10 Lessons In Happiness From Burning Man

Written by Sarah Anne Stewart

As a virgin to Burning Man this year, I approached the experience with caution and my own set of expectations. But upon arriving on the playa I quickly released all concerns. A breathtaking world of dusty playa people and massive, intricately designed art was in front of me. I was in awe, and within hours of arriving I was lost in the experience.

I found myself one morning sitting on the desert ground watching the rising sun cast light onto the cracks in the ground below me. I took a breath and realized how happy I was. Happiness consisted of sitting in the dust, doing absolutely nothing.

Happiness IS truly a matter of awareness. You can’t be happy without being aware. It's about seeing the world just as children do. It's about seeing things in your own way and not the way you were taught. Happiness is found by living in the here and now, not in the past or future.

This awareness is always available — not just in extreme circumstances like being surrounded by thousands of dancing hippies.

But how do we increase this awareness? While at Burning Man, I paid close attention to what my inner voice told me about finding happiness, and this what I heard:

1. Have faith in your own path.

It's unique to you. Stop comparing your journey to others. Have faith that you're being guided and that you're making the right choices in your life.

2. Get everyone else out of the equation.

It's not your role to make others happy. You can only uplift others from a position of strength, clarity and alignment. No matter how hard you try, you cannot be responsible for another person’s happiness; the only person whose happiness you can control is your own. Don’t get trapped in a cycle of trying to make others happy and neglecting your own desires.

3. Focus on gratitude and feeling good.

How many times have you thought, “I’ll be happy when…”? Be grateful for what you have now and the path you’re on, and that gratitude will manifest itself into more beautiful experiences.

4. View the world as a free world.

If you see the world as a place where anything is possible and you can create the life of your dreams, you’ll find a new sense of empowerment. Day to day you're constantly creating your own experiences: View the world as a place of opportunity and excitement.

5. Acknowledge that only from contrast can you determine what it is that you really want.

Take your time to realize what it is that you truly want. Without experiencing both the positive and negative, how would you know what you truly want (or don’t want)? Go out and experience as many things as possible!

6. Trust that you are always going to be on your way to something more.

Stop beating yourself up about not being exactly where you want to be at this time in your life. On a soul level, you are always expanding. Trust that your soul will guide you to the right place at the right time, even if it’s not on your desired timeline.

7. Keep moving forward.

There's nothing you need to go back and live over. Stop beating yourself up about not being someplace you are not. Everything that's happened in your life has led you to exactly where you need to be now. Use those past events as a learning experience to hone in on what you truly want. Have faith that you are on the right path to joy. Say goodbye to the negative thoughts about your past and bless it for what it has taught you.

8. Take responsibility for your own happiness.

It’s an extremely liberating sensation to stop asking others what they think and start paying attention to how you feel. You create your own life, so if you aren't happy (in a feel good space), you need to focus inward. Everything that you have and will experience was first imagined by you, so make manifesting your happy experiences your first priority.

9. Constantly work on yourself.

Your world is a mirror image of your interior. If you find your life is full of chaos and negative people, look inward and see if you are attracting these situations to you with your thoughts and actions. If you change your thoughts and actions to reflect peace, love, and happiness, you will find that you will attract these things into your life.

10. Embrace the present moment.

Have you ever looked back on a life experience and wished you had been more present? Start embracing your present (even in the smallest moments), and happiness will undoubtedly find you.

To me, Burning Man was a uniquely beautiful spiritual experience. It allowed me to experience happiness in all its glory. And since returning home, the idea of detaching from having to have it all, all the time (a great career, financial freedom, satisfying relationships, the ability to travel and so forth) feels lighter to me. My attention now is around developing this present moment talent while enjoying the beautiful things in life — and I encourage you all to do the same as well.

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