imageThis simple, elegant gift of a breakfast of berries and champagne highlights the potent experience that has been my time in Europe thus far. It’s about staying in the moment, reveling in each gift the Universe bestows upon me, and flowing with gratitude and the ensuing grace as a petite river would flowing downstream into a larger source energy. It’s so synchronous that Oprah and Chopra would be conducting a 21-day meditation challenge on gratitude and grace as we speak. It ramps up the experience like you wouldn’t believe. #convergence. As I overflow with gratitude for every minute detail, every singular energy, every force that came together to allow these potent experiences that make up my life to unfold, I’m infused with gratitude, and my awareness of this flourishing state is crystalline. Marty Seligman’s PERMA model of flourishing is what comes to mind in this clarity. This model is made up of 5 elements, the cornerstones of a flourishing existence, including:
Positive Emotions
To be sure, each of these has played a major role in setting the scene for this feeling of flourishing I’m infused with. Positive Emotions are the direct result of staying in the moment, being fully engaged with the present, and allowing the simple joy of each segment of time to carry me forward. I’ve cultivated an ability to do this with every-increasing effectiveness over time as a direct result of my mindfulness practice. It has honed my ability to optimize Engagement. I recommend everyone practice mindfulness meditation daily to ramp up positive emotions and engagement. Trust me. When you learn how to stay present, and therefore are not carried forward into the future by scenarios that haven’t even played out yet, or tethered to the past which is gone and done, baseline states of calm and tranquility replace anxiety and stress. This also requires a fundamental faith in the unfolding of things, and a consistent appreciation of the moment-to-moment gifts you are receiving-the next breath, the next meal, the use of your limbs, a kind gesture of aid from a fellow human being. Between a daily mindfulness and gratitude practice (join one of my monthly mindfulness meet ups to learn how to utilize and practice these in your daily life), you’ve got these bases covered. imageThese practices also cultivate compassion and love, forces that feed directly into positive Relationships. This whole trip has been a halo around the importance of relationships in my life-every ounce of love I’ve given out to the other beings in my world seem to be coming back to me in spades when I need them. The buddy pass my Delta Airlines sister hooked me up with not only made the trip affordable, I flew business. I had asked the Universe for the gift of comfortable travel earlier this year, directly on the heels of one of the most uncomfortable journeys back from India that I can remember. And man how my ask was granted in the most beautiful way. Arriving in London and staying with my niece in her flat made me feel grounded and surrounded by the comforts of home and family even as I traversed foreign lands. For every trip to a tube stop, train station or airport, she made up maps and schematics, giving me essential brushstrokes without which I would’ve felt completement perdu. And when it came to the details, the strangers that I encountered in each destination guided me to the next stop and helped make things fluid. This also meant I had to have the courage to ask for help when I needed it, a necessary component of this energy exchange between humans. We’re often afraid to ask for help, to express what we need, to request permission to be human and fallible. When we learn the art of self-love and ego-diminishment, it’s amazing how much aid we can receive. When I arrived in Heathrow, and decided to take the tube to my niece’s flat for more adventure, I was graced with the presence of an unsolicited angel, a strapping young lad who carried my bag up the stairs so I could swiftly switch trains, and waited for me at the next landing, anticipating my need again. I was overwhelmed with his thoughtfulness and thanked the Universe over and over again then and there for all of these gifts. When I got myself over to Amsterdam for a literal 24-hour jaunt, my positive psychology colleague made every effort to take care of me with unparalleled and unexpected elegance. He bought every train ticket, ordered every lunch (spoken Dutch is an uber challenge, even for a girl like me who has a bent for language), made me dinner, procured fine wines, even got me to see a windmill, a canal, tulips and a bridge all along the way to his flat. Relationships I had cultivated over years, weeks, minutes and even seconds paved the way for seamless moments of flourishing. And I understood then so much about the Meaning of life. Meaning is something I search for constantly, straining to find the magic in ordinary moments, justifying my existence every chance I get by connecting it to something ever-larger and more mysterious. What it means to be alive is to maximize this life-force energy by extracting the joy from every instance, living infinitely in the finite, and curating your life as a lover of art would organize a gallery. It’s the ultimate in aesthetic, refined senses, pure joy and appreciation. Now this doesn’t mean every soul you encounter will dole out a smile and a kind word or hand. Sometimes your blissful flow will be jolted by someone abrasive, rude, even sinister. It’s in these moments that the joy you’ve banked will serve you, the compassion you’ve cultivated will flow, the energy of things will balance. It’ll be your turn to smile, to detach from the expectation of kindness, to bring your best self to another energy that’s clearly in need. And in this way you’ll feel full, rotund Accomplishment. The great Greek philosopher Ovid said that the greatest human need is to love. That’s right, not to be loved, but to love. So revel in your ability to give love, especially in the most difficult circumstances, because this is when you will elevate to a higher order of flourishing. And when you have others reach out to make your journey happier, more fluid, revel in that too. And take note, and pat yourself on the back, for the ride in its totality, this life that flows out because you’re choosing it, because you’re making the effort to gain experience. Revel in the ensuing empowerment and vitality you feel when you realize “I did this, this is myAccomplishment.” And that, that, is living. That isflourishing.