One of my life missions – not just my profession – is to spread happiness where ever I go.
This is a deeply personal blog, so if you can’t handle truth, move on.
About a year ago it became apparent to me that I needed to break off my engagement with my fiancé.
Whenever you have to make a major life change, there’s a bit of fear around that – will I be OK afterwards, is it possible I can ever be happy again?
Once I moved back into my beautiful home in Atlanta I cried every day for about three months.
The tears would come up like waves.
I would let myself weep and then soon enough the waterworks would run out and I would go back to doing whatever it was that I would be into at that moment.
I didn’t stop the tears, I just let them happen.
During this time, however, I was bound and determined to restore my usual state of happiness so intuitively and without anybody prompting me before going to sleep at night I would make long lists in my journal of everything I could think of that I felt grateful for.
Well, I would make a list of at least 20 things I felt grateful for.
I would sit on my porch in the moonlight and reflect.
Somewhere around 13 or 14 on my list, I would usually feel a bit stuck, but once I got to 20 I could go roaring along and think of even more wonderful blessings to leave me in a state of deep awe and appreciation.
Meanwhile, while I was going through this crying binge and gratitude list making, the city of Atlanta was continuing construction on the road in front of my house.
Northside Drive was actually shaking 24/7.
My neighbors and I all had earthquake meters on our smart phones and no degree of begging the head of construction office or city councilmen had any effect.
I turned to my meditation practice with great sincerity. I meditated in the middle of the night when 18 wheelers would come crashing down the road. I meditated more often than I had ever meditated in any period of my life, quite literally hours every day, in a bid not just to maintain my precious sanity but to try to get some rest in spite of the noise.
The day before my dog Belle died the city of Atlanta repaved Northside Drive and all of a sudden the great banging stopped.
All of a sudden my house was very quiet.
No road construction, no little cocker spaniel.
About a week before my dog died I had just been thinking to myself, “I think I feel happier now than I have ever been at any point ever in my life.”
Indeed, I felt a profound sense of joy that radiated throughout every moment of every day.
And then all of a sudden I was grappling with grief again, unable to stop the ache of losing my very best furry four legged friend.
Sorry for the overly long introduction, but now here’s my point.
At another period of great upheaval in my life, in my early 30s, I made up my mind about something very important.
I decided I wanted to be happy.
At that time I had gone through a series of unfortunate events that ended up with me spending two years in a YWCA support group for battered women.
It was a major turning point.
In my journal I made a list of all the awful things that had happened and came to the conclusion, “This is ridiculous. I actually WANT to feel happy.”
I wasn’t sure exactly how to do that – how to feel really happy most of the time – but I made the choice at the deepest possible level.
About a year or so after I made up my mind to be happy, I got off the lithium and antidepressants I had taken for 18 years.
Three years after that, I published my first book, Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide, a subject I updated recently in my Amazon No. 1 bestseller Banish the Blues Now.
So here’s three fool-proof ways you can feel happy:
- Physical pleasure. Moving your body. Sex. Exercise. Eating.
- Soul satisfaction. What satisfies your soul may be NFL football on a Sunday afternoon with a beer and your best buddies. For me, it might be teaching yoga with the students I have come to love over the past 20 years. It might be taking my iPhone and running after the butterflies in my garden to snap their picture.
- Life meaning. Knowing and experiencing that your very being makes a difference. You can endure much personal discomfort if you know way down deep what impact you create.
Once you have made the choice to be a happy person, you can write your gratitude lists, you can meditate, you can walk in the sunshine every morning and you can do for others but one day even none of these training wheels will be required.
All you really have to do is focus on the joyful feeling in your heart.
This joy is ever present, even when the road outside your house is shaking.
If you don’t believe me, just take the time one day and really feel your heart, going all the way into it as far as you possibly can.
In my yoga class, I sometimes point out that as we meditate we can experience what the yogis call our anandamaya kosha, our spiritual self, which literally translates as “the body of bliss.”
Turning inward, we can feel this joy.
Turning outward, we can radiate this joy everywhere to everyone all around us, and in so doing, create an energy field that can be sensed not only by ourselves but by people who don’t even know us.
What is healing? Healing happens when we practice radiating the joy in our hearts.