Lately, I find that the word happiness comes across as being muddied by too many headlines blurs telling us things like: “all you have to is: be happy.”
Is it? and if yes how can I do it?
It’s like the word LOVE. If it falls out of your mouth without a connection to your heart, it’s missing the power to heal yourself and your listener. Faked happiness does the same. If behind the facade, you are struggling to give your life lasting meaning without the action step necessary to create it, it will make you miserable. You might look at the word happiness with a smirk as if happiness belongs to a certain type of chosen people.
A friend pointed out to me that she cannot always be happy. She said: “if I try to be happy all the time where would I hide the hard feelings, the sadness, the anger, the unhappiness?”
How I understand true happiness comes from my lifelong commitment to the practice of yoga and the mindful life connected to it. Yoga on the mat can be blissful and rewarding but also testing and very challenging. Just like day to day life.
I am not about to hide when life sucks. But at the end of the day, I remember that no matter what I will cultivate the feeling of contentment which in turn allows me to be happy with what is.
Happiness on my mat and in my life exists at the very moment when I notice my frustration, my pain, my dark side and react with kindness instead of rejection or disappointment.
It’s not easy. But it’s possible. It’s a daily practice.
If your answer to the question:
“Do you want to be happy?” is yes but it’s startled by a but-if you’re tying your happiness to your circumstances.
There cannot be any ifs, ands or buts attached to it. It’s not a question of whether your happiness is under your control. Of course, it is! No qualifying needed. If we can only be happy when x y and z are in place, we missed the boat.
I have many reasons to give up on being happy, and I am sure you do too. But I refuse.
Yoga taught me to pause and to practice self-reflection and self-love. I am deeply grateful for that. Rarely have I stepped off my yoga mat without feeling grounded in my world and intensely aware of what is going on. It’s not all about me. It’s about my connection to everything around me. What I think, say or not say and how I act or not act.
I can wholeheartedly say practicing yoga reminds me to stand in my truth and as a result, I step off my mat and can say: “I am happy.”
In this groundedness, I can look my humaneness in the eye. I catapult the problematic feelings to the surface like today when I lost it with my daughter. Again. She triggers me like no other. Of course, she is the person I am most passionate about in my life. And the one who needs my support.
It doesn’t help my feeling of self-worth that she is special. She sees and understands the world differently. Her neediness coupled with her brilliance can drive me into despair. How can I lose it with her? It’s by far the most painful emotion I know.
In the moments when the sky turns dark, and I feel crushed to the ground Yoga has taught me to re-bounce, to find my breathe and move on. And reaffirm my commitment to find happiness on the other side of fear.
I am keeping Pema Chodron’s words:
Fail, fail again, fail better
as a mantra in my imaginary back pocket. It works.
I collect quotes. I still love the first quote I put on my wall back in 1999 when we moved to California.
Happiness is a how; not a what.
A talent, not on object.
by Hermann Hesse
I am the witness to this process. We learn what happiness is through understanding that:
It is a choice!