What is happiness? Modern society wants you to believe that it appears magically when we lose 10lbs, close that promotion or get married with a hot banker. You may experience it when you finally slide into the seat of the convertible car you are coveting. Or maybe it happens when you can hold a headstand away from the wall.
When we attach our happiness to external sources, often projecting into the future, we lose the opportunity to experience happiness in the present moment. After all, we can never control what happens from here on out, the only thing that is certain is this very moment. By living in the future (or in the past), we lose the opportunity to be grateful for what we have at this moment, a body capable of functioning that works, that breathes, that has the capacity to embrace, kiss, laugh, cry. , express yourself through movement. And that, my friend, is a miracle when many people do not have that freedom.
Gratitude is a part, but how can we experience happiness when things really are not so attractive right now? What if life has done something really bad to us and we are struggling to be "happy"?
Happiness is a mental state, not an event or an object. A new dress does not make you happy, getting a new job does not make you happy. Think about it … we all know someone who seems to be happy even when they do not have a lot of money, or their car breaks down, or they face some kind of adversity. These people somehow accept that life is not always sun and rainbows, maybe they even find the "silver lining" in the cloud. They are happier because they understand that life is full of ups and downs and this is the duality of all life: yin and yang, light and dark, birth and death, and something that all animals understand on a deep level. The problem for us as humans is that we are socially conditioned so that everything is pleasant and comfortable all the time.
For me, it helps to understand that I want to be "comfortable". As human beings, we have created so many distractions to cure us of the natural and inevitable difficulties of life. We get lost in glossy magazines that sell idealistic images of what a "happy life" should be, we drown in reality TV shows and highly filtered Instagram accounts that often do not represent reality at all. We become addicted to alcohol or drugs, or we seek happiness in the arms of other people. I read an amazing quote today, from Victoria Eckerson, that says: "Do you feel a little shocked, maybe agitated, maybe fearful and doubtful and completely, absolutely, terribly terrified? Good. Keep going".
We spend our whole lives running away from the things that challenge us when, in fact, it is precisely the things that make us feel uncomfortable that give us the greatest opportunity to learn about ourselves and our employers. We thought that if only that person changed, or if this situation was not happening, then we would be happy. I'm sorry to tell you, but I can never control the outside world. You can not change the fact that your partner is a little fanatic of control or the fact that the dog is barking through your meditation. You can not change the neighbors who play music on Sunday mornings or the fact that you lost your job this week. When things happen in life that press your buttons or challenge you, you have two options: resist and flee or lean and listen. What is the lesson? How can I turn this into an opportunity to live in harmony with the world, to put aside my preconceived ideas and my judgments? Where am I focusing my energies?
Therefore, the next time a relationship brings emotional challenges or that job promotion is simply not happening, notice where your mind is going. Notice where frustrations and expectations arise. Let the challenges of life teach you about your patterns. The first step is attention, the next step is to practice letting go of those things and appreciate the miracle of each moment, each breath and how it feels to be alive. Being present teaches us the temporality of all things; sometimes it happens, sometimes not, sometimes it's up, sometimes it's down – c'est la vie
As we practice gratitude and acceptance at every moment, it begins to seep into all aspects of our existence. We become calmer, softer and more grateful for what we are and what we have now. And what a beautiful happiness that is.
One of our favorite ways to learn to practice gratitude and acceptance to help find that inner happiness is through the practice of meditation and mindfulness. YYou can start with our 11 day meditation and gratitude program on Food Matters TV. Start your test here.
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