Earlier this week, I heard author Eve Rodsky say, “Let’s remember, happiness is sustained attention to something you love.”

This is one of the most helpful notions of happiness I’ve heard (and trust me, I’ve heard a lot of them!). For me, it’s also one of the most resonant.

My happiest times are indeed those in which I bring sustained attention to something I love. A creative act. A work of literature. A certain way of gathering with people.

Defining happiness is tricky business – are we really talking about contentment or joy or something else? How do we account for the vast cultural differences around the expectations for happy affects and happy attitudes? Are our aims for “happiness” realistic? And what does happiness even mean in times like these?

We also must name that getting to think about and seek out happiness is a privilege. It means we are safe and free enough to not be thinking about our survival. That’s important to remain aware of.

If our lives hold that gift of a clearing in which we can pursue some kind of happiness, this idea of it, “sustained attention to something we love” might help. It tells me that if I want to be happier today, I need to find a window of time and focus to give sustained attention to something I love.

I love that this definition doesn’t ask us to seek continual, generalized happiness. It guides us to find oases of happiness within our days.

So, to make that practical:

Do you remember what you love? 
There have been times in my life when I couldn’t. It’s okay to be in one of those times. Start journaling, start remembering, start bravely experimenting, and answers will come.

Do you have that window of time and space to give sustained attention to something you love? 
If not, how can you carve it out? Maybe just once or twice a week to start. What conversations do you need to have with loved ones to change things around to open up that time? Or what might you need to delegate, simplify, or drop off the to-do list for now?

What distractions or compulsions keep you from giving sustained attention to something you love? (I’m looking at you social media & email!) 
What boundaries do you need to put in place around that?

Thank you for thinking about this with me today.

Today, may we all give sustained attention to something we love.



photo credit: Virginia Lackinger

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