daughter in law, a neighbor, a gardener, a counselor, a caretaker, a lover, a singer, a yoga teacher, a cleaner, a dancer, a seeker, a cook, a meditation teacher, a class mate, a patient, a tennis player, a traveler, a reader, a writer, a wife, a girlfriend, a sister in law, and many, many more too. 

Some of these identities largely determine who I am today. Often it is only when there is a crisis of change that we begin to ask if we are being true to ourselves. Then the questions arise.

The wonderful poet Rainer Maria Rilke said this in Letters to a Young Poet:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Living the questions rather than searching for the answers is a paradox – and, as we live the question, “Who Am I?” – the answers arrive.

Come explore the questions with us on Sunday 3rd December from 7pm – 9pm as part of our Mindful Living series as we ask the question: “Why do I feel Lost?”. You can also join us in February for our next Authentic Living series where we will ask many more questions like this – and live them! Contact us for more information.