Ingrid Goff Maidoff - Tending Joy

Celebrating Poetry, Beauty,
& the Sacred Essence of Joy

Happiness Vitamins…are you taking yours?


 I was talking to an acquaintance the other evening, and she asked me if I was rich yet from my book sales.  She was referring to the beautiful versions of my books of quotations published by Andrews McMeel a year ago.  Unfortunately, the books faced placement and marketing problems from the start, and their sales have been disappointing.  I told her that no, I wasn’t rich.  Then I added, “I’ll just have to be happy.”  “You seem happy,” she observed.  And then she said, “I’m not.  I wish I was happy but I’m not.”

     I was immediately perplexed and wanted to give her some profound and comforting paradigm-shifting answer.  But we were at a party of over 200 people, shouting over the din.  Small talk was all that was possible, so what I managed was, “Well, I’ve been taking my vitamins.” She laughed and said, “I bet you’re taking your Bs.  B6s and B12s.”  “Yes,” I told her.  And our conversation ended.

                What I was hoping to imply from so simple a suggestion as taking vitamins was that happiness is something to be nourished, paid attention to and cultivated.  I know there have been studies that show some people are born with happier dispositions than others, but there are also many studies that suggest there are things we can do to promote happiness.  So I’ve been thinking about B Vitamins.  As I am a lover of words and of spirit-centered living, I have composed a list of Bs which I have found very helpful to my own sense of happiness.  I offer them in hopes they inspire a few Vitamins (promoters of vitality) of your own.

BODHICHITTA & BENEVOLENCE: Bodhichitta is one of my favorite words from Buddhism.  One of its meanings is the peace of love which exists beneath all things.    As Einstein suggested, one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is whether you believe the Universe is a friendly place or not.  Every day I hope to ground myself in Bodhichitta.  I put my trust in BENEVOLENCE, the basic goodness, and the peace of love that exists beneath all things.  

 BELONGING: A sense of belonging is so important to happiness, and is something we need to cultivate through forging strong ties with our family, friends, community, workplace, world at large, and our sense of the BELOVED.   Beloved is a name for the divine spacious presence we carry in our hearts and whose eternal and infinite presence holds us also.  Beloved is a word for home.  Beloved is also a name for our lovers, our children.  Beloved is a word that cherishes relationships and an intimate sense of belonging.    

BEAUTY, BRILLIANCE:  These Bs are a matter of turning the eye, the heart and the mind to look for and perceive the sacredness of the world.  There is beauty everywhere.  

BLISS: This is the unique path that is yours- the gift or talent that is yours to give to the world.  Those who are in touch with their gift, and who have learned to follow their bliss, are among all who can call themselves happy.  BIRTH: This is a word for creativity- for channeling the energy of Life through you and into the world  

BIRDSONG: Birdsong represents many things: time spent in nature, serendipity and surprise, and the power of that still small voice within which sings to us when we are quiet enough to listen.  

BELIEVE: As happiness is often a result of our thoughts and the stories we tell ourselves, what we believe shapes our perspective of reality.  I’ve learned that I have beliefs that uplift me and those that limit me.  I’ve learned to question my assumptions, and to keep the good ones. 

BOUNTY: To perceive bounty, plenty, abundance, and to live your life from love as opposed to scarcity is a definite happiness booster.  

 BLESSINGS, BLESS, BLESSEDNESS: Happy people count their blessings.  They have learned the power of gratitude.  And they have also learned the power of blessing.  If there is something that you can not count as a blessing, bless it- invoke the power of the hidden realm to fill the world with its blessings.  Blessedness is the powerful perception of living in Bodhichitta, bounty, benevolence and beauty. 

BREATH:  A simple practice I use to invoke happiness is to breathe in peace on an inhale, and breathe out Joy on an exhale.  We are blessed with over ten thousand breaths a day.  Remembering this imbues life with a rich and harmonious sense of gratitude and celebration.  

BOUNDLESSNESS:  What a wonderful word for spaciousness, limitlessness, freedom, and eternal and infinite possibility…

BOUYANCY:  Another word for resilience, a kind of pluck and faith that happy people have, understanding that clouds pass, storms move through, spring comes and the grass grows by itself…. 

BODY:  Caring for and listening to the body is an important activity for happiness.  Sometimes feelings of unease, distress, and depression are the body’s call for help.  And it is important to mention here that happy people understand that sometimes unhappiness is a BIOCHEMICAL reality,  and no number of words or ideals or practices will substitute for an understanding of the body and the brain….

BEING-   To rest in the Universe’s benevolence with all of your being, knowing that sometimes simply being is far more important than all the doing in the world, does a lot to promote BALANCED and harmonious living.  

BECOMING, BLOSSOMING, BLOOMING: These are inspiring words that speak to growth and learning, expanding one’s horizons, one’s understanding, and becoming more and more open to life.   

BEGIN: Such a beautiful word, BEGIN.  It reminds me of the Goethe quote: ”Whatever you can do or dream you can, BEGIN it. BOLDNESS has genius, power and magic in it.”  BEGIN is a word that says don’t let your fearful mind talk you out of pursuing your passions and living your dreams.  Happy people know how to begin and, when necessary, begin again.

That’s my B Brainstorm for now.  May it promote health, happiness and vitality. Let me know if you think of any others!




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One Response

  1. Sandy Galpert says:

    What beautiful words to hear when we are in need of some cheering up, of some promise of spring. I especially enjoyed Birdsong and Begin.

    Thank you!

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