It is an incredible discovery when we realize that fun, joy, happiness and beauty are not simply enjoyable experiences but valuable sources of energy as well. They increase our energy when we activate them. We should increase our intake of these activities as much as possible, many times every day. Learning how to be creative and attentive and making fun, joy and beauty a priority in our life is easy once we realize their importance. There are many ways we can bring fun, joy and beauty into our lives and most of them don’t cost a cent. It’s simply attuning ourselves to what is already happening in our lives and harvesting fun, joy and happiness as a daily practice.
In 2002 I wrote a book called The Practice of Happiness. I can’t tell you the number times in media interviews that I had to correct an interviewer when they confused the words pursuit and practice. They would usually start out with a statement like, “In your book the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’…” and I would correct them: “It’s not the pursuit of happiness. It’s the practice of happiness.” This Freudian slip happened time and time again even though they had the title right in front of them. We are so indoctrinated to pursue things in order to achieve them that it is hard, at first, to understand the concept of practice rather than pursuit. But that is the whole point of my book: you don’t pursue happiness, you practice it daily, and discover it many times in your day-to-day activities. When you do this an extraordinary thing happens — you discover your happiness.
Fun, joy and beauty have never truly been recognized as energy sources before. Nobody thinks of them this way, and so they have not been utilized as uplifting sources of energy. They have been neglected and misunderstood. Fun increases our flow and intake of energy, and when our energy is at a high level we function better. Think about it. How do you “feel” when you’re having fun? This in itself should teach us an important lesson. Fun, pleasure and having a good time are not frivolous activities, but forgotten sources of energy. When you think about it in these terms you suddenly realize how negligent we are in accessing this energy. In my book The Practice of Happiness, I emphasized the importance of fun and joy:
Having fun daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes, is a life-affirming practice. It’s also a powerful symbol to our subconscious. It is saying I am worthy. Life is good. Even small amounts of fun every day can have a profound effect. We must be diligent in taking time to nourish ourselves. If, no matter how busy we are, we still have the wisdom to take time for ourselves, we will be well compensated. Don’t be fooled by pressures and responsibilities; they will wait for you. We set the agenda for our life, and in our agenda there must always be time for fun.
Harvesting moments of fun, joy and beauty
When we truly understand how energy works in our lives we take responsibility for our own uplifting by valuing fun, joy and beauty as a means of replenishing our energetic system. Suddenly it dawns on us we need not wait for life to please us or change in any dramatic way in order for us to be happy. We become proactive in harvesting our own moments of happiness. We harvest joy and beauty by seeing it in simple everyday things that previously we had ignored. We begin actively looking for it in our life, and when we take this on as a daily practice it staggers us that it exists in an abundance we had not expected. How did we not see it before? We wonder. Perhaps because we thought beauty, joy and fun were frivolous or something we needed to pursue or rewards that we didn’t really have time for. Now understanding that they are energy sources we see the value and potential of gathering moments of beauty and joy as a daily practice. We look for what I call “perfect moments or full moments”, moments that are filled with fun, joy or beauty and we harvest these moments each day. We do it the way a farmer harvests a crop. The farmer goes out into the field and gathers his crop. Our field is our life, and we become vigilant in discovering and harvesting fun, joy and beauty and by doing so we become happier and have more energy. This is a task of great value.
When you think about it, it is not surprising that fun, joy, happiness and beauty should be energy sources. Nature wants us to be successful, has wired us to be successful, so it is only natural that it would create energy in these ways to encourage us to have fun, joy and happiness. We are meant to be nurtured by this source.
Let me share with you a perfect, full moment that happened to me a number of years ago. What makes this particular moment so significant is that it was the first time I fully understood how any moment in our lives that is filled with fun, joy or beauty could truly be called perfect and full. I was sitting in the bath. It was a beautiful summer day and Neil Young was playing on my CD player. The window was open and a light breeze was blowing and caressing my exposed skin as I lay in the warm bath water. In the window was a small spider resting in his web as the breeze gently rocked the web back and forth. I looked at the spider and acknowledged it, recognizing that both of us were participating in this same moment together. Then all at once it hit me – this is a perfect moment. It was so full and needed nothing else. All was well in the universe for me and the spider in this moment in time and space, and all the while Neil Young kept singing on. I allowed the moment to engulf me. Perhaps in an hour something will upset me, I thought to myself but right now in this moment of time all is perfectly complete. That moment was so full and complete that it filled me with energy and from that moment on I saw the value of searching for and harvesting other perfect, full moments. I took this on as a daily practice.
Our mistake in life is that we are looking for our whole life to be happy and meaningful. But life is a complex affair and lasts a long time, so trying to make our whole life happy and meaningful becomes a daunting task, overwhelming really. You are sure to be discouraged and overwhelmed by the process. But if we let go of the concept of having a happy, meaningful life and simply take it day by day and harvest moments of beauty, joy, fun and happiness out of the simple everyday occurrences, we find this uplifts us. We call these moments perfect or full moments because they need nothing other than what they are to make us feel complete, and in this context they are perfect. They are full and alive with life. We have many of these moments every day only we don’t notice them, dismissing them as unimportant. However, when it becomes our task to harvest these moments of fun, joy and beauty we take on the challenge and shift our energy by doing so. Doing this we become a choreographer of energy.