Are we afraid to just be happy?

relaxed frog

There are so many ‘happiness solutions’ out there today – from books to seminars to pills – promising that joy is just a spend away. We all want happiness as if it’s something that we have to save up to buy or earn.

In fact, I had a conversation with a mentor recently about finding peace through sacrifice. She looked at me as if I’d lost my mind, “What?”

“I mean, there are so many people that need so much and I can help. I feel selfish if I’ve got some downtime and I’m not using it to help someone in need or contribute in some way,” I said, “I mean if I want to be a truly spiritual person, shouldn’t I always be looking at how I can be of service? Look at Buddha, Jesus, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, and everyone else who sacrifices themselves for others.”

She looked at me, and said, “We can’t all be Jesus.  And, I think that you doing things that bring you joy (whatever that is) brings joy to everyone around you.  And that joy ripples through everything you’re connected to.”

And there it was in my face. I realized that I was afraid to just do things that made me happy for fear that I was being less of a spiritual being.

We work so hard to achieve happiness, and yet, it’s always with us. Peace isn’t something that we have to earn by suffering, it’s there in spite of suffering.  We’re living longer and yet, don’t live much at all.

To quote George Carlin, “We’ve added years to life not life to years.”

Do you have to stop ‘giving back’? No.  But you can be of service in so many ways without sacrificing your own health and happiness.

No matter how someone approaches me or what they ask, I try to think to myself, “How can I be helpful?”

Sometimes that means I stop what I’m doing, and help carry something heavy for my neighbor, help a friend, or donate money or time.

And sometimes being helpful to others starts with being helpful to yourself first.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Wikimusiquita)

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All that matters is right now [Video]

Anyone who knows me, knows that I tear up often, tears cleanse the soul.  My real soft spots are acts of human kindness and reunions.  Extreme Homemaker over caused a boon in Kleenex sales at my home when the show first aired.  And, just about any kind of reunion will have me in a puddle– especially military reunions.    What I love about reunions is that for a moment, we experience pure presence.  There’s no past or future, just the blissful now.

Here are a few videos of some military reunions and amazing animal reunions that will touch even the most resistant heart. Even you don’t cry easily, you may find yourself getting joyfully teary as you empathize with the happiness of these families.

Soldier surprises family at USC football game

Soldier surprises daughter on her 6th birthday

School creates ‘mock’ spelling bee for soldier reunion

Anita and the Wolves

Military reunions with man’s best friend

“The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” -John Vance Cheney

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

If you’re happy and you know it, just sit there

woman happy yoga

“You are already happy. The reason you don’t experience it is that it’s covered up by layers of suppressed emotions and negative thoughts. Shift your attention and your inherent happiness flashes forth.” – Steve Ross The other day, I had … Continue reading

Sometimes, you just have a crap week

woman with an umbrellaOn a scale of one to un-fun, this week has been less than bright and sunny.   Between the ebb and flow of stress at work and dear friends experiencing loss and disappointment, this has not been the kind of week you celebrate.  Or, is it?

I’ve talked before about gratitude, and the stark reminders the universe often sends our way to be grateful for what we have.   This week was one of those reminders.   Several friends experienced the loss of loved ones unexpectedly, and another saw a dream slip away.  It made the horrible situation that I was dealing with at work seem quite trivial in comparison.  Yet, for all of us, the emotional pain was quite real.

How we cope with disappointment, loss and unexpected stress is a good indicator of whether or not we understand what it means to experience joy — even when current circumstances are extremely unpleasant.    Many people want to run away from pain, because, well, it’s pain.  It’s not fun or enjoyable.   I used to run away from pain with a glass of wine, or a daily dose of whatever the anti-depressant was for the moment, but the pain was still there.    I just chose to ignore it, not face it.   That shifted when I dedicated myself to finding joy.  My path happened to be through yoga.  Even so, everyone still has moments when we want to bury our head in the sand and pretend the day or week never happened.

This week, I’ve witnessed true beauty in seeing friends face their pain head on, sit with it, acknowledge it, and move through it.   And, in an attempt to continue to live the path I’ve chosen, and out of deference to my friends who are facing their loss with grace, I too resisted the temptation to succumb to the darkness of apathy and resistance.    Despite all the good in their lives, there are people everyday who are suffering.   And, yet, as trite and Pollyanna as it may seem, there is something good that can come of the suffering if you’re willing to open your eyes.

Sometimes in life, the greatest joy is only accessible after experiencing the deepest grief.   Today, April 21st, 2012.  There are two funerals, two heartaches and much loss.  And, there is also new life.   There are three babies turning one today.   There’s a baby on her way here in two weeks, and new love is finding it’s way.  Even less romantically poetic, we are here.  We are breathing, living, reading, blogging, loving, grieving, supporting, thriving, being.

Today is also a new moon.  A time for rebirth, renewal and starting over.  Set an intention today to be grateful that you are here, that you are loved, and remember why you get up every day and who is important to you.  Appreciate little things like no bills in the mailbox, a smile from a stranger or the sun peeking out of the clouds.    It WILL illuminate the darkness.

This post is for my beautiful friends Pam, Katie, Rob, Antonio, Nancy and Collette and everyone else who had just a crap week.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Live your unhappiness?

Everyday, I see blog posts, twitter updates, articles, videos, websites, etc. dedicated to finding happiness. We’ve actually begun to place so much pressure on ourselves to find happiness, that we’re making ourselves unhappy.

Happiness is an emotional state, something we feel as a result of some superficial event. Now, I’m not trivializing those things in our life that make us feel good, but rather suggesting that they are fleeting. And, if we’re constantly chasing that feeling, we become happiness tweakers.

Joy, on the other hand, is born of the heart and is always there. We just need to open ourselves up to accepting it into our lives. Seems like a semantic argument, right? Maybe.

“So, wait, are you saying I should wallow in pity, depression and unhappiness?”

Nope. What I’m saying is that we should let the circumstances that come in and out of our lives just be as they are without allowing them to create any type of turbulence — positive OR negative.

Think about a time when you were in a relationship, and you allowed someone’s existence to dictate your happiness. We’ve all done it. Significant other calls = happy. Significant other mistreats us = unhappy.

This relationship dynamic is metaphor for our larger addiction to feeling good due to external influences. I remember seeing a quote that said something to the effect of, “Joy is a condition of spirit that so fills my being, that no amount of happiness or unhappiness can cast it out.”

Still, I’m not saying that you should disregard those things or people in your life that bring you emotional happiness, but bring awareness to your attitude and reaction.

Do you easily get caught up in negativity if something doesn’t quite go your way? Do you allow negative thoughts to occupy your mind, or do you think positively and encourage lovingly rather than acting harshly?

Be mindful of self-judgement when posing these questions. It’s a difficult concept to grasp that Joy exists outside the emotional realm.

“Sometimes your JOY is the source of your
smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your JOY.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness and unhappiness are something that we can achieve. Achieve equating with mind, judgement and future. Joy is something that we are, it is presence, it is everywhere.

” The final step in the eight-fold path of Yoga is the attainment of Samadhi. Samadhi means “to bring together, to merge.” In the state of samadhi the body and senses are at rest, as if asleep, yet the faculty of mind and reason are alert, as if awake; one goes beyond consciousness. During samadhi, we realize what it is to be an identity without differences, and how a liberated soul can enjoy pure awareness of this pure identity. The conscious mind drops back into that unconscious oblivion from which it first emerged.” – William Doran.

This is union

This is Joy

Be mindful of how you treat others and yourself. Live a truthul, non-violent existence. Meditate. Just Be.

Ananda.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo credit: Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability