The early morning sun warmed up my skin at the same time crisp spring air cooled it down. “Slow down,” I thought. “You’re not in a hurry.”
A black Ford F-150 with monster truck tires, death-black windows, and what appeared to be 6 Flags roller coaster tracks for a front bumper crowded my sidewalk. “Whatever makes you happy,” I chuckled to myself.
“Wait a minute. Whatever makes you happy?” I pondered. I don’t think that’s how it works. What if things, people, places, and experiences (external stuff) weren’t what made us happy at all? What if happiness was more like a natural warm spring in the center of our chest. Steadily bubbling. No matter what’s going on around you? Just a constantly flowing, internal source of warmth and renewal?
Imagine for a moment that you’re deep in the forest. You’re all alone (and you feel perfectly safe). You’re standing next to a natural warm spring bubbling to the surface. Once it reaches the surface, it cascades down a gently stair-stepping rocky ledge into a pool surrounded by ferns and lush vegetation. You’re just standing there. You’re still. Listening to all the sounds around you. Observing. Enjoying.
Then imagine a large helicopter abruptly comes out of nowhere and flies right over your head. Startled, you hear it turning around and coming back towards you. It flies over your head another time. Slower this time, but closer to the trees. It turns around one more time, but this time it approaches you very slowly. It stops and hovers directly overhead. Promptly another helicopter arrives. Then several more. All of them now are hovering closely together overhead. Soon one lands in a small clearing just big enough for one helicopter only 30-50 yards away. It’s huge! One of those twin-engined, dual-rotor, military-style helicopters. A bunch of people pile out and rapidly unload an incredible amount of gear. Each helicopter waits its turn to land so it too can offload gear and people. In no time at all, it feels like you’re surrounded by hundreds of people. They’re yelling orders at each other, talking on radios, running loud machinery, and the sound of one or more helicopters always seems close by. It’s fascinating! You’re curious. So you watch. Trying to take it all in. You’re trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing. You don’t want to miss anything. They’re building things. Doing stuff. It’s like a beehive of activity. So much is happening. So interesting. So loud.
Hours and days go by. You begin growing weary of the noise and relentless activity, but you’re also convinced you’re about to crack the code and figure what’s actually going on. You’ve just got to see what happens next. It’s just all way too interesting to look away!
And before you know it, without even noticing, gobs of time has passed. You haven’t been paying even the slightest attention to that little natural warm spring right in front of you. It never stopped bubbling. You just stopped noticing.
What if we’re accidentally doing the same thing with happiness? What if we’ve become so mesmerized by our buzzy, disruptive external worlds that we’ve stopped noticing? What if this whole time, happiness has been steadily…reliably…(and quietly), bubbling up from the only source it can ever come from? A personal, natural warm spring of happiness inside each and every one of us?