February 10, 2012
Happiness isn’t something you experience. It's something you remember.
I remember the first time that I read this quote, I found it to be humorously clever. But, it quickly struck me that Levant wasn't really only trying to be funny or witty; but rather, he had observed something disturbing about the way that most people live their lives.
The sad truth is that our minds tend to be preoccupied at least as much by what is going wrong in our lives, as what is going right. Too often, the balance is weighted to the negative. Even during otherwise enjoyable moments, we allow little misgivings or worries to leak into our consciousness and deflect us from a full expression or experience of the joy that is ripe for picking.
A very current case in point is Woody Allen's new movie, Midnight In Paris, which examines (through humor, of course) how common it is for each generation to imagine preceding ones with enviable sentimentality. We may truly believe that life was "better" in the 1920s; and those who lived during those times felt similarly about the turn of the century; and those of La Belle Époque idealized the lives of their grandparents, and on and on. Nostalgia is alive and well, even for people who never experienced what it is they think they missed!
But life doesn't need to be that way. We can avoid the trap, more often than not, by practicing gratitude and cultivating awareness within each moment of the present. Not easy to do... but increasingly easier, with practice!