John Worsley

I wouldn’t have participated in Gorge Happiness Month had I not been asked to write about it.  I was too busy, I thought, to fit in another activity.  And that attitude – that gratitudes, acts of kindness, and moments of silence were extra To Do items – turned out to be the first obstacle.  When I realized it was October 2nd and I needed to start doing this, I felt resentful.  Why had I made more work for myself?  But the three daily actions represent values that were already important to me, and I recognized that the ultimate goal was for them to flow out of me like water from a spring.

So I let the resentment pass and got started.  Now, I could’ve cheated on the gratitudes.  Each night, as I lay down in bed, I express silent gratitude: for a set list of things including my family and dogs, the fact that I get to write for a living, etc.  I also look for at least one new thing from that day to be grateful for.  I could have counted that as my gratitudes for GHM.  But that wasn’t the point; the point was to increase my level of gratitude.  So I started paying attention throughout my day for things I was grateful for, and that turned out to be easy.

Acts of kindness and moments of silence were harder.  Kindness is already important to me, but somehow in this context I found myself thinking, “What, am I supposed to go out of my way to think of something to do for someone that I otherwise wouldn’t do – geez what a lot of work!”  And the silence – I was supposed to stop everything else to be quiet and still for five minutes (so long? my jaw dropped when I read that)… I just didn’t find myself noticing when I could do it.

As I struggled with these challenges and began to make progress, I found myself pondering that ultimate goal, a state in which these actions did not require thought and effort.  And it occurred to me that what I really wanted was a spirit of kindness, a spirit of gratitude, and a spirit of… call it stillness.  As desirable as it would be to have actions become second nature, an action is inherently limited; it only takes one form, or applies in one situation.  A spirit, on the other hand, is infinitely flexible, manifesting however is appropriate to the moment.

I can imagine what a spirit of kindness or gratitude might be like.  But a spirit of stillness?  See, I‘m always productive, and never really relax.  And my head is a noisy place.  There’s a chorus of voices, and almost always a song playing.  In short, I have a busy, noisy spirit.  So this question, “what would it mean to have a spirit of stillness?”, seems a vital one for me.

Participating in Gorge Happiness Month didn’t make me happier, but it put me on the right road.