Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Happiness Enters Through the Senses

Judith Peck, Ed.D.

A feeling of happiness begins not from a state of mind but an impression of the senses. From sight, sound, taste, smell or touch first, and only later, the mind’s awareness. Nature affords this nutrition for the senses, which is just as necessary for a state of well being as the nutrients of food and drink for the body. I first understood this when I was in a position to feel all five of these remarkable ingredients and in those moments became aware of the sensation, I am happy.

Sitting in a comfortable chair in an exquisite room decorated by the wife, an artist, sipping a glass of excellent red wine, home-made by the husband, while music by Prokovioff surged from the piano, I was effused with a sensation of complete happiness. I realized suddenly that this state of being, so complete in its lack of tension or negativity came as a result of the fulfillment of all five senses at once.

Why should it come as a surprise that nature requires us to feed the senses just as we understand we must feed the body?  That this plentiful bounty is provided in nature, just as it is provided in nature’s resources of food and water should equally come as no surprise.

Sitting outside, if there are no unsightly distractions, abrasive sounds, offensive smells,  too cold or too hot or too rough sensations to the body, you can feast on nature. There is so much to take in: the shapes of tree branches, the infinite varieties of the color green, the changing color and temperament of the sky, the sight of a squirrel performing hi-wire tricks without a net, the sound of the wind through the trees, the caress of the breeze, the smell of flowers.

Of course, just as in every other excess in which we humans involve ourselves, we can over-do each of these sensations. Engage in too much sight-indulgence watching TV or addiction to digital devices; listen too steadily and abrasively to music excessively loud and noise-related; eat too much and drink too much; caress too much, sniff too much, all of which take us further away from the world we inhabit that holds more riches to ever be able to consume. The arts—each of them: dance, drama, visual art, music—depend on their audience’s sensual consumption.

Being aware of the nutrients needed for healthy happiness is a start. Finding the plentitude all around is easy, just look, listen, taste, pick up the scent, feel the touch and you’ve got it.