“Happiness is what greases the wheels of life. It’s also what opens the floodgates, marshals the forces, commands the elements, raises the sun, aligns the stars, beats your heart, heals what hurts, turns the page, makes new friends, finds true love, calls the shots, waves the wand, connects the dots, feeds your mind, frees your soul, rocks the world, and pays compound interest.
Yeah, so easy to forget.
This was my email from The Universe this morning. happiness: something that is easy to forget, yet easy to choose.
We’ve been having a typical Chicagoland spring with days of brilliant sun mixed with freezing days of snow and sleet. as I drove to the yoga studio yesterday morning the sun was shining gloriously after a Saturday of gloomy clouds and rain, cold enough for me to start my fireplace. as I drove I thought that even though the day before was exactly the type of weather I hate, how wonderful it was to experience everything that this life has to offer. I was grateful, I had an attitude of gratitude by the time I reached the studio.
Sometimes unpleasant things can teach us greater lessons more so than the pleasant. I am still dealing with an eye problem, still dealing with (sometimes) excrutiating lower back pain, still dealing with the remnants of rage left over from the actions of an alcoholic yoga studio owner.
yet, I am grateful. despite the eye problem, I am not blind in one eye. despite the back pain, it is not constant and I can still do a strong yoga practice and still teach. I know in my bones that my back pain is a manifestation of the rage I felt over the betrayal I experienced at the yoga studio where I used to teach. after deep examination I’ve come to know that the rage is actually against myself for allowing myself to be affected so deeply by the actions of others. I’ve beat myself up for not “letting go and letting be.” but that realization is a way through it and out of it. it’s all good, every day is a gift.
The Buddha believed that our natural state is happiness. As Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche writes:
“We need to seriously investigate whether people who have fame, power, and wealth are happy and whether those who have nothing are always unhappy. When we look into this, we see that happiness is not based on objects but on one’s mental state. For that reason, those who are truly happy are the ones who appreciate what they have. Whenever we are content, in that moment, we are fulfilled. The teachings of the Buddha are common sense.
On one hand, it’s very simple: we are all searching for happiness. How do we become happy without a big effort? Whenever we appreciate what we have, we are happy. That effort is an intelligent technique. We might have a very simple life, but still we can think, This flower is lovely or This water is good. If we are too picky, thinking this is wrong and that’s wrong, then nothing is ever perfect. We need to learn how to be content so that whatever we have is precious, real, and beautiful. Otherwise, we might be chasing one mirage after another.”
In Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield wrote:
“When the mind ceases to want and judge and identify with whatever arises, we see the empty flow of experience as it is. We come to a ground of silence and inherent completeness. When we stop struggling and let be, the natural wisdom, joy, and freedom of our being emerges and expresses itself effortlessly….
To come to this we must accept paradox. As T.S. Eliot beseeches, ‘teach us to care and not care.’ In meditation we learn to care with full-hearted attention, a true caring for each moment. Yet we also learn to let go. We do not separate out only those experiences we enjoy, but cultivate a sense of harmony, opening constantly to the truth within us and connecting with all life.”