This is the time of year when we wish people “Happy” or a variation on the theme, “Merry.” Happy Holidays. Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.
The other night my husband and I were watching one of the Harry Potter movies in which Harry was teaching his classmates how to create a Patronus Charm—a defensive spell that wards off evil. In order to create a Patronus Charm, you must be able to access a deeply happy memory. This is akin to Peter Pan in which, in order to fly, he must be able to think a “happy thought.” Midway through Harry’s teaching my husband turned to me and asked, “What would your happy thought be? It has to be something so happy it pushes everything else out.” He looked at me expectantly, as my life flashed before my eyes.
I looked through my memories and shared with my husband a special moment with my mom. But knowing my mom had died and that there was sadness mixed in, my husband said, “You have to find a happy moment that doesn’t depend on anyone else.” I looked backwards some more and found a lot of great moments, but I still didn’t feel a happy big enough to create a magical charm. This sent me on a deep inner inquiry to find Happy.
Now please don’t get me wrong. I am content, educated, hard working, reasonably healthy, surrounded by beauty, have a great family, husband and friends. I do what I love for a living, in service making a difference, financially stable, and deeply spiritual. But when I tried to access a happy thought so big that it pushed out the loss of my mom and both my brothers, my impending grief with a dad on hospice, mental health of loved ones that seems irreparable, concern over our government, stress of running multiple businesses—the list of difficulties seemed to overshadow any happy hiding in there. It was an awkward and awakening moment. I have every reason to be happy so any lack there of must be a lack of awareness of my happiness, not a lack of happiness.
A “which came first chicken or egg scenario” occurred to me. Do I need a happy thought to create a Patronus Charm, or do I need the magical spell to clear away the obstacles blocking my view of happy thoughts? On a more real-life level, how do I justifiably wish you “Happy Holidays” unless I am tapped into my own happy. I can’t reasonably give you that which I do not have.
So for the next several days, I looked for happy both past and present. I foraged through my day and found it mostly filled with “to do.” So, I stopped and meditated, and while I’m not sure I tapped into “happy," I did find peaceful. As I searched, I found accomplished. I found satisfying. I found love. I found appreciation. These all felt like the ingredients to happy, but weren’t exactly the same thing. So I kept looking. Then, rather than looking for the moment that would create the magic, I started looking for the magic that created the moment. These are what I call moments of proof.
That is when it happened, when I stepped back to look at the miracle of the simple things I have taken for granted. I found happy while listening to a dear friend play her guitar and sing to an intimate group of friends. I saw magic in the creation of the instrument, the writing of the song, the control of the heartfelt voice. I found happy in the magic of nature—the moon and stars, the river, flowers and fruit appearing in my yard. I found deep joy when my cat, an animal, curled up in my lap purring lovingly. I found happy when I became present enough to really appreciate what was happening.
Ironically, last year while at a beautiful wedding in Israel, I was asked to bless the couple with happiness using seven words. After playing with hundreds of combinations, I finally found, “Don’t seek happiness anywhere, create happiness everywhere.” My personal happiness inquiry revealed that we create happiness everywhere when we stop looking for happy to create the magic, and instead look for the magic that creates the happy. That magic is everywhere. So rather than wishing you “Happy Holy-days” I wish you the vision of the Holy through which to see your days.