Why we need Islands of Happiness and how do we create them?

A photo of a Spanish Greyhound lying on a blanket. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

We walk our neighbors' dog sometimes, or well, usually my family does. She looks like the dog in the image above. Every time I see her, something comes undone within me. Her movements are so elegant and poetic, they look like those of trained dancer.

A few weeks back I saw her walk into the shrubs and then daintily retrace her steps when she found some thorns . This memory is an island of happiness within me - a concept I learned from Peter Levine, a psychologist and a biophysicist, who founded Somatic Experiencing.

An island of happiness and ease is a place, a person, or a memory or an imagined scene, or a place within our body where we feel/felt happy, safe and at ease.

In his course on Healing Trauma, Peter talks about using islands of happiness or ease within us as resources for healing from traumatic experiences.

I liked the idea of accessing and feeling islands of happiness within us even beyond the healing sessions - in everyday moments.

  1. At any moment in your day, or when you are feeling anxious or stressed or under duress, pay attention to how/where it shows up in your body.
  2. And then think of your Island of happiness, and observe how/where it shows up in your body.

In this way, you interrupt the constricted thinking & feeling and embody relaxed thinking & feeling in that moment, creating more space within.

For example, I was stressed about getting something right today and my whole body and mind were feeling “constricted”. When I switched to thinking about that moment of the dog walking in and out of the bushes, my whole body felt relaxed and spacious and this is beautiful.

This is all for today, I wish you many islands of happiness :),

Thank you for reading,