Over at the bubbling blog of author Gretchen Rubin, everyone has access to the record of all the research that has gone into her most recent book. This was just about the most publicly interactive bit of research I've ever seen. One day, I hope to follow in her footsteps and do the same sort of research, interviewing people, finding a hypothesis and testing it myself, looking up the science and the art of the thing ... this was really cool to watch as it unfolded. Her "One Minute Movies" are poignantly beautiful - and I love her list of Happiness Myths.
No. 1: Happy people are annoying and stupid. This is an automatic assumption that many people make.
No. 3: Venting anger relieves it.
No. 5: A “treat” will cheer you up.
No. 6: Money can’t buy happiness.
No. 7: Doing “random acts of kindness” brings happiness. The emphasis here is on the word "random."
No. 8: You’ll be happy as soon as you… Falling into the "arrival fallacy" is something that many people (including me) recognize in themselves.I've already figured out that it's better to be a stable person than to live in a stable world.
So ... is it breakfast? It would be hard to find a habit more thoroughly documented as healthy. Everyone from WebMD to Mireille Guiliano will confirm that breakfast is essential to a good day.
Is it Morning Prayer? Some form of spiritual orientation in the upcoming day seems essential to mental and emotional health. I once asked my naturopathic doctor how on earth she manages to get through her day. All those people with all those needs - how does she stay clear from their energies? Their burdens? Meditation, she said. Every day she starts with quiet, and reminds herself of her place in the world.
For a long time, I was a bit soured on this concept - it was the "devotions" of the evangelicals that did it to me. I could no longer stand the either the highly emotional and ultimately draining experiences of the "good" days nor the blank and confusing lack of response I felt on the "bad" days. I kept looking for the right reactions - the right responses from inside my soul. Ick.
But ordinary Anglican Morning Prayer is not that sort of exercise. This equates much more closely to the meditation my doctor was doing. This is a first-of-the-day orientation within my life. Under heaven, among men, grounded in my own life. This is the daily playing of scales and practicing of arpeggios a musician does, and the spiritual equivalent of housekeeping. And it makes an enormous difference. ... So ... is that it? Is that the key to the day? (That's me in the blue dress - that's my piano behind me.)
Or ... maybe it's Julie Cameron's "morning pages" that makes the whole thing work. Lately they've been helping me ... and I wonder if they'd help more if I did these pages ... well ... you know ... in the morning. Oh, well. They work any time of the day for me. It's the writing thing I need, like I need water and air and movement and peace. For me, it's not "gotta dance," it's "gotta dash" - as in, dash off some words, scrawl, scribble, write, forge, frame, knock out, bang out, dream up, and pen. Gotta write.
The sun is all the way up now - above the fir trees on the sunrise side of the field. The day has begun. One thing's for sure. If I don't stop observing the day and start living it, it will have passed and no matter how well a day starts we never get a do over. I think I'll go make a protein smoothie and get my prayers said.