What is happiness?

Happiness: a state of well-being and contentment : JOY
– merriam-webster.com

I wish that there was an easy prescription for happiness. 1-2-3 = HAPPY!

The truth is, I don’t have it.

There is a lot of advice out there on being happy and things promising happiness. Happiness seems to be something that so many are striving for, yet seems just out of reach.

What does it mean to you to be happy?

I recently did a meditation retreat with a new meditation teacher and we did the Lovingkindness Meditation. It is a meditation that I’ve practiced for years and have even done meditation teacher training in which I learned how to “properly” teach it.

During the meditation, you say to yourself, a person you love, a person you are having difficulty with, and a neutral person the following phrases:

May I (or you) be happy
May I (or you) be healthy
May I (or you) be safe
May I (or you) live with ease

During my meditation retreat, the teacher changed HAPPY to PEACEFUL. When I asked him about it, he said that, for him, “happy” is an offering that he is unclear on – “what does “happy” mean?” so he changed it to something that feels clear and connected to him, which is peaceful. That peaceful feels more supportive.

So, when you think of happiness, what does it mean to you? What is supportive that you can connect with? Is it a state of well-being, contentment, joyful, or, perhaps, peaceful?

Once you understand what being happy means to you, it may be easier to attain.

As you seek to attain a state of happiness, which I feel is a lifelong practice, here are some guideposts that may help you along.

  • Be open to happiness. Some days we just feel down. It happens. In that state it is easy to get buried and unconsciously want to stay there. So, try and take a step back when you are feeling down and say to yourself, it’s okay to feel how I am feeling right now, but it’s okay to be happy, too.
  • Be open to changing your routines. if you’ve always done something one way, you’ll probably get the same result. What can you add to your daily routine to support your definition of happiness? What can you eliminate?
  • Be open to slowing things down. Often when we slow down, we are able to notice the things around us more and enjoy them. When we slow down, we may notice what we already have instead of looking for that next thing to give us instant gratification. Slowly taking a small step toward noticing what brings you peace and contentment might help you find enduring happiness instead of rushing with the mindset that “I have to be happy NOW!!!”

Finally, a simple request to release self-judgment as you continue on your journey forward. We are, after all, human. We feel all the emotions, we make mistakes, we are as we are. But, there is always the next moment where we can begin again.

May you have peace within,

Julia anjali mudra hands

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