I was listening to one of Deepak Chopra’s meditations a few years ago – lovely they are – and something he said was sooo… appropriate to what we do with our horses, that it had me roaring with laughter at the truth of it.
He said “Few people are given any training on how to be happy.” Derrr… that’s because most people don’t know how to be happy in the first place, to be able to teach anyone else.
“They look at others and imitate the things that seemingly make them happy.” he said.
“In the field of positive psychology it is generally accepted that this method isn’t very productive”. This was where I roared with laughter. Deepak is sooo… dry and understated in his humour, he could be an Aussie.
We may look at others who seem to be happy with their new better stretching, better sticky jodhpurs, their cute jacket, the latest horse rug or new boots – although new boots could bring me happiness on a cold wet morning with a hole in my gumboots 🙂 and a well fitting, waterproof rug brings me a glow when I watch my horse all snug and comfortable and warm out in a winter storm.
But these are temporary happinesses that these others are experiencing and they can only bring us fleeting happiness too.
Lasting happiness isn’t gained by winning that competition (see my interview with world champion Kristine Nesbitt if you don’t believe that) or with the approval of your new trainer, or even with a new horse, as big and wonderful as that is.
All these things are temporary feelings of happiness. Looking for happiness in things, or in temporary events, means that we have to have more and more, buy more and more, spend more and more time looking for someone else’s approval – until we are chasing our tails chasing that happiness.
And all the time, lasting happiness was available right at our fingertips.
Picture me holding my finger up in a “but”… If life was non stop happiness, we would be bored out of our brains quite quickly.
I can feel some of you frowning at this thought. 🙂 Think about it. We wouldn’t even know we felt good if we didn’t have anything else to contrast it with, everything would be the same old same old all the time and life would be boring.
There is a natural ebb and flow of emotions in our lives. Those of us who have horses are luckier than anyone else on the planet, because we have these very special, amazing beings that can show us a path to get back to happiness every time we hit one of those “ebb” moments, who make it possible to find our way back to the flow of peacefulness and excitement and joyfulness and happiness quite quickly when we know how.
So the key to lasting happiness isn’t keeping happiness, trying to freeze it in time and hang on to it; lasting happiness is not to be found in trying to copy someone else’s fleeting happiness (although the advertising people would LOVE for that to be true).
It is first found in the absence of fear or nerves or anxiety or worry, whatever words you want to use to label fear. Lasting happiness is found in understanding the message of all these kinds of fear, understanding how to help both you and your horse be and feel safe, so that neither of you are nervous or anxious or afraid.
In the absence of fear, lasting happiness is found by having happiness and peacefulness and wholeness and inspiration and excitement as normal – and then knowing how to get back to those good feelings whenever you are not in that state.
Deepak Chopra said that lasting happiness is achieved through inner fulfillment.
He said that long term happiness happens when a person accomplishes something that they REALLY value, when they devote themselves to a higher set of values. He talked of spiritual things, but I want to bring this back to talk about the horse.
When we really value our horse, for everything that they bring us and everything that they are, understanding that their “faults” and their “problems” are all part of what makes them uniquely them and that these “faults” or “problems” are what they bring to us in richness of experience that helps us on our own path to find happiness – as we help them – then we can understand the same perspectives about our own faults and problems too.
Pause there for a moment and breathe on that last paragraph – read it again and again if you need to, until it lands in your heart. People have been known to pay therapists tens of thousands of dollars over years and years to get to where they understand that.
Achieving happiness with a horse is a thing that can happen so much easier than with other relationships, because the horse is completely non-judgmental and actively and thoughtfully works with us to achieve these personal growth goals that mean so much to them in their own sensitivity.
I guess this very sentience is why people who know all this as fact, can get sooo… upset at the abuse of horses. We know how much a horse will willingly and thinkingly do for a human, so watching humans thoughtlessly and willfully hurt them can be painfully inexplicable.
As we use inner awareness to help our horse find satisfaction and happiness in their life and as we find that in our own lives at the same time, we find that inner fulfillment that Deepak talks so beautifully about.
Ahhh… Ordinary people being Extraordinary