Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Finding our way to Happy

Don’t worry; be happy. Sounds simple, right? But happiness has been eluding mankind since the beginning of time, or at least since the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that we had the right to pursue it! And so, like an old-fashioned Easter egg hunt, we all scurried off to find it. And no matter how many eggs we found, there was always someone who found that extra egg, the golden egg, or the one filled with chocolate or money. And then, suddenly, all of our pretty pastel eggs just seemed to dim in comparison.

It seems that we may have the word happy confused with the word perfect. For many of us, it seems that in order to be happy, things must be in perfect order. We must have the perfect relationship, the perfect house and the perfect career. But this is where the road to happiness can cause our vehicle to break down, when it collides with perfection and expectation, the mortal enemies of happy.

The main principal of the Chinese I-Ching is that everything changes. This is the natural and universal law. Our moods and emotional state are not exempt from this law. When you study the Yin/Yang principal and their energetic polarities, you learn that everything has an opposite, that you can’t have the light without the dark, soft without the hard, and you definitely can’t have the happy without the occasional sad. Resisting change and trying desperately to stay the same is what causes us pain, discomfort and unhappiness. Learning to flow and adapt to what is before us in the moment is how we come to arrive at a place of peace, a place of happiness. So is it really happiness that we should be in pursuit of or the state of contentment, satisfaction and peace?

They say that true happiness lies within, at the very core of our being. But for many of us, we don’t know how to begin this journey and feel we need a roadmap to find our treasure. And we’ve all seen the map. It consists of things like meditation, exercise, bubble baths, golden puppies and happy children. But like happiness itself, this road map needs to be customized.

Just as important as the food we put into our mouths, is the food we feed ourselves in the form of healthy relationships, our career or path in life, physical activity, our connection to nature and a spiritual practice. Knowing the path you are meant to be on, which is simply finding your passion, being true to yourself, and trying to put into practice the suggestions below, for me, is definitely the path that can lead to happiness (or contentment):

Let go of expectations. This is a difficult one, because we all usually have some intended outcome that we want to see happen. But try not to get stuck on any one particular outcome. Be open to what comes your way.

Trust. In the universe or trust in your God. Trust that life was given to you to live, fully.

Gratitude. Look at your life in smaller segments.  Everything might not be going great in every life area, but if you break it down, you will find there are lots of things to be grateful for. When we are grateful, when we consider life itself to be a blessing, we can’t help but feel happy.

Be Present. On too many occasions, we wait for the right time and the right circumstances. We fall into the “as soon as I” syndrome. When I think of how much time and enjoyment I have wasted while waiting for things to be “right,” it’s almost a sin

Know that this too, shall pass. Nothing lasts forever. Unfortunately, not the good, and luckily, not the bad

Forgiveness. Anger and resentment only hurt the person bearing this poison. They do not harm the object of our anger. Give yourself a gift and let it go.

Passion. Find something you love to do, and, as Nike says, just do it.  Even if you only take baby steps, just take that first step. If you feel there is nothing that truly interests you, reach back in your memory bank. As a child, what did you love to do? There is always some connection between the interests that we had as a child and what we would be passionate about doing as adults.

Acceptance. Explore the subject of Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese philosophy that finds beauty and acceptance in all things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Once we can accept that life is full of imperfections and that they too are beautiful and of no less value, we can relax our grip on the reins of perfection, expectations and outcomes. When we accept that change is inevitable, that this is the way, the law of nature, then life becomes easier. We can then get in and flow with the current instead of always struggling to swim upstream.