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To be (happy) or not to be…

Uncategorized Aug 21, 2018

To be (happy) or not to be…

Whether we are happier in the pursuit than in the act of being...that truly is the question.

           Why do so many people spend their life chasing after happiness and never quite find it? The Declaration of Independence expresses every citizen’s right to: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," implying that happiness is something that must be chased.   I believe our birthright is to be happy.

           We have all been conditioned by the media to look outside ourselves for happiness as if our happiness was dependent on “things” and events. And the endless chase begins with the conditions we establish for achieving happiness:

  • When I have that healthy and fit body, then I will be happy.
  • When I have that perfect relationship or ideal career, then I will be happy.
  • When I have more money, more time, more…fill in the blank, then I will be happy.

           It seems that most people will chase the escalating promises of happiness right to their grave. The ancient sages and yogis taught that true happiness is found inside a person, and is not dependent on any outside circumstance. Every day when we wake up we face two choices: to be happy or not to be. You create your reality. Other people’s behavior and action(s) are out of your control. It may have an impact on your reality but how you meet what is happening in your life and how you meet yourself within the situation is everything. It creates the reality you experience. It all comes down to the choices you make.

Everything that is happening in your life is there to give you a deeper experience of your self-worth, your compassion and your capacity to love unconditionally.

           Being happy requires daily practice and just like a muscle, the more we exercise, the stronger and easier it will get. Yoga and meditation practices are excellent tools to awaken and strengthen the elusive sense of well-being from the inside out. It allows us to become less dependent on external circumstances in order to feel good about ourselves and life in general. Yet external events and the busyness of life pull us away and make it hard for us to take the time to tend to our inner well-being. Practicing slow deep breathing offers us the opportunity to access the quiet space within where we can truly get to the deeper knowing of who we are and learn to embrace ourselves and others unconditionally. It offers us the internal space to feel more connected to our passion and joy for life and the journey.

           Another tool I always come back to is “gratitude.” Don’t we all want to feel good and excited about our lives? To be able to jump out of bed in the morning, looking forward to the day ahead? Here’s a reminder of an easy daily exercise that can help. Do this upon waking, before you even get out of bed:

  • While still in bed (lying or sitting up), make gentle fists with your thumbs tucked inside your closed hands.
  • For a few seconds, squeeze your thumbs and put a big smile on your face (fake it ‘til you make it!).
  • Then relax your fists and begin to think about the things you are grateful for in your life right now.
  • For each thought, open one finger, until you have both hands open. It’s okay to repeat the same thing more than once if you can’t come up with 10 things. I’ll give you one to start with: “I am grateful for waking up this morning.” Some days you may need to repeat the same 2 or 3 things over and over, other days you will run out of fingers!
  • As you lay or sit with your palms open and a relaxed smile still on your face, take a few more slow deep breaths while enjoying this feeling of gratitude. Let it fill your whole body.
  • Then, while laying on your back, put your feet and hands up in the air (if you can) and shake them vigorously for as long as you can. (Try to last at least 30 seconds) Laughing is definitely allowed and encouraged!

If you repeat this exercise every time you start to feel grumpy or gloomy, you’ll see how your life starts to shift from the pursuit of happiness to the joy of actually feeling happy. I should warn you that this condition is contagious!

Remember to take time to breathe, laugh often and En-Joy.

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