“Your objective in this life is to be happy with what you have.”
~ Jonathan Ramirez
I used to think “happy” was an overrated and subjective emotion. I would experience happiness only when circumstances in my life were pleasing to me. I spent many years looking for happiness in people, work and material things.
My entire life changed when I learned about Santosha, or the practice of contentment. It changed my perspective on life, and I found that happiness is a constant flow of energy I can live in. I can be happy.
For me, gratitude is relative to contentment and contentment to happiness. Because of this, I have a deep sense of satisfaction with where I am and gratitude for what I have. How did I get here?
First, I identified thought patterns and ways of thinking that were destructive to experiencing happiness now.
When we say to ourselves, “I will be happy when (fill in the blank),” this signals some sort of discomfort in the present moment, and we envision an escape to Happy Land when our needs are met. When we see happiness in the future and tether it to a specific idea or thing, it keeps us from being happy now. We are choosing not be happy, but instead to suffer until we have our needs met, much like a two-year-old.
I’ve learned that we do not have to wait for a particular need to be met in order to be happy in the moment. It’s first a choice, then a state of being. So, I was happy in a moment. Then, it would go away. Why would I lose that happy feeling? I decided I wanted to be happy now and all the time. This led me to the second step.
I stopped searching for happiness.
I decided that happiness was not an elusive “thing” I needed to acquire like other stuff. It was a way of living. I realized that my search for happiness needed to start here, in and around me.
Being a resourceful gal, I thought, “I can use what I have to be happy.” To make the mental shift from granted to gratitude, the little things must become significant. Accommodations can become familiar and without actively appreciating them every day, we begin to lose awareness as to how much we have. We can start to take things for granted that we are accustomed to like running water, electricity and a pair of shoes. We may think, “It’s normal to have these things; it’s a birthright,” or “These are necessities!”
So, without awareness and gratitude, the familiar things begin to depreciate, and we may continue to search for happiness elsewhere, seeking instant gratification to fill the happy-void.
Instead of searching, I sat back, observed and examined the finer details that are often overlooked and underappreciated as part of everyday life.
I became aware of all I had. Then, gratitude became my gateway to happiness.
In order to live in this constant state of being happy, I transform each singular event into a significant event with a sense of gratitude. The accumulation of these significant moments gains momentum and creates a constant state of flowing energy—a state of being happy.
By practicing the steps above, I eliminated the thought, “I will be happy when (blank).” Now, I am happy, not just now, not tomorrow, but all the time. It is an “I am” statement. I am happy.
I know that truly, I am living in this state of constant gratitude and appreciation, and it is my legacy. I extend love and light to you as well. Searching for happiness as this “thing” apart from us, and looking for happiness in external sources can become a vicious cycle.
Happiness is in us and all around us. Please, don’t wait to be happy. Happy is not a check in the mail, a vacation, a new car or where you live. It is how you live combined with recognition and gratitude for what you have.
Special thanks goes out to my Godmother Lois for telling me years ago, “It is not where you live, it is how you live.”
Skila began practicing yoga in 2002 as a healthy alternative to prescription drugs for pain management stemming from a car accident. After several years of practicing with many respected yoga instructors and attending several clinics, she became a certified yoga teacher. Yoga has not only given her a healthy way to manage chronic back and neck pain but has also aided her in body acceptance and helper her to maintain a healthy body-weight (she has lost 50 pounds and kept it off for over 10 years). Skila teaches various styles of yoga and several specialty courses. A professional in her field, her certifications and trainings include: 500E-RYT, NASM Personal Trainer, ACE and AFAA group exercise, Silver Sneakers, PilatesFit, Kids In Motion, and more. Her knowledge of diverse training methods compliments her yoga practice.
Editor: Sara McKeown