Nearby a spring is talking quietly, spilling its secrets out to any plants and animals that will come by to listen.  Is it the spring that is making me happy, or the sustenance it provides or just the presence of those enjoying its waters?  What I know is that the ripples are slowly carrying away my troubles. So I watch the dark backside of each as they run playfully away from my lightening soul.

This will probably be the first of many posts about happiness. I was never very interested in philosophy, and I never put much time into thinking about abstract concepts like happiness. For most of my life, I think I just found my happiness naturally. Or perhaps it never occurred to me to question whether or not happiness was  worth thinking about for its own accord when I couldn’t find it. A few years ago things changed for me, and I began thinking much more about happiness.

The change happened when I found myself in a dark emotional place that I could not easily walk out of.  I tried my usual fixes for being down – spending time in the natural world and with friends – but nothing that had worked in the past helped this time.  I finally allowed myself to use the word depression, and I identified it as being linked to my job.

It took two years before I managed to leave that position, but in the ensuing time I realized that the troubles I was experiencing were only superficially connected to what I was doing. On a deeper level those dark feelings were tied to a much more profound issue that I was struggling with –  feelings related to self worth.  These complex emotions were intimately wrapped up in my job, but they were not solely there because of the work.

Since then I’ve learned a great deal about the difference between the darkness of a job that wasn’t right for me and the darkness I generated myself as a result of that job.  As it turns out, the emotions I generated myself were a much more difficult animal to tame.  Now, after some work, I feel as though I’ve found my way through this wilderness and identified the makings of happiness again.  In the fight, I learned many things – some from myself, some from outside sources such as Tibetan buddhism, and still others that were rediscoveries of lessons that I had learned years ago, but hadn’t paid much attention to until I really needed them.

I am a pretty pragmatic person.  I would call myself skeptical, and I am only lightly interested in questions of spirituality.  Nevertheless, I’ve found useful tools in places where I least expected to find them.   I plan to write more about all of these in the future.  I’m looking forward to hearing about other peoples’ experiences in these areas.

Small beauty in Eagle Creek Roadless Area, Oregon