I just spent two weeks on a remarkable journey filled with so many heart opening, mind altering experiences it will take weeks to fully integrate — it will, perhaps, be my winter project.
The first week of my journey was with my two sisters. We flew into Jackson Hole, Wyoming to be together, explore Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Once together with luggage stowed in the rental car, we drove to Yellowstone, the first part of our time together. I had been to Yellowstone many years ago for a day. Then, I thought Yellowstone was beautiful with endless pools of colorful boiling mud or sulphur laden pools and geysers – of course, Old Faithful. This time I learned that Yellowstone is so much more. The mountains, lakes, valleys, and wildlife were truly awe-inspiring. And to share it with my sisters, a blessing. We made endless stops to soak in the views, photograph wildlife, and, one morning, to make way for a herd of bison using the road before us. When an entire herd of large animals is filling your path, headed in your direction, there is little choice but to stop in awe and allow them to pass. They passed silently with a destination in mind which included the road as easy access.
My sisters and I? We laughed, we talked, we shared our meals together and found a familiar rhythm which made for easy travel companions – I so very much loved being with both of them. We are not often all together as we live different lives in different parts of the country. We’ve lived apart many more years than our brief childhood together yet the familiarity is still a soothing groove re-awakened within minutes at the airport.
I love seeing neuro-plasticity in action. Our familial grooves run deep and even though we are very different from one another, there is a common thread of those years shared in our youth. Decision making was easy — not like in our childhoods where we may have argued or forced our hand due to age. Aging has a way of smoothing and reprioritizing. On this trip we easily deferred each decision to whoever expressed the strongest desire. We had fun photographing sunrises, sunsets, wildlife, and each other. We enjoyed our meals in restaurants, our cabins, on the tailgate, or by the river. At Grand Teton we got to stretch our legs on some hiking trails since we all love to be outdoors in nature.
From there, I spent a quick day with my daughter and grandchildren before returning home to begin the second week of my adventure — an immersion week at Kripalu to complete a year long Positive Psychology course I’d been a Teaching Assistant for (to learn more about the certificate program, go to WBI.org). This journey was totally opposite to my previous week where nature and grand views prevailed. The connections and expansion took place, primarily, in one large room. The group of over 150 students, faculty, and our group of teaching assistants gathered together after months of virtual connection through video lectures, postings onto the course website, and many regular conference calls. Here we gathered from around the world to complete a year long journey by making connections, forming networks, sharing projects, and daily lectures — all in an environment of celebration for the learning, the growth, and the graduation before returning home to discover what’s next.
For myself, I forged new friendships, was in awe over projects, bonded with my fellow teaching assistants, and planned next steps to continue living and sharing Positive Psychology. I came away full with an open heart of gratitude for my own embodiment of meaningful and positive living as well as encouraged in the knowing that Positive Psychology is truly spreading — a happiness revolution, as Tal Ben Shahar calls it, is underway!