Happiness is defined as : a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.
Seems pretty straight forward to me. Take a minute here, close your eyes, try to remember a time when you felt content, love, satisfied. Did any of those moments that came to mind have anything to do with gaining material stuff? How about, gaining money? Ummm.... probably not.
When I closed my eyes and thought about times when I felt content, love, or satisfied, what came to mind were moments spent with my family and close friends. Moments when I was totally engaged in doing something that I love.
A friend recently reminded me that happiness is different for everyone. That may be true but, in my humble opinion, there are some basic things that make all of us happy. Love, security, close relationships, contentment. We all know that don't we? We know that when we are doing something we love we're happy.
Can you feel happy when you are dealing with a difficult, stressful situation? How do you maintain a sense of happiness during those times of challenge? If we take a look into our yoga tool box, I bet we could find some tools to help us.
Yoga has taught me that during difficult situations, I can still feel happiness. For me, happiness = contentment. I feel content in the knowledge that the situation that I am facing is only temporary. My situation, however difficult, does not define who I am. Remember? We are not our bodies, We are not our minds....... In the same way, we are not our emotions.....
Happiness, just like all our other emotions, begins in our minds. We can change our minds therefore, we can choose to change our emotions. Imagine that you are having a really lousy day. Maybe you're thinking that happiness is just an illusion. Like trying to touch the horizon, what can you do? Step back from those emotions for a second. Observe them. Now shift your focus to how you're breathing. Begin to take a few slow, deep, yogic breathes. Now from this place of observation see that you're not those emotions. You are okay. It's difficult to step back from our emotions especially when we are facing serious adversity. I struggle with stepping back from my emotions every day. However, each time we do, even if we don't succeed, we are strengthening our resolve. It's important to try this exercise of stepping back from your emotions as often as possible so that during times when our emotions are running high we can use this yogic tool more easily.
Happiness is a choice. Right now, and in every now moment, you are choosing. How does your choice feel?