Word Muse: Don’t chase it, let it come to you.

by Tina Reeble, Education Specialist,
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore
“Happiness is like a butterfly.
The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.
But if you turn your attention to other things,
it comes and sits softly on your shoulder.”
-Henry David Thoreau

 I did a simple subject search at my local library. There are 180 titles listed for Happiness.  Here are just a few; Life’s Little Instruction Book, How to Want What You Have, In Pursuit of Happiness, The Secret to Success and Happiness, Crappy to Happy, The Happiness Prescription, The Art of Happiness and The Happiness Project. So much advise for a state of being that seems to be so elusive and desperately desired by so many. I know I have scanned the pages of a few of those books myself. So what’s up?

I can certainly tell you when I am not happy and in more detail and emotional venting than you would ever want to hear.  Why is it different to describe moments when I am happy? I wondered if I was trying too hard as Thoreau suggests in the poem above. So, with the Beatles classic “Let It Be” as my theme song for the week, I decided to take a breath and see what comes. (Yes, I did just share life lessons from Henry David Thoreau and the Beatles in the same sentence.)

I feel like I have been a bit of a happiness voyeur, looking into everyday moments of unsuspecting souls, searching for signs of happiness this week. I now know that I can say I’m happy seeing happiness in others.

I worked with a group of about 25 children in our Nature Explore Classroom today. They were not in pursuit of happiness. They were happiness. It poured out of them. Happiness is; laughing, talking, running, building, digging, chasing, sketching and collecting.

I asked my two boys (Rory, 7 and Zachary, 9 years of age) about happiness. Their response was immediate as if to say “Aw mom. That’s an easy one!” Rory said, “I’m happy when I’m playing soccer. Happy feels live having fun. That’s actually what happy is.” Zachary added, “Happiness is having fun with friends and pretty much doing what you want to do. It feels joyful.”

Happiness is a new grandma, a purple pen, butterflies and ladybugs, a backyard swing and no place to go, a hug at the end of a long day and a hidden treasure buried deep in a pocket.

Today I am looking at you.  What will I see?  Tell me.  Happiness is…

Our next word is Natural Heritage. 

Be bold, choose to be extraordinary and I will see you next week.