Simple Happiness

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

What does happiness look like to you? What does it feel like?

I’ve made no secret of my irritation with the Marie Kondo craze, of going through your house and your life and getting rid of everything you don’t love—and had to spend about four months avoiding my basement altogether after attempting to “Kondo” my home office.

But something in her theory has wiggled its way into my brain and refused to leave, I think, because lately I’ve taken the “what do you love” idea and reimagined it as happiness. Meaning, what brings me joy? What makes my heart happy? What brings me peace?

There are a few things that have emerged, urgently. And they kind of took me by surprise, in their simplicity- and perhaps, to you, their silliness.  The color yellow, for one. It’s my favorite color.  And yet when I looked around my house and life I noticed a lack of yellow.  So now I have a new yellow purse and a new yellow throw rug for my sunroom and a gaggle of sunflowers sprinkled throughout the house. Yellow makes me very very happy. Also, plants and flowers.  Spring is finally winning out over here, despite weeks, it seems, of dreary cold and rain. When that beautiful yellow spring sun comes out, I just want to fill my life with plants and flowers. So yesterday I went to Lowe’s and left happy.  Radishes are awesome. So I cut up a whole bag of them so they are ready for me to nibble on at any time. I love radishes. Dylan thinks they taste gross, but hey man- you do you, and I’ll do me.  It’s also really awesome to drink out of a ball mason jar or a pickle jar, or basically any jar.  I like jars so much better than proper cups. And in the spring my favorite drink is an iced tea, and I swear to God that iced tea tastes better in a jar. It just does.  And that makes me happy. So if you come to my house, be prepared to drink out of something that used to hold spaghetti sauce.

I think we sometimes elevate this idea of happiness to BIG things, important events, major life stuff.  Something to earn or work toward.

But I think happiness can be as simple as a vase of sunflowers. Or a window opened on a warm spring day. Or a cup of coffee that’s perfectly made. Or making eye contact with a perfect stranger, and exchanging a smile. Or laughing. Oh, laughing. Any moment, when if you pay attention to it, you realize that your heart is resting calmly. And your shoulders aren’t tensed up to your ears. What are those things and moments for you? And it’s okay if they only last a moment. This is also what I’ve come to believe…. It’s those moments, woven together, that happiness is made of. 

But if we’re not careful, we can forget to tend to our happy place. We can discount the importance of moving closer to us those things that make our heart feel good, and moving further from us those things that make our heart hurt. We race from this place to the next, we pile on the stressors; we dwell in the to do lists, and don’t even notice when the sun is shining, or don’t even taste the perfectly made coffee because we’re distracted by the email. We only half hear the song we love that’s playing in the background. We don’t look up.

So look around you. Where’s your happy? Go grab it, now. Enjoy it, even if for a moment. Notice it. Turn up the song.  Feel the warmth of the sun. Hug that person for a bit longer. Go get your favorite drink, and actually taste it. Turn the tv off if it’s just noise to get rid of the silence. Put on an outfit that makes you feel good. Eat a radish. Or, you know, whatever.

Just… Look up.

Look up.

Where can you find happiness today?

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.