“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
–Teilhard de Chardin
The right to happiness may be as important as life and liberty, but most of us don’t really give it much thought. Do we even know what truly makes us happy – much less take action to cultivate it? Are we looking for happiness in all the wrong places? Is happiness an inherently selfish thing, or does true happiness lie in serving others?
The approach of the Leo timeframe – which encourages a focus on heart-centered pursuits – has had me contemplating questions like these. Clearly, it was time to re-read Gretchen Rubin’s excellent book, The Happiness Project. A married, Manhattan-based writer with two young children, Rubin was far from depressed. But she knew that she could be happier in just about every area of her life – so she devised a year-long project to up her game. From reining in her quick temper to starting a book club to decluttering her house, the steps Rubin took to boost her happiness (though often challenging) really worked. At the end of her project, she was amazed at how much happier and energetic she felt – and consequently, how much more she was able to give to others.
Rubin confided that she’d discovered some key truths in doing this project. The most important among them was to know herself, or to “Be Gretchen.” In other words, to pursue what actually made her happy, not what made others happy or what she thought should make her happy. This is a primary Leo teaching. The sign of individuality, Leo reminds us that, “Ain’t nobody happy till mama’s happy.” Or papa, as the case may be.
The upcoming New Moon (Sunday, July 23, 2:46 a.m. PDT) is at the very beginning of Leo, with the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse at the very end of that fiery sign. That’s a huge emphasis on lion-hearted matters! Also, both lunations are conjunct go-getter Mars in Leo. Cultivating vitality, passion and motivation will be key during this time, as we practice remaining centered and openhearted despite any anger or disruption around us. Though the next month or so can bring dramatic displays of pique and attempts to control others (especially near the Aug. 7 lunar eclipse and Aug. 21 solar eclipse), the Leo energy can also help us take a more playful and heart-centered approach to life. It’s time to cultivate radical happiness, and to find the courage to become our true selves.
Therefore, I am issuing a Happiness Challenge to anyone who would like to join me. Choose one (maximum two) areas of life in which you know you could be happier, then write down a few steps you will take, to bring you closer to your goal. This can be anything from calling a relative once a week or tithing a portion of your income to support animal welfare, to finding a new job or career. We’ll begin at the July 23 New Moon and go through the end of August. Try to not bite off more than you can chew (said the Lion); you can always continue the challenge with other areas of life after August is over.
Here are some questions from Rubin’s book to get you started:
- What makes you feel good? What activities do you find fun, satisfying, or energizing?
- What makes you feel bad? What are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, or anxiety in your life?
- Is there any way in which you don’t feel right about your life? Do you wish you could change jobs, cities, family situation, or other circumstances? Are you living up to your expectations for yourself? Does your life reflect your values?
- Do you exist in an atmosphere of growth? In what areas of your life do you find progress, learning, challenge, improvement, and increased mastery?
Once you’ve crafted a few resolutions you’re determined to stick with, post them at the July 23 New Moon on my AstroAlchemy Facebook page (you can post them sooner if you like). Light a red candle and speak your intentions out loud before posting. With so much fiery energy afoot and Mercury turning retrograde early next month, we’re bound to be tested on many levels. Yet the opportunity to purify and awaken our hearts is stronger than ever before.
Join Anna Celestino (my Cosmic Download cohort) and I on July 29 for our live event in San Diego on the life-changing August eclipses. A portion will be live-streamed for those located elsewhere; stay tuned for details on that!