I’m guilty of saying it.
“The lake is my happy place!”
And really, I mean any beach shore, near any body of water, but especially the park where I walk every morning and my special spot on top of the Bluffs.
Now, it’s true. I have had many, many happy times at the Bluffs where my heart feels aligned with my spirit, and I am alive with gratitude and inspiration!
And I have felt happy frolicking with my late-pup Penny by the shore, seeing her ears flop in the wind as she playfully tapped me with her paws while we ran together down the path.
I’ve also felt a deep sense of contentment and happiness during long walks on the beach on lazy Sunday mornings, collecting sea glass with my husband, Jerry.
But I must admit, there have been other times too.
There have been many mornings that I have ruminated on my thoughts of anger or frustration during my entire walk, having to work hard to muster a smile as I passed by other park guests.
And mornings where I had my long to-do list scrolling through my brain, as I walked hunched over, staring at the ground, barely aware of my surroundings.
Of course, there have also been times of sadness too.
I can remember one morning when I headed out at 5 a.m. for a walk after not sleeping all night long. My insomnia was due to the decision I had to make to put Penny down because she was suffering from a rare health condition. I got to the lake shore before sunrise that day, and walked and walked and walked, as I tried unsuccessfully to shake off my grief.
So, after some reflection, it occurred to me that the lake isn’t really my “happy place” after all.
And really, “happy” isn’t a place, is it?
It’s an emotion, that typically comes up for me with thoughts of gratitude, connection, and love.
And with further consideration, I think I can more accurately say, “The lake is my quiet, meditative place …sometimes.”
It’s my peaceful place when I seize the opportunity to be mindful when I am there.
And I’m getting much better at this with time! I can often settle into thoughts of gratitude and intentionally allow the beauty of nature into my awareness.
But I also know that like other people, it would be unnatural for me to be happy all the time.
When life’s circumstances are difficult or painful, I must allow myself the space to feel my emotions and process through them so I can move forward. And I’m getting better at doing this too, with less self-judgement and shame.
Yet still, even though I’m a life coach and have been doing this work for many years, I sometimes still forget that happiness isn’t a place or a circumstance.
It’s a state of mind that begins with a decision of intentional thought.
I wanted to write about this today as we approach the holiday season, because I know the pandemic has made celebrating quite different for most of us this year.
Now more than ever, I’d like to encourage you to allow space for yourself to feel all your emotions with self-love and grace. These are weird times we are living in, and it certainly is understandable if your emotions are all over the map!
And I also want to encourage you to make time for quiet, intentional thought, so you can create more feelings of gratitude, connection, and love. Because no matter what is happening in your life or the world, you always have the power to seek out the light.
Sending you love during this week of Thanksgiving!