I hope your January was amazing and the Chinese year of the monkey is off to a brilliant start.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the fun of sharing quite a few celebrations with friends. We’re in the habit of celebrating the special days from as many cultures as we can and so far we've celebrated Australia Day – January 26, which is also India’s National day, Luna new year – February 8 and Losar, the Tibetan new year on February 9. I’ve had the fun of marching in the Australia Day People’s March with Laughter Clubs Victoria, learning a few new Bollywood steps, tackling some Chinese and Tibetan dance routines, enjoying a range of foods from different cultures and generally having a brilliant time.
One evening last week I had the pleasure of sharing a Power Break mindfulness session with a large community group. After our 50 minute session our conversation turned to happiness, what happiness means to each of us and how we can all have more happiness in our lives. The 45 members of the group come from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and it was interesting to hear the different ideas for happiness.
Ming, a wonderfully energetic 85 year old woman who spent her early life in China shared that to her happiness is knowing that she’s prepared for the afterlife, taking time to honour her ancestors and enjoying every moment she has in this life before she joins them.
Mario, an equally energetic 79 year old from a small village outside Milan said spoiling his grandchildren filled his heart with joy.
Harumi, a quiet 81 year old from Nara in Japan shared that the peace and tranquillity of painting, practicing her calligraphy and creating origami pieces makes her happy as do her daily meditation and tai chi practices.
After everyone had spoken we realised that while we had 45 different ideas for happiness most of them fitted quite easily into just 5 categories.
1 Doing something we love - the ideas here are endless. A few in our group called it ‘being in the zone’, for others it was ‘finding your flow – doing something that you become so totally immersed in that the time just goes.
2 Spending time with people who make you smile. Catching up with family and friends in person is always wonderful but if that isn’t possible talking with them on the phone or connecting with them through some other form of communication is also great. Even thinking about loved ones can often make you feel good.
3 Spending a part of every day moving your body – walking, riding a bike, yoga, tai chi, sport, even putting on some music and dancing. The human body is designed for movement. Move in a way that makes you smile.
4 Doing things for others. This could include helping family or friends, volunteering your time, giving to a charity or practicing simple acts of kindness as you go about your day.
5 Being grateful. Taking a few moments every day to think about things you’re grateful for, and it could be anything. I actually stop every now and say a quiet ‘thankyou’ to some inanimate object that makes my life easier, I always say thank you to those who help me in some way, and if you’ve been to one of my workshops you’ll know that I’m also one to throw my arms in the air and say “YES!” when something goes really well. Recognising things that we appreciate and taking a moment to be grateful, to recognise our gratefulness and actually give it voice through either thought or actual voice has an amazingly powerful impact.
One thing that we all agreed on is that while being happy might make us smile and sometimes laugh, happiness is most often that simple inner feeling of joy and contentment, and that it really is an inside job. All we have to do, from my discussion with the group last week, is practice 5 simple steps.
I hope you find lots of things that make you happy this month.
This month I’m grateful to be practicing what I love, spending time with people who make me smile, moving my body and doing something for others as I share Let’s Laugh Laughter programs as a program presenter at the open days of 6 Lease Retirement Villages. I’ll also be sharing simple ideas for Power Breaks (mindfulness in moments skills), with several corporate and community groups.
I’m also in the final planning stages for my trip to the USA for the annual conference of the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humour, being held in Arizona between April 6 and 10. I’m still to finalise my flights and accommodation so if you’re in the USA and would like to discuss having a Let’s Laugh workshop for your organisation or in your community while I’m there please get in touch.
I wish you a brilliant February.