Recently a questionnaire went out to the countries of the world and their inhabitants. It was called the World Happiness Report and it measures a general “subjective well being” through the posing of a simple question. It asks: “Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”
The average result serves as the result for each country – ranging from Norway’s 7.54 to the Central African Republic’s 2.69. But the report also tries to analyze statistics to explain why one country is happier than another. Factors include social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption. What if we hold and contemplate these as metrics for our individual lives—to better assess our present happiness?
In our meditation classes at Sunrise, before we begin the actual “sit,” we often start by tuning into a representation or idea of happiness and then imagine it permeating our entire being. This visualization starts by imagining the beginnings of a smile arriving on the face. Not a smile, per se, but the feeling just prior –the feeling of contentment, of joy…of happiness just before we smile. So, as you sit reading this, draw upon a memory—a baby, a puppy, something that recently made you erupt in laughter and feel it welling in you, feel it coming into the muscles and bones of your face. Hold that and breathe.
Happiness is a choice rooted in how we are disposed to interpret life and not by our present circumstances or our perceptions of them. This isn’t a new concept but, nevertheless, it is often profoundly challenging to accept the fact we choose our reaction to each moment and are thus empowered to define our reality. If we decide to Trust The Process entirely, we have no other choice but to do just that and trusting the process has nothing to do with a specific outcome—it is simply trust that Everything is Working Out Perfectly.
Michael Schroeder, Lead Counselor, MA, LMFT
Michael received undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Printmaking from the University of California Santa Cruz. He then studied graphic and furniture design at Parsons School of Design in NYC and trained as a Yoga Instructor at New York’s Integral Yoga. For many years, Michael worked as a fine artist with gallery representation in New York City and Santa Fe. Art led him back to psychology, and he received his Master’s Degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute, graduating summa cum laude. Michael has strived to maintain the connection between art and psychology in his career and personal life. He is a licensed psychotherapist (LMFT) in California and New Mexico and has worked extensively with couples and kids.