Our homemade rain gauge is a glass goblet and it recently indicated nearly 2 inches in 24 hours! It’s a good thing I know where I keep my set of webbed feet. Then again, since I am a northwest native they are never very far away.
Generally speaking, I take a lot of pleasure in knowing where all my stuff is, and I gather from many clients that this would make them happy, too. So this month I’d like to explore the connection between what people say they want, and what they actually do.
Sound scary? It might be. Just a little bit.
The connection really isn’t that complicated. It starts right here where you are standing at this very moment, both in time and in space. Let’s say you say you want to settle on a good place to store those rain boots and other foul weather gear. It would be so nice to look out the window, and easily grab them, even just for a quick run to the mailbox.
What may happen instead is a 30 minute hunt, requiring a full excavation of the closet or worse – a journey to the basement to see where they were last kicked off. If the stated desire is easy access to gear, then some things have to change. Not just in how they are stored, but in how you think about them, and possibly even in your behavior when you use them.
Oh no, I can hear it now. But there is no room, I don’t want them with my street shoes, and besides I like to kick them down the stairs after pulling them off.
What we have here is a three pronged problem:
- Environment: What has to shift to improve function or ambiance?
- Attitude: What must be faced and adjusted in order to support change?
- Behavior: Which habits serve you and which get in the way of what you say you want?
For this particular example it might look like this:
- Clear out the bottom of the closet in order to store ONLY footwear.
- Let go of the idea that you can never maintain a system.
- Stop tossing your shopping bags and stray things from the car into the closet.
These kinds of reality checks can lead to increased functionality in your home, but there is much more at stake. Pleasure and satisfaction with your environment is one of the keystones to overall well-being. Along with getting enough sleep, eating well, and doing some sort of movement with your body, your space is part of overall happiness.
Now there is a word worth examining.
Happiness has been the subject of many books and is considered to be more than a goal; it is a seen by some to be a human right. This is something I find strange. It’s like demanding sunshine all the time. Or daylight.
Each of these things are a point on a scale, each one depends on the existence of something else. Happiness & sorrow, sunshine & clouds, day & night.
If you’ll bear with me a moment, by looking at the origin of the word “happy” and a few related words we might discover something else about it.
- Hap, the archaic root of the word, the meaning of which is luck or fortune.
- Happenstance refers to coincidence or circumstance.
- Happening is defined as an event or something that is in action.
All of these point to a situation, an external, objectively measurable condition, not an emotional state. People think of happiness as a feeling, or state of mind, which can be attained and kept as long as possible. Many people think it needs to be the baseline of all experience.
When I look again at the other uses of the word I see references to the outside experience of what is happening in the moment, to luck of any kind (good or bad) , and to circumstances of many sorts and situations as they are.
I wonder if happiness could be seen as a measure of how I deal with what is right here in front of me, no matter what it is. This makes more sense to me than expecting to live in a stable, predictable condition that must be always positive.
I recently had the great pleasure of working as a team with Tamra Fleming who works with couples in their spaces to create a supportive environment and enhance their relationships. It was a powerful example of people stepping up to what is real in their lives in order to shape the future.
The state of the closets and cupboards were just features of an emotional landscape. It took courage and commitment to create a realistic shared vision and a series of forward steps toward happiness.
I got to watch this couple face the three pronged problem of environment, attitude and behavior with the skilled and compassionate coaching that Tamra offers. I have a feeling that if happiness is a reflection of how you deal with whatever is, they are well on the road.