There is an entire field out there called Positive Psychology–hey, somebody is finally catching on to what yogis and meditators have been saying for, oh, a couple thousand years. There are actions you can take, things you can say, and ways you can think that WILL train you to live with more happiness. By now you’ve figured out that this blog is not about the cult of Laughter Yoga–though the Laughing Yogini sure does laugh a lot and she and her students consciously strive to have FUN in yoga classes. We are a sort of Happiness Cult as we try to make changes in our lives so that what we do reflects who we are. Though it would probably be more accurate to call us a Bliss Club because I’m not sure that happiness equals bliss. To me, happiness is an ephemeral feeling, whereas bliss is closely tied to equanimity. Bliss, equanimity, satisfaction– these emotions are rooted in deep life choices, whereas feelings like happiness, euphoria, or ecstasy are usually related to events of much shorter duration, and the feelings pass on much more quickly.
My experience with both yoga asana practice and seated meditation has been that they definitely increase my happiness, even my bliss and equanimity in the short term, i.e. they feel good–that’s why I keep coming back to the mat! As I have slowly learned to hold onto that peace throughout my daily life, my general level of happiness has increased. As I have made various lifestyle changes–ditching the crap that was bringing me down–and focusing on what gives me greater satisfaction and joy–a not-so-surprising transformation has taken place: I FEEL GREAT about myself and my life. This all sounds so easy, but it wasn’t. At times I felt as if my Self was wrenching apart at the seams. In many ways, the seams, the assumptions that held me together so precariously and so well, unhappily, NEEDED TO BE DUMPED. For a very long time, I did not believe I would or COULD ever feel this way. as Far as I’m concerned, my state of being is nothing short of miraculous.
Enough said, I am a documentary junkie and I found Canadian Broadcasting Company has an RSS feed to the DOC ZONE–enough docs to feed me for quite a while I’d say. If you want the latest research from happiness pundits, watch HOW TO BE HAPPY, 48 minutes of your life that will be well spent. There are plenty of links to happiness-related sites on the page too. There’s even a quiz, just in case you need a number to tell you how happy you are!
And as for our personal efforts towards increasing WORLD HAPPINESS, let’s try incorporating the activities “the experts” recommended in the documentary:
1. Experience Pleasure
2. Contribute to the Greater Good
3. Express Gratitude
These are, or should be, aims for any yogi/ni’s life.