One of my favorite quotes is, "I still remember a time when I wished for what I have now." When I first read it, that quote told me, like a smack to the face, to appreciate the here and now and stop complaining so much. As I think you know about me by now, I'm not one of those people who will tell you it’s unsafe to ever complain. But let's face it—we all do it too much. It's so in our natures to focus on the negative or look for what we need to fix. We think, "If I could just _______________, I'd be happy." Fill in the blank with whatever you've told yourself.
If we base our happiness on things that are changeable, our ability to be happy teeters on a razor's edge, ready to drop us into unhappiness at any moment. If you can't be happy unless you're married, what happens if your marriage ends for some reason? If you can't be happy unless you have a particular job, what happens if you don't get that job? There are people in dire circumstances who still manage to be happy or at least have moments of contentment, regardless of what they endure. We can all learn a lot from them.
We have to find a way to be our happiness. Rather than seek happiness, we can learn to cultivate it within ourselves. Yes, we allow external things to bring us moments of happiness. We enjoy our marriage as fully as we possibly can, for example, but we're much better off if we don't rely on it for our happiness.
For example, ask yourself: If I separate myself from the idea that I don't have enough money right now, how do I feel? If I separate myself from the fact that somebody doesn't like me, how do I feel? Can I feel contentment even if these so-called negative circumstances remain true?
It helps, of course, to stay in the moment. When we start thinking about the future, worry sets in, and all the thoughts of "What if I can't make the rent?" or "What if I end up alone?" start to plague us and rob us of happiness. Since we don't know what the future will bring, "what if" questions are a pointless exercise. As we've often heard it said, the moment of now is all we have. Experiencing happiness is really a matter of just making the most of each moment.
Don't seek happiness, see happiness.
That's the challenge—seeing it in the ordinary and the everyday. In the mantras later in this chapter, I say, "I don't seek the light—I am the light. I drown out all darkness. I'm immune to negativity." We are the light and the happiness that we seek. The painful stuff that happens in our lives is the darkness, but the light within us can allow us to feel happiness even in the midst of darkness. No matter what happens to us, we are still the light.
Our natural state—before we fell under the influence of other people’s opinions, irrational fears, and arbitrary social rules—is lightness, curiosity, discovery, awe, and, yes, happiness. Just as we are not our feelings that pass through like breezes, we are not the darkness that sometimes comes into our lives. Nothing that happens to us can dim our light. And remember: there is light available to us even at night. The moon and the stars never go out. Let their light be a reminder that our light never goes out either. That source of happiness is always shining if we just look.
Every day there will be opportunities to be happy and opportunities to be unhappy. Which opportunities are you going to say yes to?
I'm not saying that you shouldn't feel pain and grief and loss when they come into your life. Those feelings must be felt and cannot be ignored. But so often what we experience as unhappiness is really just a dull sense of dissatisfaction. In those moments we can make the choice to cultivate openness within ourselves and allow happiness to come, whether it's generated from our own state of being or from something in our external world—a hug, a song, or a slice of Jewish apple cake.
Meditation for happiness.
"If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness..." —Mahatma Gandhi
Changing your environment is as simple as changing your outlook. Inspiring other people to do the same is as easy as shining your light and allowing them to step into its glow. When you've touched one person's heart, you've changed the whole world forever.
This meditation, inspired by a metta meditation (for loving kindness) taught to me by renowned meditation guide davidji, will wake you up to the light that's already inside you and help you shine that light on the world. Recalling your meditation at other times of the day will remind you to turn on your light for others to see. Imagine yourself as a streetlight on a dark night. You're not just the light that shines—you're also lighting up everything around you. Once someone steps into your light, the darkness that surrounds him or her disappears, too.
When? Morning is a perfect time to start spreading light. You'll be able to send light, love, and happiness to others even from your meditation pillow. You might also like trying this meditation whenever you feel like the people around you may need a little happiness pick-me-up.
Where? Of course, it's always nice to meditate in a quiet spot, but I've used this meditation in all sorts of places—in my dressing room on the set of my TV show, in the back of taxis, and in my doctor's waiting room. Use it before a big interview to soften your interviewer or to help ease the nerves of your fellow passengers on the runway before your plane takes off. You are a powerful light worker doing your magic everywhere!
Position? Energy flows most easily when you're sitting up tall. Sit in Easy Seat with your hands resting on your thighs or knees and your palms upturned. It might feel good to place your hands over your heart center for all or part of your meditation. I'm going to guide you through a visualization of your heart chakra, so it's best if you can close your eyes during parts of this meditation.
Begin your meditation sitting up nice and tall in Easy Seat with your hands resting gently, palms upturned, or placed over your heart center. You’re ready to bathe everything that surrounds you in light.
1. Focus your attention on your breath as it is in this moment. Follow your natural inhales and exhales as they enter into your nostrils, travel through your body, settle in your seat, and exit past your lips. If your hands are placed over your chest, feel your chest rise and fall with your breath. Close your eyes for ten full, natural breath cycles. Then open your eyes to read your mantra.
Put your heart chakra to work.
2. Picture your Heart Chakra glowing bright green. Imagine it glowing brighter every time you repeat your mantra. Close your eyes, and on the exhale of each of five breath cycles, repeat either silently or aloud, “I don’t seek the light. I am the light.” Open your eyes when you’re finished. Consider those words for just a few moments. You don’t have to seek the light. Happiness doesn’t live outside of you. You are the light. Happiness is what you are in your natural state.
3. Focus on your hear chakra again still glowing bright green, still expanding and contracting with every inhale and exhale. Pure love and happiness radiates from your heart center. It’s time to release it into the world. Send this love and happiness out from your heart center. Every time you exhale, the love and happiness is sent farther and farther—first to the immediate area surrounding your physical body, then to the room, then to the space outside of the room. By your last exhale, you’re sending pure love and happiness to the entire world.
4. Close your eyes for seven full breath cycles. On each exhale, release more love and happiness into your space. Your Heart Chakra expands with every inhale, and your exhale releases the light of your Heart Chakra into the world.
Sealing your practice.
Just like your meditation practice is a lighthouse that guides you to your truth, you are a lighthouse that draws others toward the light. Repeat your sealing mantra either silently or aloud on each exhale until you feel ready to reenter your day. “I am light. I am vibrant energy. I am a magnet for the same
Based on an excerpt from You Have 4 Minutes To Change Your Life: Simple 4-Minute Meditations For Inspiration, Transformation, and True Bliss by Rebekah Borucki with permission of Hay House. Copyright 2017.