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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why Aren't You Happy Already?

This morning I was trying to find this coffee shop in uptown D.C., in the freezing cold.
The entire job consisted of walking southbound on Wisconsin Avenue. Four blocks from the train and I would have been there.
I took out my iPhone just to be sure. Aha! Go that way!  I love this thing! 
Gleefully I skipped along the cobblestones. It is freezing out here, effing freezing, I said to myself, but I am so, so happy that I will be there in five. 
Ten minutes later I was standing on a street corner, thinking angry things. 
I hate Google!
I hate this stupid phone!
I hate Washington, D.C.!
I can't even feel my fingers!
I HATE COFFEE!
(OK, that last part I definitely did not think.)
With a sigh of resignation, I realized that I cannot get directions off of any phone. Because I am directionally challenged. 
But somehow I figured it out and there it was. I virtually breathed it aloud: Oh, what a lovely coffee shop!
Coffee Nature in Washington, D.C. (4224 Fessenden Street NW)
It was early in the morning but there were already people there.
Mercifully the line was short and I ordered a coffee and espresso, extra light.
They knew enough to serve it in a mug.
The vibe in that place was so relaxing. One guy was sitting in a beat-up cloth-covered chair that looked like it had been rescued from someone's grandmother's attic. Next to him was a giant glass window.
He was older, and reading the paper with great intensity. His reading glasses fell forward on his nose and he didn't bother to move them back where they belonged.
"Coffee with espresso?" someone said and I turned around. 
Oh goodness look at me, all nervous...long heavy coat scraping against the sides of rickety chairs, balancing a heavy knapsack laden with too many computers. 
Why do we carry so many ways to get connected to the Internet?
I took the coffee gratefully and somebody cleared out a seat. The table was ill-balanced and the $4 liquid spilled a little this way and a little that.
It didn't bother me at all. 
I wiped up and looked out the window as I waited. What a peaceful scene this was.
Next to me a couple of people were talking about something or other. I was so close to them that the three of us might have been sitting together.
But we weren't, and I didn't care what they said. It was putting me to sleep, a kind of meditative, heavy daze.
My friend walked in and she yelled, "Coffee! Coffee! Don't talk to me until my coffee!" 
I laughed a big hearty laugh because I knew exactly what she meant.
"I totally hate people who don't love coffee!" were the words that jovially came out. And though they sounded stupid when I said them, and even stupider as I write, in my voice there was a kind of joy that is very hard to describe.
Kinship.
She got her coffee and they'd made a little teddy bear out of the froth. 
"How do they do that?" I asked. "Is that for real?"
"He's a MASTER," said my friend. And together we marveled at the coffee. 
The conversation went on, to here and from there, and if you ask me what we said I couldn't tell you. 
But I will always remember the thrill of being lost and finding my way, and this charming little place. And time out with a friend who gets it.
Are we happy? Who is happy? Who can really point to their whole entire life, or even a segment of their life, and say: Damnit was all good?
No one.
If there are happy moments they are only fleeting snippets, we're happy without even realizing we were feeling so good, and then it's over and we tell ourselves, Look at all the problems there are, you really need to do much better. 
Maybe we're chasing the wrong things.
Maybe the happy moments are already there, all around us. And all we need to do is shut down our brains and feel them.
Some advice I got from my smart D.C. friend.
___
Copyright 2015 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. Dr. Blumenthal is founder and president of BrandSuccess, a corporate content provider, and co-founder of the brand thought leadership portal All Things Brand. The opinions expressed are her own and not those of any government agency or entity or the federal government as a whole. Cover photo by Andrew Taylor via Flickr (Creative Commons). Coffee collage screenshot from the Coffee Nature website.