HAPPINESS :Do you know where you are going?
SECRET TO HAPPINESS: Verbalise in words exactly what is is you want
TRADITION: Shinto ema (consecrated/dedicated vow plaques)
DATE: Any -time
Who wants to be happy? I do. That is why I created my ‘Global happiness’ page and I know I am not alone. We all want to be happy. What does happiness mean to you? Happiness is not permanent and is rather fleeting – episodic. I know that money can make me happy for a bit. I mean I don’t need loads of it but in our world to have a bit of money helps. What about things like being good at your job? Being in an awesome relationship?
Here is the plain fact, if you are unable to define what makes you happy-then you are going to find it rather exhausting to find it. Through-out Japan dotted about are what are called Shinto temples ( which are kind of like shrines –Shinsha means ‘place of Gods’.
For a few hundred yen, people write down their wishes, wants and what they hope for, they decorate these plaques, or ’ema’s’ as they are officially called, with images -a popular one being a horse
In a fascinating article about connections with the rest of Asia, Mark Riddle looks at the subject through the lens of the Indo-European cult of the sacred horse. He identifies the principal features as follows: Horses were sacred symbols which were associated with a fertility cult and with rain. A white horse symbolised the sun and was often used in ritual sacrifice. Horses were also associated with death and funeral symbolism.
If one thinks of Mongol warriors, then clearly the horse was a vehicle of power that enabled its rider to dispense death and destruction over wide areas. It was quite literally a seat of authority. To a lowly peasant, the fast moving creature must have seemed imbued with an air of divine power. It’s but a short step to imagine the horses descending with their godlike riders from heaven. Something of this clearly entered Japan at a time when Shinto was still in the process of formation
People ask for a number of things. They are very specific in asking and writing down what they want, so it can be
To get a new car
get a job that a person wants
It could be to want someone who is going through a bad time to change it into a good outcome.
Each plaque or ’ema’ hung up , adorning the temple for the Kami of the Gods to read ( a loose interpretation)
I know that for myself that when I don’t know where I am headed in life -life can almost feel paralysing. Questions like what am I doing here? What must I do with my life? can drag you further and further away from happiness. In my own life I have gravitated to drugs and to becoming so unwell mentally because I didn’t know what would make me happy. I had a bow and arrow (tools) but I was aimless. I didn’t know what or where to aim to achieve a sense of happiness.
The ema plaques can easily be adapted to the western way by writing a wish list.
Where do I begin? you ask.
Go deeply into your mind and think how you want your life to look.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
I want to be at peace with my body, I want to move away from my current home and work in the mental health sector – specifically I want to be employed by a mental health charity to help support people who are struggling with their mental health and I want to be a part of eradicating the stigma attached to mental illness. This is why I volunteer with mental health charities. It is why I put so much effort into going to every meeting, to do any workshops and training to achieve my goal at what I think will make me happy.
WHAT EXPERIENCES DO YOU WANT TO HAVE?
I want my wedding day to be a happy experience, I want to experience being pregnant in the relationship I have now. I want to have another child and have a chance to embrace motherhood in a way I couldn’t imagine when I was pregnant with my daughter. I want to move away from living in a council home and be able to afford to live in a bigger home -a family home that is decorated to my tastes. I want to get out more. I want to go visit my family in South Africa and Miami.
WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO YOU WANT TO BE?
I want to be a person that is easy to talk to, someone who sees the silver lining in every situation no matter how bad the circumstances. I want it to inspire people that life is liveable and happiness is within their grasp. When people see me I want them to be glad to see me. I want to be a person who laughs a lot, is affectionate. I want to be the person who feels the fear but goes with it. I want to not be caught up in how I look all the time. I want to be emotionally secure and to let go of the past completely. I want to be spontaneous and go out and see more of the world. I want to be a person who people find comforting. I want to be a person that is successful in my career, being a Mom, wife, daughter, grand daughter. I want to be a person who has more friends. I want to be that person who is always psyched up to be healthy and active.
WHO DO YOU WANT TO SHARE YOUR LIFE WITH?
My family- my partner, my daughter and other children I hope have, my Mom, my cousins, my Dad and sister and step Mom, my Nan, my uncles and my friends old and new. I want to be a part of people’s lives who are in recovery or trying to become mentally well. I want to work well with work colleagues.
All you need to do is what I have done. Write it or type it! Do it! Aim that bow in some direction -a direction you want it to go in.
The message is this: by expressing your inner desires in a more crystallised form -something you can see down on paper or in front of you ; the more likely you will know in which direction you want to go. You will have goals and these will be your own set of landmarks on your journey to be happy in life.