Half a dozen times a week, there is a song that plays at work. It instantly puts a smile on my face. The song consists of six words and repeats itself over and over again. But I never get bored of it. It’s sort of like Hot Yoga, 26 poses over and over again and yet I still go into that dreadfully hot room for more.
Those six words inspire my words today.
Have you ever thought about what makes you happy? It's a simple question yes, but what about the simple answer? Negative. Not only as yogis but as human beings we tend to focus on the negative aspects of life. It's very easy to define our sadness... quite sad isn't it? Knowing how to make yourself happy comes down to knowing what causes you to feel the way you do. When you understand what makes you happy in the first place, you can use that knowledge to continue to feel happy. Instead of trying to find happiness as if it is something outside of you, you need to search for it within. Not only that, you need to be able to activate those feelings.
The next time you're about to head into Savasana, try smiling while your eyes are closed. Your practice doesn't have to be so serious. Smile to your teacher, trust me she/he will respond to it. I know this because my teacher told me in class last week. She said ''It took me over ten years to be able to smile in my practice, it was the hardest thing." Now, when I'm in her class I'm aware of that. We often exchange smiles and glances in the mirror. It's sort of cute actually.
The only way (and I mean it by the only way, unless you are very materialistic and that's utterly okay -- not judging you) to make yourself happy is to focus on things that make you happy. Most of the time, people are unhappy because they keep focusing on negative things. I don't care how happy you are, if you go around constantly thinking about depressing things, sooner or later, you are going to start feeling pretty lousy. Your emotions, whether happiness or anything else, can be controlled by what you focus on and what meaning you give to things.
For example, will going to practice every single day make you happy? That depends. If you are accustomed to returning to your mat seven times a week, then you'll probably just be neutral about it. However, if you haven't gone to practice in a few days, that one class can make you extremely happy. What if you make minimum wage and suddenly land a job that pays 3 times as much? Will that make you happy? What if you were already making 10 times more than the minimum wage but got demoted or had a pay cut and now you are making only 3 times the minimum wage? Will you be happy now?
As you can see, things don't make you happy. It is your perception and the meaning that you give to those "things" that make you happy. This is why people in third world countries can experience happiness while you have celebrities who have everything and end up committing suicide. When you make the mistake of thinking that happiness comes from external things, it will be hard to stay happy. Only you can make you happy.
When you are down or upset or just sad in general, chin up! You are alive, you have friends, you are loved, you're able to walk into class and appreciate the superb energy around you. You are lucky enough to be guided by trained teachers. You should be happy because you can breathe.
Focus on what you already have and be grateful for it. Just think about a time in your life when you didn't have the things you now have in your life, the friends, the relationships, the practice, the career, etc. When you focus on what is good in your life, it will make you feel happier.
Make making yourself happy easy. Too often we place all of these conditions on what has to happen before we can allow ourselves to be happy.
"If I don't have $50k in savings, then I can't be happy."
"If I don’t achieve 10% body fat, then I can't be happy."
"If I can't get into Padangustasana today, I can't be happy"
When you place rules that make it hard for you to be happy, you may find yourself very miserable.
Be happy in the pursuit of your goals. Instead of trying to acquire things and achieve goals in order to be happy, why not be happy while you pursue your goals. In other words, don't seek happiness, happily seek. Or as my teacher says, "enjoy the journey, not just the destination." Stop thinking about the previous pose that you couldn't get into, think about the one you are currently in. Enjoy it, have fun with it and if you look weird, so what... weirdness is greatness.
Knowing how to make yourself happy comes down to realizing that you can allow yourself to be happy simply by letting go of all of the conditions that you have allowed society to place on yourself. The condition that "this and that" has to happen before you can feel happy will only make matters more difficult.
It's great to go for goals and dreams and of course you should, but don't place your happiness on whether or not you accomplish those goals. Learn to be happy in pursuit of those goals and dreams.
After all, isn't the purpose of life to be happy?