The Time to be Happy is Now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is through helping others. Robert G. Ingersoll
It’s that simple, the secret is, if you can’t find what you’re looking for right here, then where will you find it?
Take it from me, as I was that searcher and seeker from am early age. I remember eating the altar rails at Clonard Monastery as a child to rid me of the anxiety that I was experiencing. Anxiety was a polite way to say that I was terrified, filled with fear and looking for help.
It was never 'now' for me. I didn’t know what ‘now’ meant. I remember during my training as a therapist being told, "bring it into the now". I was puzzled as to what 'now' meant as I was aware that 'now' was different to different people at different times.
That’s what put me on the journey to discover 'now'. I had a wonderful therapist mentor called Eamon McCreave, based in Benburb Priory. He also had an office in Twin Spires on the Lower Falls. In his office was the poster that read:
The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is through helping others.
Every time I visited Eamon, I couldn’t help myself from gazing at that poster and etching those words in my heart.
THE WIDER CIRCLE
Eamon was a larger than life character. He was a Servite Brother who had served in different parts of the world before retiring to Belfast where he taught counselling and psychotherapy at Queen’s University. He also founded a therapeutic group called The Wider Circle, a group that worked with trauma.
Eamon spoke about trauma in the 80s when the word trauma was unheard of. He taught me that the anxiety I was experiencing was trauma.
He was known up in Stormont back then as 'the mouse with the roar of a lion'. Eamon could read me like a book and I loved my weekly visits even though they were extremely challenging.
One who knows does not speak; /— Daily Tao Te Ching (@dailyTaoTeChing) August 27, 2021
One who speaks does not know. /
Block the openings; /
Shut the doors. /
Blunt the sharpness; /
Untangle the knots; /
Soften the glare; /
Let your wheels move only along old ruts. /
Something magical happened in that office. Each week I was able to take off my armour of defence which, as Eamon pointed out, was very heavy for me to carry around with me all the time.
Each week that I visited him, I felt safer and safer and was able to peel off the layers of armour that I had accrued over the years as a way of protecting wee Frankee.
People like Eamon have a presence that lets you know that you are safe, that softens that hard shell of pride and ego that always echoes, "I’m okay even when we are not okay".
It was Eamon, who taught me that it was good to talk, who allowed me the opportunity to talk about my fears, my anxiety and most of all my hurt.
He oozed compassion and you knew that you were being listened to and you felt that you were not alone and that someone understood you. What a relief it is to be truly heard and understood.
Eamon told me of his suffering, pain and hurt and taught that it was okay to cry. He showed me how to re-parent my self; that all I was looking for was within me and that I had to start giving myself that which I was longing for.
He highlighted the importance of self-care and insisted I start to look after myself. I learned how to integrate the good and the not-so-good within me. Starting with being able to forgive myself — and the way to forgive myself was to forgive everybody and everything who had ever hurt me.
Another poster that I remember was on the office wall read:
Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success of failure: which is more destructive?
If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realise there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
It’s always now and it’s what we do with this moment opens the next moment. Then we discover that what we are looking for, we are looking with. As they say in AA, you’ve got to give it away in order to keep it.
Eamonn told me that his teacher told him that he had only three things to teach: Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are the greatest treasures. Simple in action and thoughts, you return to the source of being. The act of generosity is the gift that keeps on giving.
Try it and see for yourself.