professor, teacher, razor-sharp lucidity, radical pragmatism, source of creativity
What makes me happy. First of all, in order to answer what happiness means, one has to take the word „happiness" apart. There are things which make me feel amused, there are things which make me feel very content - speechless, tender, amazed...There are so many facets to this big word.
Reducing this question to moments without language, it's often scents that trigger childhood memories, for example the smell of a cornfield in summer or a haybale. When I become aware of a robin redbreast who approaches me, the buds of flowers presumed dead.
Extending the question into areas of tenderness and empathy, it is often children who are defenceless and oblivious, but also older people in their slowness and who are the mercy of someone or something. This feeling is more directed towards an emotion, which I would also consider as happiness, because one is becoming aware of being alive.
Those are the things which touch you the deepest. Atmospheric nature, the fleeting feeling of arriving at a home which in turn also reconnects you with the past.
Then of course, there is the concept of happiness that follows a red thread: a life full of contentment, a successful relationship. Those concepts of happiness are endangered every day and also can only be understood and experienced in the very moment.
Happiness for me is diversity, the gift of experiencing the unknown. To give in to a temptation - and as a result, having the feeling to have lived life to the full. For me, the great concept is to having had the opportunity to become who you are meant to be.
And happiness in regard to relationships: is to have experienced real love. ...which effectively is system of continous trap-doors, because this is how one thinks in every realtionship, but in retrospective, one realizes the differences between illusionistic, pragmatic relationships...
And relationships, that can lead you back to the greatness, which is love on every level. I was lucky to experience this and therefore consider myself a happy person. However this relationship is no longer existing, because the man has died.
Then there is the feeling of happiness when working, which perhaps could be called „flow". Which is again a different dimension, like when you are playing as a child and don't want to stop. This is maybe a more lasting feeling than the robin redbreast for example.
Happiness for me is a brief moment. Everything else I would call joy, which is already a different word.
Home is a huge term. Home can be: this uncontaminated, straightforward feeling that one had as a child when „school is over and you had the whole afternoon off"
A wunderful feeling of being at home with yourself without commitments, with an open timewindow, open to anything that might happen. This can be at the campsite, knowing that all I'll do is to watch the sea all afternoon or painting with watercolours or cooking or swimming...and and and. This is „being with myself" in a sense of „being at home".
Being at home is a feeling that even works for me while I'm looking into peoples livingroom windows with their candlelit christmas trees. It's an overriding theme completely unattached to a place. A feeling of cosiness, togetherness as a moment of life.
Being at home can also mean arriving somewhere where someone was waiting for you. Feeling welcomed is also a form of being at home, no matter where.
I also experience a certain type of being at home in relation to the order of things. When you are folding your trousers in the evening and putting them onto a specific chair, watering the flowers, making a fresh bed. Concerning yourself with simple, ever repeating rituals and routines. Like being familiar with existing things and your own relationship and responsibility towards them.
A very important and guiding experience during my life was to travel alone by myself. De facto the very first travel that I did on my own was when I was 19, where I also met my future husband, who I would marry 20 years later.
Travelling on your own is to completely free yourself from any safety nets, whilst being maximally open to the totally unexpected. Also, to be open-minded without any preconceptions – because with friends or company one always has to find a consensus.
This was a life changing, guiding turning-point.
What I'd like to mention secondly, relates to a lot of things during a specific age. I would summarize it as ‚self-efficacy'. At that age I realized, apart from travelling alone, that I am able to invent something, that I can make things happen and as a result that it is going to happen! Understanding this was astonishing. As opposed to travelling, where alot of impressions come towards you from the outside, self-efficacy is hailing from the opposite direction. As a child one is unconsciously always doing it: making your own plans and making them happen. The awareness that this is what the world is made of; that you make a decision and as a result something is evolving.
This has shown itself to me in a lot of different facets and it was an important jolt in my life, which is challenging me still; which I'm constantly aware of. Playfullness, responsibilities, but also always creating a new beginning and not „falling asleep".
Thirdly, what I experienced mainly in recent years is death. This is also a new pointer, to realize that not everything one does is just to pass time. It's like in Brahm's requiem, that „my life has a purpose and I must away". Becoming aware of the preciousness of life, that the meaning will only become clear in the moment one is aware of it. Through this, one is entering a whole new level of value creation. Nothing is really worth the discovery anymore, apart from perhaps mindfullness towards that what really is. This is a big challenge.
Heloisas question: What means self-love to you?
In my life I have experienced that the most reliable form of defining the self is in association through others. By this I don't mean opinions about me, but through encounters, exchange. Self-reflection without relation is...dangerous, because it is much more of an external assessment than a real connection. Because it is retrospective and is based on experiences that can be interpreted etc.
The self can only be experienced in the moment and therefore the realisation that the self is ever-changing is a most honest one. First of all self-love means having self-respect. Whereby love is also greatly related to respect. It is impossible to single out certain aspects because it is a wholistic experience of positive and negative aspects, which are inseparable. Respect is the wholistic aspect for me. Love is also wholistic, but these days it is often taken too lightly within our little hearts, though beautifully and positively.
I understand self-love and self-respect mostly in a sense of authenticity. This is how I can best relate to. When I experience myself during a moment of desiring something that I don't know yet and don't know what is yet to come. That is the moment during which I can connect with myself the most – but only through relation.
The second moment, which I like to mention, is a moment of playfullness, mostly in my studio – there I'm in relation with things, with something else, a sculpture or a drawing. I'm part of an intense dialogue and I completly forget myself, as if I'm having a mindful exchange with another human and by doing this I'm entirely at ease and with myself. This is a state of being is where „everything is alright". Everything else, for example, valueing something retrospectively or intentionally planning a personal development is not what I would call self-love or self-respect, because it is not an original state. The original state is something which is worthwhile returning to.
Diemut's question: What is the craziest thing you have ever done in your life?