I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I have pondered this question and also heard it from clients (so at least I am not alone). It is the eternal quest of humanity. What is that enables us to feel happy or satisfied; that lets us know we perhaps are on the right path or living a life worth-while?
There must be as many answers as the stars, and yet surely, we should be able to distill it into one simple construct? If only.
There are so many aspects to our lives; relationships, earning enough money to support ourselves/families and create the lifestyle we desire, developing and keeping satisfying friendships, learning and inner growth, health, exploration and discovery, having fun- the list goes on. And yet out of all of these when is it that we feel at our best, most in touch we who we are, happiest, and feeling as though in that moment at least, we are living life fully?
Well I can’t possible begin to answer for anyone else, but for me, it seems to be when I am entirely engrossed in something, this is when I can feel connected- whether that is spending time with someone else, be that friends, colleagues, family or clients, or an activity such as walking, cooking or photography. It is when I am taken up by what I am doing or experiencing. That isn’t to say that these moments are always pleasurable- I can also be engulfed in moments of anguish or sadness or anger; but at least I am know I am very alive at those times. Acknowledging the feelings and senses gives me the opportunity to connect myself with whatever it is that is making up my life at that moment. Learning to not identify with the emotions is another task entirely.
It is often when I am simply sitting around the kitchen table putting the world to rights with a friend or watching the sunset whilst I walk my dog that I feel happiest. Connected somehow. Nothing revolutionary in fact. Yet I feel content in that precise moment, as if that is enough. Currently I am on a photography course and chosen a project of trees as I love the winter silhouettes. I have taken endless photos of old oaks, poplars and elders around the fields where I live as the sun is setting. It never ceases to inspire me and fill me with a sense of awe when we get a particularly beautiful sky. And during those walks I forget all time and “To Do” Lists; the dog gets fed up and cold because I’m no longer focused on him and have kept him hanging about in some muddy field for far too long (he’s only tiny and gets cold quite quickly, bless him). When I reluctantly let go of my engagement with the sky and trees to make my way home and make it up to the dog by giving him fuss and treats I feel enriched, as though somehow, I perhaps joined with, in some quantum physics/spiritual kind of way, or at least witnessed, something wonderful. Sadly, the feeling doesn’t stay with me forever, but at least for that moment I connected and felt alive. Is this what life is about? Who knows, but it is my quest.