For years I have studied and watched for what makes people happy. I am not talking about circumstances that make us happy, but those people who actually seem to be dialed into something sweet despite the events tacking them to the carpet.   My family is peppered with artists and eccentrics, and I am on a diligent mission to unpeel creative talent from depression and darkness. Too many of my loved ones have been unable to breathe because of the weights that pull their shoes into the quicksand.

 

I have vintage polaroid memories of watching Johnny Carson with PawPaw and my dad, and watching their delight at his delight.   He was infectious because he was a big and very real fan of others antics. He was in service to their genius, which brought forth his. I see this in Jimmy Fallon’s generosity too, and wonder if he studied Carson. I tend to think it bubbles up from him naturally too, and his interest in others is infectious.

 

We have become a culture that’s too focused on self-help, self-artistry and self-care. While I am a huge advocate of inner listening and exploring our personal needs, there is a point to face outward and see what and who needs us. My mother, who is a gentle but powerful leader of a fantastic school, said to me yesterday: “Sometimes people need to stop taking their own temperature and analyze whether or not they are perfectly happy, and instead just jump in to help someone else shine.”

 

I have a dear friend Leslie who I have decided to study for life tips.   She is effervescent and magnetic in the best of ways, and I have watched her navigate incredibly hard things like losing her mother from cancer at 27. I received a text on my Dad’s birthday this year from Leslie, and it read “I honored your dad by ordering his book of poetry on amazon yesterday. Can’t wait to read it.” She remains incredibly curious, delighted, interested and deeply engaged in the stories of others. She asked the best questions, and life seems better when she’s around. The magical ingredient is service. She is in the moment, inflating the person or task at hand with her attention.  This outlook means less quicksand, carpet tacks and getting stuck in your own sludge.

 

When I feel the most stuck is when I forget to cast my line into the stories of others and engage in deep curiosity and studentship. Thank goodness for my teachers today who remind me to stop sinking down and look around instead. There is a lot of genius around to be inspired by.  To Carson and Fallon, Leslie and Mom. And, to the great learning and relief that comes from being awake in the room, and out of your head.