“Your success and happiness lies in you.
Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you
shall form an invincible host against difficulties”.
– Helen Keller.
I have been thinking about happiness a lot lately. My thoughts wander to the subject at the most random times; while putting on makeup, vacuuming, during yoga class (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to be thinking during yoga). The question I am asking myself, ‘is being happy our natural state and if so then why is it such a challenge to find lasting happiness?
This question is similar to the question regarding our body shape, ‘is being physically fit and lean our natural state?’ Having been a personal trainer and yoga instructor for many years, I feel I can speak with some authority on this subject. Yes, I think being fit and lean (relative to our body type) is our natural state; however, due to the abundance of amazing food and its effect on our brain’s pleasure centers and our tendency to want to conserve energy (i.e. lie on the couch watching ‘The Notebook’ for the 10th time), we must maintain a vigilant effort to keep our healthy, trim state.
I theorize happiness is also our natural state as well but just as with our physical bodies, it takes a planned effort to resist the multitude of temptations that will veer us off course. Here is my happiness plan:
- Hard work=happiness. I must accept that it takes hard work to accomplish goals. (I think our grandparents have been saying this all along but it took a while to sink in.)
- Accomplishing goals=happiness. What brings long term happiness may not look like what I expect. It may mean working long hours to make a project happen or training twenty hours a week to achieve a race goal. Brutal effort but rewarding results.
- R&R=Happiness. There are times I find myself thinking I need to make major life changes to maintain my happiness (i.e. move to a different city, find a new career, or sell our home and buy a houseboat, hmmm that one actually sounds pretty good…but I digress) however, once I take a little time away that nagging feeling dissipates and my life looks pretty darn good.
- Laughing=happiness. I can be having the worst day, the opposite of happy, and then my husband will make a joke (the kind that makes you get tears in your eyes) and poof, as if a magician had waved a wand, I am happy again. I just needed a little recalibration.
- Being kind=happiness. As the old adage states, ‘what goes around comes around’, enough said.
- Movement=happiness. There is one thing I consistently witnessed during my years instructing, no one leaves the gym or yoga class feeling worse than when they came in and the majority of the time they feel a heck of a lot better.
- Stillness=happiness. This seems a contradiction to number six, but my daily meditation practice brings balance to my otherwise busy, busy life.
Just as my workout plan and limiting the Chocolate Mint Gelato consumption helps to keep me fit, this plan helps me stay happy. Having a happiness plan=happiness!