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Cultivating Happiness

August 7, 2010

In my yoga classes, the instructor usually tells a story of some sort that he or she then relates to yoga. Sometimes those stories seem way off base to me (or at least not relevant at that particular moment) and other times, it seems like the instructor is speaking to me and me only. Like that story or message was meant for nobody but me. And sometimes the story just reinforces something I’ve already been thinking about in general. Lately, I have been thinking/reading about cultivating happiness in my life. Of course along with that goes living in the present moment and letting go of past grudges. Letting go of the idea that as soon as I get that perfect job/car/house/outfit that everything in my life will be complete. This is not an easy task. Though I do believe that you can “simply” decide to be happy and you will, it has not been something that has come to me automatically. It takes practice and I am far far far from being in a place where I am simply happy with whatever presents itself to me. But do not worry! I am determined to keep trying. I know that it will not happen over night and even though it seems to happen right away for some people, that is probably not the case.
I have been reading this book about creating happiness in your life and came across a section the other day about how your body reacts to your emotions, even on a cellular level. Being the skeptic I am, I felt awfully hesitant to believe that your cells actually behave differently when you are depressed than when you are happy. But then I can find examples of this being true everywhere. Well, not on a cellular level, but in general I do find that people who tend to have a pessimistic outlook on life and always have something to complain about only seem to bring about more sadness and dis-ease in their lives. And those that see the glass as being half full rarely have a bad thing to say. Of course, everyone has good days and bad days but in general, it does in fact seem that those who choose to be happy are happy. Simple as that. So I have in fact been attempting to at least notice when I start to complain and start to think negatively. The mere act of noticing when I am thinking negatively has been eye-opening. I do it ALL the time! Usually, it’s not as straightforward as something like “I hate this traffic” or “what kind of an a*hole cuts someone off like that!” But I have realized that my more subtle negative thinking has taken my mind over entirely. Things like “what is she thinking wearing that skirt?” and “I can’t wait to go home” permeate my day to day life. Pretty amazing realization. It’s no longer a mystery to me why I haven’t been feeling happy overall. I had no idea that my negative thinking was so automatic and rampant. I really didn’t. I mean, I know that I tend towards the glass is half empty way of life, but I honestly had no idea how often I think negatively. And although my outlook on the world in general hasn’t been shattered and totally turned around, I have been able to alert myself to the fact that I am thinking negatively and then–get this!–stop doing so! No other effort necessary. Simply noticing my tendencies has actually been helping me to change the behavior. Pretty cool! I think that one of the greatest things yoga has brought into my life is that just because I have been a negative person doesn’t mean that I will always be a negative person. The reminder that we are the authors of our own next moment is one that I never grow tired of hearing. It keeps me mindful of who I am and of who I want to be.

“It’s not how you are but how you are with how you are.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 8, 2010 6:15 PM

    I neever really thought about noticing a behavior as changing it, but that iss simple psychology. Very interesting stuff!

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