The Art of Feeling Better is a series of articles where the author undertakes the adventure of finding out what it means to truly be happy. This is the last of five explorations. Click here to begin from the beginning.
Part Five – Conclusion
I’m not going to end as I had planned.
I had done my homework. I was ready to amaze you by quoting endless psychological studies of humans as social creatures, regaling you with tales of meaningful connection and telling you that finding the answer to the Art of Feeling Better was easy.
I wanted to offer one concrete, doable action and say: this one was the winner. For example, connection. That’s got to be it. Don’t watch those YouTube videos on your own, stuff your face full of popcorn with someone. Hang out with your loved ones. Fill that boat you’re traveling on, waving to others as they cross the River Styx, and you’ll feel better.
But that’s not the root of euphoria. Though it does help, and all of you are welcome to my popcorn anytime.
The difficult task of staying open is the greatest tonic for the black dog, ennui, lethargy of spirit or when one is in process. It’s also the hardest thing to do when we are suffering, when we cannot tell the difference between pain—an impermanent feeling—and the core of our very being. But it’s crucial.
Curiosity is the hand of Indiana Jones lifting you out of a snake pit. It keeps you engaged in the adventure that is your life. As Joseph Campbell says, “Your life is far broader and deeper than you conceive it to be.”
Curiosity allows you to do things you never thought you could do, learn things that expand your concept of the universe, awakens and humbles the spirit and offers opportunity to connect. Curiosity is the engine of transformation.
Some of the most resilient people I have met are not the happiest, are not the most goal-oriented, nor are they permanently positive. But they do, consistently, demonstrate a humbling openness and interest in What They Don’t Know. While I worked at NASA, many of the engineers and scientists unanimously answered that their favorite part of the job was when “the universe surprised them”.
It’s a outlook that has stuck with me. Some of our best and brightest, who hold universal amounts of information in their mind, are also apparently ninjas at Samuel Johnson’s credo for curiosity.
I was not lost for feeling like the “walking bewildered”, nor was I weaker for not having a goal, nor was I destined for an unrealized life because I had negative thoughts. The only thing I was lacking was the same curiosity those NASA scientists had for the universe.
I had failed to show the same sense of humility towards myself.
The Art of Feeling Better is a messy journey. Read, try, explore or watch as much YouTube as you like. There is no path other than your own making. And like any art, feeling better is a creative pursuit. The paint brush is in your hands to engage with it as it suits you. If the term “staying open” feels too naive or abstract, then:
Stay Curious. Please.
Remain Curious. How? Admit we don’t know everything. Soften. Play. Be wrong. A lot. And enjoy the feeling. It will be make you feel better.
The Art of Feeling Better takes a self care topic each week and explores the how each contributes to making one healthier and happier. Week One explored awareness, Week Two explored connection and adventure, Week Three was all about indulgence. Week Four talked about magic. This is the last installment.
(photo: MartinaK, Flickr)
Author, screenwriter and director, Jessica Fox’s love of stories began at five years old when reality betrayed her and dressing as Superman did not grant her superpowers. Thus a life of play was born. Jessica graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Mythology and Astronomy from Franklin & Marshall College. Currently, she is writing a rom-com with Unlimited Pictures based on her award-winning memoir Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets, directing a Mars documentary with Passion Pictures and is co-developing a family programming series “Never After” featuring Gillian Anderson. Her shorts been featured at U.S. film festivals and she was the band documentarian for the Dresden Dolls. Fox was also a storyteller for NASA and currently satisfies her inner nerd as the Chief Narrative Officer for HiddenGenius and story consults for tech organizations. Connect with her via Facebook.