Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Elements of Happiness: Take Shelter

Welcome to the third installment of a new Series I'm writing entitled, Elements of Happiness. Posts on the subject began last week, so if you'd like to catch-up, click here for the first article and click here for the second one. There will be 6 in all, for now, so today puts us at half way there! Now that you're all caught up, let's continue, shall we?

I sit at my kitchen table, staring out the sliding glass door while rain pounds the Earth and the winds bend tree branches to unnatural contortions only seen in advanced Yoga classes. I see a bird, a robin, it's scrawny, wirey feet wrapped tightly around a skinny, fragile branch. The ride gets to be too much for the little bird so he disappears into an Alberta Spruce right next door. The pine tree needles, still evergreen throughout the winter, act as an umbrella, denying the determined rain from flooding the inside. The robin needed shelter from the wild rains and winds, and he found it. He knew where to go to cling to safety. I imagine the robin sighing in relief while fluffing his feathers in his newly found shelter, just until the storm passes.

We have storms of our own that we must face. It's part of living. We think it's those storms that steal away our happiness, but it's actually our shelter that helps us weather it out. That's why another Element of Happiness is knowing where or what your shelter is. It must be defined because if you don't know what that is, you may not be able to find your way out of the darkness when things are most bleak. By defining your shelter, you give respect to it, you acknowledge the healing powers it offers you on your most challenging of days.

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Please, don't take this exercise for granted: take a moment to truly think about your shelter. Knowing your shelter is part of the Happiness Element. Where do you go to lick your wounds, heal your soul, and muster courage to face the storms in your life? Does your comfort come from a bathtub, spilling over with steam and bubbles? Is your shelter the local coffee shop down the street where you can melt your insecurities and anxieties in a cup of mocha latte cradled in both hands, fingers gently wrapped around its permeating warmth? Perhaps it's a park, just you and your 4-legged friends, hiking out of a dismal emotional pit of worry. Do you get it? You need to define it and then, without thinking, you go there when you need to. You don't think, you don't wallow in self-pity, you just go there. It is your place of healing, most sacred. And to hold on to happiness while you brace yourself for the storm, you must find your shelter. It's a matter of survival, emotional and spiritual. Is this making any sense?

For me, my shelter has always been rooted in nature and warmth. When life's hill gets a bit too steep, I walk the woods. When it's too cold outside to bother, I indulge in a cup of coffee, soothing from the inside, out. Some of life's storms even send me on a little shop therapy - I'm still waiting for those excursions to be counted as medical tax deductions. 

Know your shelter, use your shelter, and go there often, even while the clouds only begin to gather and the storm starts rolling in. You'll find that happiness remains at the forefront, regardless of circumstances, when you are surrounded by creature comforts. I think I see a storm brewing; turn on the Keurig.

Oh, happy day! 


Suzan Wood-Young said...

Gimme shelter in the great outdoors! It's in my Wood DNA. :)

I am LOVD said...

An appropriate maiden name, Suzan!

I am LOVD said...

Curious to those reading...when you seek your own shelter, are others there or do you seek it in solitude? I'm in on the solitude, personally.

Megan said...

This is so beautiful.

I am LOVD said...

Megan, I'm so glad you think so. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

Suzan Wood-Young said...

I'm for solitude as well, though I don't mind the company of animals, both wild and domestic.


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