When do you feel most alive?

This life we are living is such a precious gift. It is the result of one in a gazillion sperm cells finding that one egg at just the right time, yielding…You! There was probably another sperm swimming neck-and-neck right with your winning sperm, and if the other sperm had won, you would not be here. Someone else, maybe kind of like you, would be here. By the time we become grown-ups, we have developed ideas about what makes us happy. Most of us, myself included, find out through lots of suffering that the things we thought would make us happy are not really doing it for us. I won’t slow down here to enumerate all those things.

For those of us on a path of mindful exploration, we are sometimes fortunate to find simplicity. What really makes us happy is simple. The gifts are found in the present moment. An experience of kindness in someone’s eyes. Feeling someone respond to the kindness in our eyes. The laughter of a child. Or pretty much the laughter of anyone. The feeling we get when we are able to help someone without any expectation of return. Feeling a real connection with someone, beyond words. Maybe just a touch, maybe more. Maybe the dance of energy that happens when we consciously merge in union. You know what I mean. A child’s first words, first steps. A song that brings us tears of joy. Someone telling you that they love you, just as you are, no matter what. Feeling the truth of their love in every cell of your body.

Then there are moments when we KNOW that our lives are passing through the eye of a needle. Something is being said or done that we know is changing our lives forever. A marriage proposal. A breakup. A birth. A death. Being hired. Being fired. Being told we have cancer. Being told we are in full remission. Being told our child is in full remission. We must be present in the moment to notice and be brought fully alive when life happens. Our gratitude amplifies these moments and increases their frequency. Whether the moment is judged as joyful or full of suffering, we can still be grateful for the gift, for the fact that the one sperm won.

As we look back on this waning year, find the juice. Find the times when you felt most alive. And celebrate.