I have spent some time lately thinking about what really makes me happy. When I was younger, I used to think having a mom who wasn’t an alcoholic would have made me happy. But now that I am older, I see that she was really a master teacher in my life who taught me the value of love. Had she been standing around loving me, perhaps I would not have learned to love myself.

As I got older, I thought getting married would make me happy. I did that a couple of times. I didn’t have the skills I now have. It didn’t make me happy.

I then spent 14 years in women’s movement thinking if I had equality, I would be happy. After the insurance companies defeated the E.R.A., I decided to give equality to myself and in that same instant; I began to have an inkling of an understanding that nothing and no one “out there” has the ability to make me happy “in here.”

So, I started a spiritual quest. I studied every religion, every teaching and theory I could find, and although each one had a grain or more of the truth, not one made me happy.

I have had ecstatic moments -the kind that astound you. They arrived in the center of an “I love you,” in the center of an orgasm arising out of that love, in the center of an undeniable truth and in the center of every authentic moment. In every case, the ecstasy came from connection. Connection creates happiness.

Happiness comes from connection; connection to oneself and every feeling and thought that you have, connection to every other human being, and finally, connection to the universe or some sense of Spirit, whatever you might believe that to be. It’s about being authentically present to your own life. It’s about accepting the abundance of information and growth available in this lifetime, on this journey. It’s about a willingness to let go of needing any end destination, and instead, simply falling in love with the journey.

Plato once said, “Of all the things which we have, next to the gods, our souls are the most divine and most truly ours.” Here we sit with the most fascinating, joyous, incredible opportunity to push our souls forward and get enlightened and the only prerequisite is that we get connected. Out of the center of that connection comes everything we will ever need to know about ourselves including what we feel and believe, what we fear and avoid, what we are addicted to, what we dream about, what we are here for, our purpose and destiny. It’s an awe-inspiring array of opportunities.

Happiness comes from the little things like taking a moment or two in the car to turn the radio off and listen to your own thoughts. It comes when you stop to feel gratitude and appreciation for the fact that you are taking that next breath, seeing that beautiful sunset or have someone precious sitting across from you. It comes from slowing down and realizing there are other people in your world who care about you. Happiness comes from opening the door to the unfamiliar or new and ecstatic experiences. It comes from realizing that right here, right now, you are still alive and all the choices are still yours. You get to decide what the quality of your own life will be.

Happiness comes from inspiring, liberating, teaching and nurturing others. It comes from giving in some way, without expectation or return. It comes from anonymous acts of kindness and sudden acts of bravery and courage. Happiness comes from living a life with meaning and purpose.

Happiness is about being nude in the rain, barefoot on soft green grass and emotional vulnerable with someone you love.

Clearly, happiness is an inside job. The more closed you remain, the less happiness you will have. In order to experience happiness, you must be willing to take a deep breath and take an abandoned jump into life as if it’s all there is. After all, it is.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013
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