There is nothing like a trip to another part of the world where you don’t speak the language! Not only do you have to rely on your intuition and read non-verbal signals, you have plenty of time to think and practice surrendering to the moment.
I traveled to Italy to attend an international conference on pain. While my day job looks at the science of pain, I find myself drawn to the developments in the psychological management of pain. In one particular conversation with a vivacious Physical Therapist, I shared my personal “health” philosophy. Although I am in good health, the pain in my life is emotionally driven therefore I must focus on finding happiness. She quickly placed her hand on my arm and said, “Do you mean finding meaningfulness or is it just happiness you seek?”
She went on to explain that she looked at happiness as a close ended question—a yes or a no response. “Does this cappuccino make you happy? Today it is not hot enough or big enough so it is easy to say no, I am not happy. However, sharing this time, these thoughts with you is making me happy. I find this time meaningful which makes me happy and I will carry this moment with me. I’ll forget about the coffee but I will not forget about you.”
I felt an electricity course through me. This was an AH HAH moment! Yes, it is meaningfulness I seek—not just happiness. With meaningfulness, happiness is one component but it also includes love, truth, hope, reason, joy, sorrow, purpose, connection……and so many other rich feelings. Meaningfulness is a spectrum of which happiness is one aspect.
THINGS may or may not make you happy but it is through our experiences we extract meaningfulness.
A wave of contentment washed over me the last two days of my trip. While I live with appreciation and gratitude, my experiences and future experiences continue to shape me. Yes, I could do without many of the decisions I face and the sadness I carry, but in the end, I am richer for it having shed the tears and shared the laughter. I have acted on my dreams while the all too familiar voice of fear and criticism taunted me.
I am a better friend, a better woman because I rest on yesterday while I drink in today.
I seek meaningfulness.