Updated: Sep 26, 2019
It is the eternal quest isn't it? How to become, live and flourish in our true state of happiness. When I say happiness, to me and in Ayurveda, it means a state of balance and harmony within yourself. It is the capacity to successfully navigate the ups and downs of human existence with ease and without detriment to your health and to those around you.
So amongst all of my reading and alongside my own practice and experience, I have discovered two key principals that most flourishing, connected and balanced individuals follow and implement in almost every aspect of their lives. These simple little principals might seem so bleeding obvious, but it is amazing how often we don't practice them and are easily deterred by other little habits developed in the mind. For example, constant engagement with the ego, influxes of emotions like anger or fear, being lazy or stagnated and then the real kicker, wanting others to define our identity, self worth and happiness for us - media, our families, our partners, our friends, our community. All of these factors deter us from the actual truth which is waiting for us all the time in the form of our soul or our universal sense of intuition. Being happy is being connected to who we really are (a balance between the mind, body and spirit), living with meaning and being thankful for it. Easier said than done for many, but it is worth considering.
The first principal for happiness I would like to put forward is that of practising gratitude.
Gratitude is a word being used a lot at the moment in many health and wellness capacities and for good reason. Gratitude is a mindful practice nudging us to be reflective of the blessings and lessons in our life. Almost like being a "half glass full" type of person - let's be honest, we all love those sorts of people. What I find interesting though, is that many (and I really do mean many) people I speak to and work with will often say "I am grateful for such and such but..." No, no. There's no "but". Gratitude does not come with a but, it is but-less. If you are adding a but to your words of gratitude, you aren't really practising gratitude, you are simply trying it on for size. You will often know when you are connecting with a truly grateful person. For a start, they usually don't just tell you that they are grateful - their very being, actions and effects on others is what will show you. Gratitude is a heartfelt sense of thankfulness and reflection of your life as a whole - even the really gritty, yucky stuff that teaches us the big lessons. This does not being thrilled to death about the fact that we are having a really tough time in a relationship, or that someone has let us down or that we are unwell, it means practising a sense of acceptance that it is all meant to be as it should. That you will learn the lesson that must be taken, you will be productive with your learning and most importantly, heal and forgive (this is where Ayurveda can be really helpful). Long term happiness is deeply connected to a sense of thanks that we have for ourselves and those around us for teaching and presenting us with all that we need to lead a life of service.
Which brings me to my next point, find your purpose.
Ever met a really positive and connected soul who didn't have a sense of purpose? It just doesn't happen - flourishing people have purpose. Always. Now, by purpose, I don't mean being a CEO of a major corporation or being the President (although, if that is your purpose, that's awesome too). I am talking about people who have a reason to get out of bed in the morning with a feeling of joy and those who come home at night feeling a sense of peace and fulfilment because they have helped someone, built something, learnt something, provided something. In Ayurvedic philosophy (as I have spoken about before) it is called dharma. This philosophy suggests that everyone is brought onto this Earth with their very own special combinations of strengths and gifts to be of service to the greater good. It doesn't matter what it is - teaching, speaking, caring, healing, creating. All of it is good. What is even better no less, is the fact that when we connect with our dharma within ourselves, life becomes fulfilling, a joy and effortless. Your immune system goes up, your body becomes strong and your mind balanced and clear. Pretty big bonuses for doing what you love right??
So, now how to apply these principals more effectively in our lives? It might be worth reflecting on the following points:
1. When was the last time a thought of gratitude floated through your mind - when you saw a beautiful sunset, your kids playing or simply just having a nice meal? Were you present and actually enjoyed it or were you cluttered in your mind and missed it entirely?
2. How do people usually leave an interaction with you? Brutal question to ask yourself, I know. But it can give you some good indicators about your internal self. Do people leave feeling happier because of engaging with you or do they leave with stress, guilt, depletion or agitation? Be honest.
3. On a day to day basis, do you enjoy and are you connected with what you do? Does it leave you generally feeling fulfilled, content and energised or drained, flat, stressed, overwhelmed, lethargic or apathetic? Do you encourage the strengths and gratitude in others or do you potentially sap it out of them?
4. How often do you sincerely listen, connect and are invested to the greater good of those around you? And be mindful - simply asking someone how they are is easy, truly listening to their response and responding without any form of our own agenda is challenging.
5. Do you lead a life connected to your dreams and hopes - not just for yourself but for others and the betterment of the world you will leave behind? Do you walk your talk?
6. What is your ratio time spent between talking and listening? What are the topics of your conversations generally? Are there any patterns?
7. Are you in constant conflict within yourself and with others? Or are things effortless for the most part and you have honest, strong and positive relationships?
8. Are you constantly run down and getting unwell? Or are you thriving and feeling balanced?
Please don't get me wrong, everyone gets off track - feeling miserable, powerless and disconnected at some point. We have all made personal and professional decisions that are detrimental to our overall well being. The question is, do you take the knocks and mistakes as lessons and move on or as a lifestyle choice you are now stuck in? There is something immensely powerful about simply making a choice to move in another direction. To be happy, you need to live happy. If your answers to above the questions got you a little concerned, that's a good thing! It means that it is time to reflect, make some shifts and connect with people, environments and practices that are fuel for you. Life is certainly not a dress rehearsal and it is up to us, and nobody else, to define how we live it.
Stop. Pause. Reflect. Each and every one of us have unique gifts to offer to the world.
With love and light,