January 14, 2014

I Just Want to be Happy, Dammit. ~ Nancy Gerstein

Why do we struggle with the concept of being happy, staying happy and sharing happy energy with friends and family?

Why do we feel entitled to happiness? And why in the world do we say things like “I have everything I always wanted—I should be happy, dammit!”

The answer to these questions could be in the remedy—a simple, attainable practice called The ABCs of Happiness. Stick with it and it promises a way out of the ‘should’ constriction by learning and living the yoga observance of santosha or contentment.

When we’re content with what is—according to the meaning of santosha—we consciously practice gratitude and joyfulness.

Santosha (San-TOE-shah) states that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be right now. I’m supposed to be writing this and you’re supposed to be reading this. All because we’re on a path towards happiness. Cool.

So how do we get from defective happiness entitlement (a.k.a. ‘spoiled brat syndrome’) to santosha?

Learn your ABCs.

A is for Attitude

Wake up. When we recognize our attitude, we’re alert to our emotional state and we automatically create awareness about the way we feel at any given moment.

This belief requires the knowledge that we have the capacity to change the plotline of our life even if we’ve been acting from the same self-fed bullshit for the last 20 years. Who we were then is not who we are today. A positive attitude is the key ingredient for anything we want to do or change (a clear vision doesn’t hurt either.)

Pop Quiz:

A positive attitude requires:

1. Training our thoughts to be encouraging and hopeful.

2. Allowing our thoughts to be the same negative ones we have day after day. (Wrong choice b.t.w.)

B is for Balance

Don’t sweat it—balance changes from moment to moment, day to day, year to year. Attaining balance is a tricky one—just when we think  the world is in harmony, things change. If this throws us out of balance we quickly lose touch with mind and body.

And this is huge.

Change is the ultimate guarantee in life, but it doesn’t have to push us spinning out of control. That is, not if we have the right attitude. Balance in our daily lives is acknowledging that what we’re doing right now is the right choice for what we need today. No more, no less.

Another way to look at it is by referencing the Buddhist practice of  the Middle Way, the path toward moderation in all things. ’Middle’ means not going to extremes. ’Way’ means practice.

When we work, sleep, eat or drink too much (or too little) we often find ourselves feeling bummed out and irritated. A classic case of imbalance.

A quick test for balance—answer this question:

What would a balanced day feel like today?

Then read “C is for Control” below and answer the question again.

C is for Control

Just to be clear for the control freaks, this means control what we can control. By focusing on the things we can control, real happiness is within reach. Plus when we practice control we get a big bonus—we experience the definition of ‘letting go’.

When that inexplicable, sad feeling creeps up again, try letting go of things that are out of your control. Feel better?

Step one in taking control of  life: memorize this control check list.

The Things That We Control


The Things We Don’t Control

Other people’s actions
Other people’s reactions
Divine Order

Life is too short and too miraculous an opportunity to choose to carry a heavy load—and when we do, let’s remember:

“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

~ Abraham Lincoln


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Assistant Editor: Sanja Cloete-Jones/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Shardayyy, Flickr

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