For part of a Christmas gift this year, a student gave me an adorable little succulent ornament for my desk that reads, “Do More of What You Love”.
This of course, got me thinking.
If someone was to ask me what I truly love to do, I would be able to provide them with a nice little list. It would go something like this....
I love to have date nights with my husband and snuggle with my dogs. I love delicious food and happy hour. I love reading, yoga, holding babies, Joanna Gaines and especially vacations. (In no particular order)
Looking over the list, I realized that I am lucky enough to do a lot of these things on a pretty regular basis. Not only do I practice yoga, I teach it. There is a book in my hand (historical fiction please!) at every possible opportunity and I snuggle with my dogs every single day. So all of this begs the question, if these experiences cause a feeling of happiness, and I am exposed to them regularly, why aren’t I happier?
I can say with all honesty, that I know many people struggle with this same notion. The answer, I think, lies in the fact that we are always waiting, counting down the moments, until we can reach a high point in our day or week. (“I can’t wait until......” or “I’ll feel better when it’s *Friday *Summer *time for vacation *insert answer here....” sound familiar???)
We are waiting for an ‘ideal’ situation to bring us happiness. For as slowly as that moment arrives.... a long awaited happy hour date on Friday or that highly anticipated getaway once or twice a year, it is gone in a flash.
So where is the problem? Time.... or rather our perception of it and Expectations.
We unconsciously place an unrealistic value on small pieces of time in our life. Because of this, we allow everyday routines or seemingly inconsequential moments, which make up the majority of our existence, to pass without realizing what we are missing. Very often, we even unintentionally allow the moment to steal value from our day by failing to see it’s worth.
Our expectations or vision of how our life will play out, can lead us to feelings of sadness and negativity when our ‘plan’ does not come to fruition. I have been there more times than I care to count.
Everyone (whether they realize it or not) has experienced the effects of the absence of aparigraha. This Sanskrit term translates to non-greed and non-possessiveness. During my yoga teacher training, we were taught that through yoga, we are to practice this principal. I think understanding this concept alone was the hardest part of the training for me. As someone who is extremely goal oriented, I struggled to see how feeling attached or invested to an outcome, could be perceived as greed.
It took time, and more life practice than I would have preferred, but now I see this clearly. What it means is this: It is only human nature to desire an outcome. Working toward new accomplishments and wanting success is not the problem. The need for Aparigraha practice occurs when an unintended result or undesired outcome steals away our joy. When we allow something out of our control, to control our happiness - to make it impossible to seek joy in the present moment. That holding on to a single notion, is greed. It is closing yourself off to the path that the universe has readied for you; it is missed growth, relationships and opportunities.
Now for the main event! What’s the remedy....and is it easy. The remedy is to love more of your life story, what is both in and out of your control, and it’s as easy as you decide to make it.
The very fact that you practice living with an awareness of your present moment is the perfect place to begin. That’s not to say that because I am writing this post, that I have mastered this strategy.... far from it, as my husband will enthusiastically point out.
But this is the beautiful perspective that yoga offers: everything is a practice. It is not a failure, a missed opportunity or a deserted resolution. It is a, ‘today didn’t go so well, let me practice approaching this a different way’ type of ideal. You don’t have to wait until New Years Day 2020, or even until the start of a new week, you can begin this practice right now.
When you step away from your phone or computer or wherever you are reading this article, observe your current surroundings. If you aren’t immediately in a place that would have made your top 10 list of things you love to do, decide to find something that you can love about your current state. In those few seconds, and with really minimal effort, you have met success.
The next time you find something to be disappointing or upsetting, seek the silver lining. Decide to immerse yourself in the uncomfortable feelings that arise, just for a moment or two, and then bring your attention back to your joys.
Right now, rejoice in the fact that YOU create your own happiness. If you are unhappy, you are allowing yourself to be negatively affected by a situation (as harsh as that may sound!). If instead, we seek the beauty in the sadness, we make complicated life situations simple and focus on the love and joy to be found in them. Through this practice, things suddenly aren’t so bleak.
See you on the mat,