”Happiness – a big word, perhaps too heavy, too often used by many but whose content is too rarely felt, lived. Happiness is like the essences of expensive perfumes. It’s rare, it comes in small spurts, like the dew grains you see at high altitudes, where you don’t often go.
Maybe it’s okay. Maybe if it was everywhere, it would overwhelm us, we’d be walking backwards more and more. It would be a great pity to walk like that, who would see the stars and the sun and the moon, with all its colours and phases? Who would see the planes in the sky and long for new lands, for flight?
As for me, there have been, perhaps still are, times when I have felt that happiness has passed me by. Perhaps I was in one of those periods when I had the feeling that I was invisible, that others passed me by as if I were not. So happiness didn’t see me either, it passed by like a shadow left by the moon. Who would take notice, who would pay attention?
But those were the sadder, unfair moments, when the tinted glasses screened the space between me and the world, when everything seemed painted in many shades of dark grey and black.
To be fair to myself and to this life, I’ve actually experienced moments of happiness. There were and are many. We all have them, we just don’t always see them as such. They are like the candle lit in the dark: something small but of such great importance!
Here are some of my little moments of happiness:
I read an article and it moves me to tears, it inspires me (as happened recently when I read a text by Ioana Baldea Constantinescu);
I order something random from the menu at a cafe and get a selection of pistachios, toasted almonds, dates with pecans, my favourite, cashews, cherries – a delight; and I think how nice it is to be surprised, every now and then (I recently experienced it on my 3-day holiday this summer);
Someone dear to me, who I haven’t spoken to in a long time, writes; sends me some pictures of Audrey Hepburn found in a bar in Milan and says she thought of me when she saw it;
I hear Fly me to the moon in a bar and remember a moment when a part of my life changed while humming this exact song;
I arrive in Paris, I’m on the street and I’m in tears of emotion. I don’t cry very often anymore but it’s where I get really emotional. It’s as if I’ve been walking for many lifetimes and I’ve arrived in that place that in my imagination means Home.
When a colleague’s little girl tells me she loves me or that she’s had her dose of … (my name) after a few hours together;
When, after having my leg in a cast, I was able to walk alone, to wash up. You don’t realize what you have, many times, until you don’t have that thing anymore. When you can’t manage on your own for a while, you realize how happy you must have been before. Jeanette Winterson says it best at the beginning of her novel, Written on the Body: ‘The measure of love is the loss of it.’
Should moments of happiness have a large dose of nostalgia? Partially, I’d say; there were times when I told myself that if it were all to end then, I’d know I was happy. I won’t go into detail, it would be too personal.
Here are some moments that bring me happiness on a regular basis:
When I wake up on weekend mornings and have a few hours just to read, drink coffee, at my own pace, without any pressure;
When I go to the airport to see the planes. I have this habit. When I am nostalgic, I go to Otopeni and watch the planes. Then I get an otherworldly feeling. Ah, I forgot to say that I feel really good on the plane, that the thought of going away excites me.
I also have examples from work:
When a client I did executive coaching with told me, after a week at a major business school in the world, that he knew from me almost everything that was discussed there;
When someone says they resonate with what I’ve written;
When another client told me that our executive coaching sessions helped him to be not only a better leader but also a better father and husband. I’m really impressed, I cringe, I don’t really know how to show how much feedback like that means to me.
When someone else says that when they grow up, they want to be like me.
Maybe happiness is about being healthy and having a short memory, as Audrey Hepburn used to say. Or maybe it’s about having something to do, someone to love and something to hope for, as the saying goes. Or, as a character in the movie “La Passion” says, happiness is about continuing to want what you already have.
Or maybe happiness is seeing two young people holding hands and breathing love. Or the look on someone’s face as they pet their dog or cat. Or walking through the rain, smelling the scent of linden blossoms, skydiving, shooting your first bow and arrow and hitting the bull’s eye, jumping on the trampoline like a five-year-old and not stopping laughing. Or maybe all of these and more.
What does it mean to you?”