Uplift is honoured to lead mindful positive change in individuals as well as organizations. It becomes even more an honour to do this work when we get to experience our clients using the ancient wisdom and transformational tools we teach in their own lives.
One of our clients, Kelli Davy from , in Ottawa, Canada, wanted to write about her work on self-mastery and professional development; this exercise led to a speech on Happiness for a recent Toastmasters meeting. Of course, we weren’t surprised that the account was written from the soul, both heartwarming and inspirational. Kelli is just one of the clients at Uplift who is transforming her life in beautiful, positive, and uplifting ways. The Uplift journey may not be an easy one but as Kelli can attest to, it’s worth it in the end.
It’s incredible to see people like Kelli leading the way with courage and wisdom, not only in her life but in her relationships and in her work at Halogen Software.
Thank you, Kelli for sharing your wisdom and light. Continue to Shine.
Here’s an adapted version of her speech from August 30th, 2013:
I imagine we all find ourselves in that state of affairs from time to time. I tell you this only as the starting point for the journey that led me to speak to you today about happiness.
It’s a soft, squishy topic, and it might not be one that you would choose to speak on, and that’s just fine. But I’m going to go ahead and go for it, kind of like I did in the sixth grade, when I stood up in front of my class and gave a speech on Responsibility (it’s a big word, isn’t it?). Probably needless to say, I didn’t win that particular speaking competition, in part I suspect, because it was voted on by my peers and not my teachers. Hopefully I’ll have better luck this time around.
I’m going to start with some background on the topic, then I’m going to share a little bit about some things I’ve learned on my journey, and finally wrap up with some tools that you might be able to use in your own life, if you are so inspired.
Merriam Webster defines happiness as a state of
well-being and contentment; joy.
Let me ask you:
Do you always recognize when you’re happy? Do you take the time to relish it when it occurs?
There’s a lot of rhetoric around the concept of “stopping to smell the roses”. We’ve all heard it, right? But who has time for all that? And what does it mean beyond wasting some of your precious time in front of your neighbor’s garden?
Here’s another word you can use for that tired phrase: mindfulness.
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose; in the present moment, and without judgement.
Let’s try something.
What do you feel, I mean physically feel, when you’re happy? I imagine most of us don’t really think about that too much. We just know when we’re happy, right?
I’d like to invite you to try something else, if you’re so inclined. The next time you’re happy, just take a moment and observe what it feels like. That’s mindfulness. It’s also stopping to smell the roses. And I happen to think that if you know what it feels like to be happy, you’re more likely to notice it when it occurs.
I was paraphrasing Goethe a moment ago, when I was talking about daily vexations.
“A state of affairs which leads to daily vexation is not the right state.” – Goethe
Reading that quote was kind of a “Duh” moment for me. And for some reason, it’s stuck with me ever since.
Of course it’s not the right state of affairs.
But what can you do about that when it occurs? How much control to do you really have over those daily vexations? Probably not a lot. Sometimes none at all.
But what you can control are your responses to them.
So if we take that a step further, does that mean we can just choose to be happy in spite of the daily vexations? It turns out it can be just that simple.
That sixth grade teacher I mentioned earlier had a saying that I HATED. We all did. And he said it all the time.
It’s your choice.
Now maybe I’m a slow learner, but I’ve finally figured out that Mr. Fosnick was right. It is always my choice.
Realizing the truth in this simple statement is really quite liberating. It takes the power away from those daily vexations, and gives it back to me. It’s my choice to be happy.
So what have I learned on my journey thus far about being happy?
I’ve learned that I’m happier when I take the time to surround myself with the things that make me feel good. When I take the time to celebrate milestones, or at least acknowledge them before I move on to the next big thing.
I’m happier when I occasionally just stop and breathe. When I stop to notice the beauty around me. And I’m happier when I when I stop to notice the good things that are happening around me.
Its my choice to be mindful. And its my choice to be happy.
Simple, right? Well, not so fast.
For one thing, you have to learn how to stop.
And for someone like me: driven, task oriented, loves her to do lists, this is no easy feat. And you might have noticed that I’m probably not the warmest, fuzziest person in this room.
So how does someone like me learn how to be mindful?
Well, it’s not easy. And it takes practice.
It might surprise you to know that I meditate. I don’t spend a lot of time doing it, but I do it regularly. I practice traditional meditation. And I practice something called Yoga Nidra. Both of these things allow me to practice being mindful. And I find that the more that I practice the easier it is for me to apply mindfulness to my everyday life.
I keep a gratitude journal. Every morning, I take the time to write three to four bullet points about things that I’m grateful for over the last 24 hours. On days that aren’t going quite the way I’d like, I write more bullet points. And I find that sometimes it changes my perspective just enough.
It turns out that being grateful and being happy are very closely related.
I also read a lot. I follow some authors and practitioners online and I read books and articles that remind me to be mindful and give me new and different ideas about ways I can practice.
So have I achieved supreme happiness? Am I happy all the time? Heck no!
Am I happier than I used to be? I think so. Or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing more happiness in my life. Either way, I think the people around me would concur. But I work at it. I practice. A lot.
And there are days that I know I need to practice more. There are days when I feel like a complete fraud because I’m not walking this talk. Eventually though, I realize that I’m not practicing one of the basic tenants of mindfulness: without judgement. After all, calling yourself a fraud is pretty judgemental.
And I’m motivated to continue, or maybe start again, because I have seen more happiness in my life.
To err is human. I’m going to fall down. The most important thing is that I get back up with grace. In many regards I’m still at the beginning of this journey.
There are a lot more tools and ideas out there than I’ve talked about today, and I will try more of them over time. But meditation, journaling, and reading have been a great starting point for me. Maybe they can be for you, too.
It’s my choice to be happy. Thanks Mr. Fosnick!