i n e s s... why must we "work" on happiness... Shouldn't we be "playing" on happiness instead? Shouldn't life be like a ride on a swing: shouldn't we be throwing our heads back with wild abandon and glee? So, the question then becomes, why not?
Back a few years ago when I was working with the homeless in Chinatown - Salinas, I was staffing the Day Room in Dorothy's Place Hospitality Center -- until a late afternoon meeting at the City Redevelopment Agency. I worked the day anticipating a "BOO!" moment (this is a fun way to go through your day, everyday: plan for serendipity: the active playfulness of the Holy One)... Anyway, as the story goes, after the meeting "Tom" asked if I wanted a ride back to Dorothy's. I gratefully said yes and took a few steps with him toward his car, and suddenly felt inspired to say, "I changed my mind. I think I'll walk."
Walking past the downtown cinema onto Market Street, heading for the railroad tracks, I came upon Rita -- whom I hadn't seen in the Soup Kitchen for a number of months -- and she was desperate for someone to talk to... I recognized that moment to be the "BOO!" that I had been anticipating all day... and it was triggered by changing my mind... You see, happiness is not only our destiny, but it is also our very nature: we all want to be happy: we all want to live happily: and yet, and yet... (here's the very core of the problem of happiness: we want to be happy: but genuine and lasting happiness is always about the other: we in fact only become happy to the degree that we give our happiness away...)
So to be happy is, first of all, to change our minds! How many negative thoughts fill our minds? Whew! To change is to start -- right now -- chucking them out (but don't toss that negativity towards anyone -- no one needs to collect any more)... Begin to replace the disappearing negativity with positive affirmations and constructive actions... Build everyday your home of happiness: cut out the blame, cut out the judgments, cut out the intolerance, cut out the gossip, cut out the temptations to prejudice, anger, injustice, and violence... Practice beauty instead: be gentle, be kind, be just in all your business dealings, be a volunteer, be a walker, be a companion... Do something unexpected: like flying a kite, painting a run-down house (for free), create something and give it away, smile often, look for the good and know that you will find it, sing when the sky is overcast: become a rainbow bridging the unhappiness of the folks around you with the certainty of their own possibilities: live as a "possibilitarian" and happiness will sneak up on you everyday with one "BOO!" after another!
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.