Amanda Manning, LPC, LMHC, RYT (200)
“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” (Bhagavad Gita, 3.35)
I want you take a moment and read that quote from one of the oldest spiritual texts known to man a few times, until you really grasp it and feel it. I am a yoga teacher and a mental health therapist, and I love to combine the two because I feel both are important to understanding why we might be feeling stuck, inert, flat, unfulfilled.
What I think most of us are doing is trying to reach goals that are beyond our reach. I’m not saying that we aren’t good enough to reach them, but that the goals we are reaching for aren’t actually our goals. They are the goals of our mothers, friends, partners, social media “influencers”, etc. We will truly get what we want out of life when we recognize that for the most part we already have it.
The next step is to identify what we really, truly want. Our heartfelt desire.
In the Art of Happiness, Dr. Howard C. Cutler reviews several discussions he had with the Dalai Lama on happiness. Dr. Cutler outlines several research studies about happiness…and how to be happy…and why it’s important to be happy… He says the Dalai Lama stated something like that in order to be happy we essentially have to identify that which makes us happy and follow that and then identify that which causes suffering and get rid of that.
And at first I was like WOW. PROFOUND! This is life changing stuff. And then after closer inspection I was like…wait. That’s it? Do the things we like and get rid of the things we don’t?
And yet. We don’t do that.
We don’t make space for the things that we truly, truly need in our life.
So shopping makes you happy? Does it? It is exciting to twirl in that new dress or receive that new package or put those new things on the shelf, right? Such a thrill in the search and finding of the perfect thing. The question is then, is that bringing you happiness or pleasure?
This is the trick that we have to break down further.
Just because something brings you pleasure doesn’t mean it’s making you happy. Sunday funday, anyone? FABULOUS at the time, not so great when you are dragging your bleary-eyed carcass into work on Monday. Is that true happiness?
Let’s break down Sunday Funday. It’s belly laughs with best friends, sunshine, good food, cute outfits. Mimosas are likely involved in the all-you-can-drink volume, and that enhances the belly laughs, I’ll give you that, but you don’t need those to maintain your friendships, do you? If you do, no judgement, but take a look at those friendships.
So what truly brings you happiness?
The sun glinting through the window on a Saturday morning, hitting the shoulder ever so softly of your partner laying next to you. The extra time that morning to talk about the crazy dream you had or plan the day. The first sip of coffee. Children’s laughter. The soft fur of your dog or cat snuggled up next to you. Nailing that presentation at work. All of the laundry being done (look, just dream big with me here). Chopping vegetables while your partner or your kid tells you a funny story about their day. That song coming on the radio at the exact moment that you need it to. Inside jokes with family. Twinkle lights. Ocean waves. Snow capped mountains. The end of an intense workout. The smile of your best friend when they are doing something they are passionate about.