Life lessons from dolphins

Matt and I spent the week of Christmas in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. The weather obliged, offering mostly-sunny skies and weather in the high 70’s.

We strolled the beach, rode bikes, read, and talked about our lives; all the things I classify as “Connect Deep.”

Where are the dolphins?

We remarked each day on our beach walks that we hadn’t see any dolphins yet, in contrast to their summer  behavior. We decided they must’ve gone out to the  warmer waters of the Gulf Stream.

As Matt packed the car on Sunday, I went down to the water one last time to reach my daily 10,000 step goal before the long car ride home.

They appeared as if on cue.

A pod of six

I’ve never seen dolphins come so close to the shore—twenty feet at most. The tide was out and the pod of six frolicked on the crests of the small waves, like children on the last day of school.

The pod included a mother and calf, and she taught it to take a back flip with the falling waves. My heart leapt!

Beachgoers sensed the pod’s presence, and came down to the water’s edge in shared delight. Sand castles could be built, kites could be flown, and books could be read later. This was a magic show.

I watched my fellow humans in their rapture, and it occurred to me that Nature is always putting on a show. Sometimes it’s as subtle as shapeshifting clouds. When’s the last time you laid on your back and watched them?

It also occurred to me that there are people with the personal magnetism to light up every room they enter, like these dolphins.

2016: Year of the dolphin

Then I wondered, is magnetism the thing that’s required? What if it could be something in our behavior that brings happiness to others?

What if we could each be counted on never to backbite? To always offer a kind word and a smile?

I began ruminating on the theme, “What would it take for 2016 to be my personal Year of the Dolphin?” To bring light to every room I enter?

It’s a worthy goal for 2016.

Granted, not everyone will respond to me as they would a pod of dolphins, but I’m not responsible for my reception, just my own behavior.

Life’s one choice

Last year I read Michael A. Singer’s recent books, and My Big Takeaway is what he says about choosing to be happy:

You really only have one choice in this life, and it’s not about your career, whom you want to marry, or whether you want to seek God…you can throw it all away and just make one basic, underlying decision: Do you want to be happy?

“He continues, “Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear.

Notice that he doesn’t say “easy.” He says, “clear.”

If you vow to choose happiness, Singer reminds us, “You just have to decide whether or not you will break your vow. When something is going well, it’s easy to be happy. But the moment something difficult happens it’s not so easy.”

Singer’s first book, The Untethered Soul, gives the theory for how to keep your vow to happiness. His second, The Surrender Experiment, he tells how he did it in the face of a federal indictment for white collar crime.

I’m choosing happiness for myself and wishing it for you this year.

I’d love to hear what you aspire to in 2016. Please comment with your news and aspirations.