In her article “How do self-organizing groups make decisions,” Lori Kane tells us about her “Happy Right Now” exercise that she undertook with her friend, hoping to discover a more productive alignment. She writes:
I felt we should document what makes us happy right now because what was true for us in the past is no longer true. In fact, his “nothing makes me happier this moment than financially taking care of my family” statement was a completeshock to me—sounding like something I said 5 years ago but like nothing I’ve ever heard him say. So, on a blank piece of paper:
- I wrote “Happy Daniel” and “Happy Lori”
- Around those words, we wrote everything we could think of that makes us happy. Right now. Not past stuff. And not future stuff like “I think a home on a sunny, tropical island beach would make me happy when I’m 70” but the right now stuff.
- His side has things like “financially taking care of our family,” “photography and teaching photography classes,” “working with smart, compassionate, new-idea people,” and “pizza.” My side has things like “studying and working as self-organizing groups,” “spending time with neighbors,” “community gardening,” and “chocolate mousse.”
- Down the middle—where our happiness clearly overlaps—appear words like “being silly,” “coffee,” “road trips,” “community,” and “housemates.”
- Because we’re so close, we could add more right now things to each other’s sides that we ourselves couldn’t see. For example, he added “doing something special for friends to make them feel special” and “getting regular exercise” to my side. I added “creative work” and “photography Twitter community” to his side.
My partner/wife Rocky and I went through a similar exercise, and, in a similar way, discovered the deep, shared delight of thinking about fun together. Such a simple question: what do we do for fun. It’s a little different than Lori’s “fun right now” question. And I think there may be different reasons for asking each other either of the two. “Fun right now” focuses on the immediate, acknowledging that things change, that “now” is more relevant to a decision we are hoping to make together. “What do we do for fun” focuses on the repertoire and history of a relationship. And since we have been in relationship for 45 years, helps us celebrate the richness of our lives together. Both are profound, healing, aligning. Both derive their wisdom and value from making each other more aware of the fun we have and the fun we bring each other.
A playful path is the shortest road to happiness.
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