Here is a story, adapted from one, given to a friend of mine, by Marci Shimoff, her friend in the USA.
The story is about a poor man, who is so overwhelmed by problems, he is very unhappy. We all know someone like that, eh?
So, he goes to visit the Shaman: the tribal Medicine man.
“What is it that ails you?” the Shaman asks.
“Oh wise man… so many things are making me unhappy. My wife is disobedient – she doesn’t understand me and she refuses to service my needs.
My children don’t respect me and refuse to do as I ask. My chickens no longer lay eggs for me, and my goat won’t let me milk her. Oh, wise man, what can I do?”
After listening to the miserable man, pouring out all of his troubles, the Shaman – a very spiritual and wise leader – sits thinking quietly for a moment.
He looks thoughtfully at the man.
To his surprise, instead of giving the man advice, a spell, or even, prescribing a herbal concoction, he asks a question.
“When… did you stop singing?”
This astonishes the unhappy man. He is expecting a much different response.
But before the man can answer, the Shaman continues, “When… did you stop dancing?”
Again, the man is taken aback by the question. This is not what he came for.
And again, before he can reply, the Shaman asks, “When did you stop sharing stories?”
“I - er – that is – I can’t remember.”
The Shaman dismisses his reply and after a long silence, asks, “When did you stop making time for silence?”
The man looks very uncomfortable.
The Shaman continues, “When did you show some kindness to someone else?”
A smile breaks out on the face of the troubled man. He bows low and backs away.
The Shaman holds his gaze and says: “Go! Sing! Dance! Tell stories and enjoy a little silence and you will discover joy! Look outward and extend a hand to others in need and you will find real happiness.”
This anecdote illustrates cumulative wisdom, across many different cultures and philosophies. They all conclude that these elements are essential for healing and happiness.
Though we often think of singing, as an expression of being happy; if we’ve lost our sense of joy, singing a song can help us recover our inner peace and wellbeing and make us happy.
Moving (dance, sports, exercise)
The same is also true of dance and movement. Moving our bodies, however it is done, releases serotonin in our brain, causing the infusion of mood enhancing endorphins into our bloodstream.
Watch a small child skipping, when they are happy. It’s great when girls skip, but wonderful, when boys do it too.
Storytelling (sharing stories with others)
As a storyteller, I’ve certainly seen the huge value of storytelling — sharing tales with friends and telling family stories in a way that nourishes our souls. Just listening to the stories of others, especially elderly people, allows them an opportunity to validate their life with their story.
And silence – Finding inner peace in a period of silence (staying in touch with the universe) — something that’s becoming harder to find in our modern culture. It is one of the most important contributors to your level of happiness.
Who knows how to meditate – to sit quietly and just be? Take a few minutes, each day, to sit and meditate quietly. Empty your mind of thoughts and concentrate on your breathing, and forget about all the stresses and negative thoughts that assail you.
Caring and doing something for others – the fifth essential ingredient for happiness: showing someone a little kindness. Well, you’re all carers and will know what pleasure it gives, to share a piece of your self with others.
Think about your life for a moment. Are you struggling with anxiety and worry – over the economic situation? Are you immersed in your personal problems? Carrying grudges and hate in your mind? Do you feel alone or isolated? Rushed and overwhelmed? Or – are you just feeling blue occasionally?
The next time you find yourself feeling blue and unhappy; remember the Shaman’s questions, and add a bit more singing, dancing, sharing, and silence into your daily routine. Find a way to do something for someone else. I guarantee, you’ll find they’re powerful medicine for your happiness!
Learn to acknowledge your happy moments. In time you will find there are more happy moments than sad ones. Write your happiness into your Happy book each day.