Week 45 – Learning to Live Happily Ever After

 When we consider our childhood and all of the stories that were shared regarding enchanted forests, fairy tales and happily-ever-afters they may seem like the simple naivety of a child or a distant memory of make-believe. After all, we live in a world of fast cars, high rent, over worked/under paid, late payments, mortgages, credit card debt and unrealized happiness. Unless it’s the weekend! Right? THAT’S when we find some happiness. Some freedom to let loose! Time to put the rat-race on pause and let our hair down because we have suddenly found the freedom to locate our happiness. We thank GOD for Friday and turn around and curse Him on Monday. We’re busy. Gotta go! Too much going on. Stay focused. Get ahead. Get yours cause I got mine. I’m just trying to make it. Keep my head up and my nose clean. “Ain’t nobody got time fa dat!” We do these things and chase our material dreams in search of a manufactured happiness. A replica. A mold or model. A simulation. But we don’t find the real thing. That type of happiness is fleeting. Short-lived. Temporary. So HOW do we create sustained happiness in our lives? Join Align to Enlighten during the month of November as we discuss Learning to Live Happily Ever After.

Being “enlightened” is simply about being aware of authentic truth at all times. That’s what enlightenment is and what it is about. As we discuss ways of Learning to Live Happily Ever After this month, one of the first things we want to share is…be enlightened. Enlightenment is not a destination where you have an ultimate “arrival.” Enlightenment is a state of being. A state of being that takes practice. The exercise never ends. But your enlightenment continues to grow the more you engage it. The more you pay attention to it, tend to it, nurture it, practice it, the more you become aware of what is authentically true to you. So, it is important to be mindful, aware, centered, grateful, in-the-moment, etc. because these are the tools that keep us enlightened.

Finding sustained happiness is a result of finding and practicing enlightenment in our lives. As I drive to work on the 5 Freeway and I see the bumper to bumper traffic, people on cell phones, others applying makeup or yelling at their kids or simply looking straight ahead, seemingly oblivious to their overall surroundings, I wonder…”what’s on your mind?” Are you being mindful, aware, centered, grateful and in-the-moment? Or are you a mental and spiritual zombie. A zombie, going through the motions without thought because this is the routine you are accustomed to. Thoughtless mental muscle memory that pushes you forward while your creativity lies dormant. These are things I think about. Then I look out beyond the traffic and I see the bright, blue sky, the mountains in the distance and the array of beautiful green trees that surround me. I open the windows of my car and feel the cool, gentle breeze and I can faintly smell the ocean across my nose. I see the birds flying high above me as if they don’t have a care in the world while gliding on the wind. I become caught up in the moment and the beauty that surrounds me…and I can’t…help…but…smile. At THAT moment…I’m living happily ever after.

I come home, kiss my wife, inquire about her day. Sit with my children and listen to their excitement as they tell me about the newest level they’ve made it to on a video game and how Gortex has been defeated and now they must battle his brother to the death in order to win the game. Or how there was an epic kickball game at school but Kim cheated because she didn’t touch 2nd base and refused to go back. Or how hard the test was in Social Science and nobody got number 13 correct because it was SOOOOO hard! And the entire time, the dog is in the middle of it all…ball in his mouth…tail wagging so much it may fall off. In looking at these people as they share, I see they are finding enjoyment in sharing their day and their experiences with ME. And in their enjoyment…I find myself living happily ever after.

I go into the kitchen thinking, okay…time to make dinner. And as I prepare whatever it is I have decided for the day, I begin to prepare to cook. I pull out meat, vegetables, cutting board, pots, pans, dishes, etc. knowing I’ve been at work all day and this is going to take another hour at least to cook for my family when I’d probably rather be sitting on my couch watching the game. But once I start, I begin to feel the love I am putting into this meal that will fill the bellies and provide comfort to my family. I put more love and take more care into what I’m doing to ensure their taste buds, their stomachs their sense of fulfillment and security, will be satisfied. The thought of that…makes me happy. And I realize…I’m living my happily ever after.

Happily ever after is not a destination. It is a state of being. And by paying attention, being aware, and finding gratitude, joy, love and happiness in the little things of life, we create the enchanted world that fairy tales are made of. Similar to enlightenment…happily ever after is not some destination but a state of being that takes practice. The exercise never ends. But your happiness continues to grow. The more you pay attention to it, tend to it, nurture it, practice it, the more you become aware of the happiness that surrounds you. When we are mindful, aware, centered, grateful, in-the-moment, etc. our happily ever after does not elude us. Our happily ever after becomes a part of our everyday lives.

During the month of November, we will explore and share many different ways of finding and sustaining happiness within our lives. Join us as we teach, Learning to Live Happily Ever After.

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