Fallout from the pandemic continues to provide opportunities for incredible personal insight.
The most recent example involved a family gathering at our home in Central Florida. This would be the first time in years that my siblings and I would all be together, with our dad, in one place. Like most such gatherings, food featured prominently in the day’s agenda.
Executing our menu called for using skills in baking and the pastry arts that I had neglected for an equally long time. Dusting off technique and tweaking a ratio or two, I plunged into creating an assortment of sweet and savory pastries that drew rave reviews from the crowd. It felt good.
So good, in fact, that the next week I produced a mock-order of breakfast pastries as if preparing them for a client or to sell at a local market. My heart overflowed with joy, passion oozing from every pore as I gleefully floated through the process.
Lost in the moment and fueled by unfiltered creativity, I began alternating baking with scripting content for our TSHAMRELL website, all the while humming a song that had become my soundtrack for the day,
Anna looked at me and smiled. “You’re humming,” she said. “You must be feeling pretty good.”
“It’s something better than that,” I responded. “I feel happy.”
Beyond the Cognitive Horizon
As the flour dust settled from an eventful day, I expected to feel exhausted and spent.
Instead, I felt energized. Writing and baking had flowed with ease, each medium stimulating insight for the other, embodying the happiness present in my heart and soul.
The experience reminded me of how I once viewed the world.
Each day as a Pastry Chef was celebrated with similar vigor, time and effort completely abandoned in the whimsy of expression. I chronicled a unique perspective on reality, capturing impulsive insights through poetry, and writing children’s stories to reflect the joy two beautiful sons had brought into our lives.
It wasn’t the most lucrative existence, but it was the epitome of joie de vivre. I was happy.
Eventually, there would be an opportunity to capitalize on my previous experience and pursue a more secure, stable lifestyle for my family.
Pastry was relegated to hobby status, something handy to bring off the shelf for holidays and birthdays. Writing became a tool to communicate effectively across the expanse of a corporate agenda, my sense of expression consciously tempered to blend with a universal message.
I fell prey to competitive ambition, my vision blurred by the promise of contentment within an expanded scope of influence and next level authority.
As a result, happiness was pushed beyond my cognitive horizon.
No one said it had to be that way. It just happened when I wasn’t looking.
Readjusting My Lens
Once I had stopped making pastries professionally, I abandoned the value baking brought to my life.
And since I never wrote independently as a career choice, it was easy to overlook it as a primary outlet for expression.
The pandemic and ensuing change of career readjusted my lens, bringing the joy from these incredibly important talents back to the forefront of my life.
As always, there are insights from the journey for us to share:
Fit Happiness into Your Life
My situation is unique in that the pandemic totally flipped the script on me, exposing an opportunity to pursue happiness on a grand scale.
Don’t wait for an epic event to find room for happiness in your life.
You may not be able to devote yourself full-time to a singular, passionate pursuit. So, embrace aspects of life that bring you joy, such as family, nature, hobbies, community service, painting, dancing, singing, etc.
Spontaneity releases the magic, but remember: we are what we repeatedly do. Happiness is the result of action.
Make these activities a habit to benefit from the energy and enthusiasm they provide. Notice how they lift and shift your perspective, promoting an optimistic outlook on life and improving an overall willingness to enjoy it.
Discovering My True Source of Happiness
Even though I had experienced dynamic inspiration between baking and writing, I still viewed them as separate entities. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered they each represent unfiltered expression, my true source of happiness.
I could accomplish this through other mediums, such as singing, sculpting, painting, or playing an instrument. But those are talents and skills missing from my genetic toolbox.
It used to amaze me to discover that a famous musician also created breathtaking works of art, or a celebrity chef played piano like a master. How could they be so accomplished in two different crafts?
Now, I realize that multiple skills can serve as outlets for artistic expression. Even two as seemingly separate as writing and baking.
An Absence of Sadness Is Not Happiness
People who’ve known me over the course of my career would probably describe me as a happy person. And it’s true, there are so many things in life that I am grateful for and that bring me happiness.
But even while performing at a high level and displaying natural acumen, I wasn’t doing what brought me total joy and contentment, what made my heart sing, and satisfied my need for genuine, unfiltered, and heartfelt expression. I know that now . . . better late than never.
Begin your readjustment process by rephrasing that sentiment into a question:
Are you doing what makes you happy, what makes your heart sing, and satisfies your need for expressing the genuine you?
Then extend the question to those looking to you for guidance. You will be amazed at how a little readjustment brings the world into an entirely new level of focus.
Happiness Mindset Over Body
Happiness is the lens through which you view the world. This explains how a happiness mindset can influence physical symptoms from fatigue and stress.
For the longest time I viewed writing as another task, a drain on precious time set aside for recharging my batteries at the end of the week.
My day spent immersed in writing and baking proved how far off center that perspective was.
Doing something I loved reduced the amount of mental energy I expended thinking about what else I could or should be doing.
I had become the Energizer Bunny. While the physical toll was the same, mental resources were available to overcome it, producing high quality results while riding an endless wave of positive energy.
Happiness will do that for you.
By the way . . . the song I was humming, my soundtrack for that day, wasn’t an obvious choice like “Happy” by Pharrell, or something from the Frozen soundtrack.
It was “Sunshower”, a masterful composition by the late, great Chris Cornell:
Though your garden’s grey
I know all your graces
Someday will flower
In a sweet sunshower.
This is Tall Tim, and I am happy to be At Your Service