Like many, I’ve spent years pouring my energy into the future. I have hoped for a future that will bring money, or love, or the perfect body. But the true commodity is not the sum in the bank account, a long lasting relationship or the number on the scale. These are not the things I am truly chasing. What I truly desire is a feeling of contentment and, if I may be so bold, happiness.
There is a word that many yogis and yoginis use: equanimity. How can I find a place of balance in the face of so much change and volatility? Being a natural born down-player, a cup-half-empty type of gal from the get-go, I actually NEED to counteract the negativity with positivity. I have to counterbalance the darkness with massive amounts of light to find that place of calm in the middle.
There have been several times in my life when I was faced with what I call “a clean sweep” from the Universe. A break-up, plummeting finances, my body giving out, the loss of a loved one, a move—maybe even all at once. At times, my life has fallen down like a line of dominos; there was no foundation to rely on. Although the natural inclination is to curse myself with shame or get mad at God (or anyone in front of me), the true gold comes when I stop focusing outward and look to myself, to find my way to happiness.
Easier said than done? True. But what if losing is not the worst thing in the world? Perhaps there will be an outcome beyond what you could imagine. If I were truly happy, would it matter if I were wealthy? If I were wealthy would that make me happy?
By taking a few long deep breaths, and expressing daily gratitude for my gifts, waking up, and acting as if I have all the money, all the love, and the perfect body I may just act my way into that happiness I am seeking. As the saying by Abraham Lincoln goes: “I am as happy as I decide to be.” (Incidentally, he is said to have struggled with depression).
The beauty of this life is that I am in a body that takes care to maintain. It is free to exercise, to breathe, to practice yoga, to walk on the beach, to smile, to have a conversation, to read uplifting words, to feel love, to weep, to pet an animal, to lend a hand. This life is an absolute beauty. I wake up and think: Another day on this beautiful Earth. I am beyond grateful to share this beautiful planet in this gift of a body with all of you. And just for today, I am going to act exactly the way I think I would feel if I had it all. And for this day I do have it all.
There are many intentional actions in my book Yogalosophy For Inner Strength that can help you to embrace joy. Here are my top five ways to get happy:
1. CREATE SPACE. Scheduling time for just you will make room for magical things to happen. Take nature walks, or meditate. When you open up some room in the day, small synchronicities can make you hugely happy.
2. MOVE IN NEW WAYS. Your body is an amazing gift. Not only will daily movement increase your happiness hormones, when you move differently, you become more present and feel the pleasure your body brings. Stretch with yoga. Dance. Jump on a trampoline. Get creative and play!
3. DECIDE TO BE HAPPY. Your life is a gift, and your circumstances, as hard as they may be in the moment, will bring you closer to your inner strength. Even the most challenging lessons contain within them great benefits.
4. BE KIND TO OTHERS. A smile. A hug. Listening to a friend or stranger in need. These acts of kindness build self-esteem and have been proven to benefit the giver.
5. TAKE INTENTIONAL ACTIONS. Happiness is 40 percent intentional action. That means there are activities you can do to raise your happiness quotient. Being creative through painting, or by writing yourself a love letter, may seem childish, but they can conjure the exact state of mind that will bring happiness.