August 28, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam
Have you ever noticed there are people who seem to have been born happy? They are constantly cheerful, engaging … just plain happy. I am not one of those. My sister believes we in my family of origin were born inclined toward melancholy (perhaps due to being part Scottish.) For me, the job of becoming happy is just that, a job. I don’t believe in just “Better Living Through Chemistry.” Nearly every single day I must choose happiness. I must defy whatever depression is trying to sneak in — beat it back — and make myself get happy. It took me many, many years to learn I was not a victim of my genetics — that I had the ability, the right even, to be happy. I just needed to figure out how.
Overcoming depression is the sole reason I run, the SOLE reason. The endorphins I receive are good for about 48 hours before I need another three plus mile fix. So that my knees can go the distance, I mix running with other high intensity cardiovascular activities. I listen to music — a lot. I interact with the people who make me happy. I have certain movies I watch over and over and over again, because they make me happy. I fill my brain with the kind of books that further my spiritual path.* I indulge in sugar-free caramel, whole milk lattes.
I have to be mindful of what I put into my body. If I consume alcohol, I become depressed. If I consume sugar, I get blood sugar swings (and you don’t want to know me on the down side.) I have fine tuned my diet to be one of primarily vegetables with some protein on the side. I need to eat every couple of hours. If I don’t, I get grouchy. I have to drink lots of water. Being dehydrated gives me a headache, AND THEN I GET GROUCHY.
I have to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Less than eight hours and I’m liable to say really awful, unmindful things. It makes me a bad traveler, since I am unable to sleep on a plane. When I say, not just out loud, but even in my head, awful, unmindful things I become unhappy with myself. I might take it out on someone else, but really, I’m just mad at me. I have to tell myself, about a zillion times a day, IT’S NOT PERSONAL.
I have to screen what goes into my brain. Like the news; sad books, movies, plays … sad stuff; scary stuff; mean stuff. I can go into a tailspin if I know a child or animal is being neglected (or worse.)
I struggle with keeping my balance when I’m around negative people. People who choose to live a life of drama drain me. You may have people in your life who do the same. Have you ever considered allowing them to leave your life? I have done just that: removed the people from my life who “bring me down.” (Who sang that song again?) My friend Randy tells a story about his dad: when his dad and mom had company over in the evening and his dad felt it was time for the company to leave, he would say “let’s go to bed, so these people can go home.” I’ve been taught: never throw anyone out of your heart, but you can throw them out of your life.
I’ve realized an important thing on my journey: WHAT WE FEED GROWS! If I feed, and by that I mean step into the pool of, drama, cynicism, depression, being judgmental, being critical, hatefulness, negativity … you know the stuff, then I become that. BUT, if I surround myself with happy people and eliminate the negative ones, if I make myself my own best company, if I constantly practice the yamas and niyamas, I stand a better chance of getting through the day in one piece.
I’m not saying we don’t all just step in the pit on occasion. I’m saying, I don’t want to and it is up to me to chose not to. I once had a boss, someone in charge of eight hours of my day, who seemed to do nothing but complain. I thought it was my job to give her advice, to try to fix her. She, of course, hadn’t asked for advice. What she wanted, what many people want who complain, is a good listener. Period. At the time I didn’t have the skills to deal with this situation. I have an entire arsenal of skills now. I know a simple smile goes a long way toward diffusing negativity. I know, and this is a big one, most people don’t want you to try to fix their problem — they. just. need. to. vent. I know now how to give someone space to do that without taking on the negativity that goes with it.
AND, I know, absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, FOR SURE, that practicing yoga everyday makes me a happier person. Even on days I don’t practice asana, just Yoga (which BTW means UNION — more on that later) I am a happier person. So if you run into me stumbling around, griping about some silly uncontrollable thing like the weather — tell me to go practice yoga! I’d sure appreciate that bit of unsolicited advice.
My happiness tree requires a lot of rain, sun and tender loving care.
Moving on …
Pranayama today: Sitkari. There is, of course, a YouTube video available if you are playing along at home.
Niyama: This is absolutely my fav: Contentment. Please read more, courtesy of Mr. William J. D. Doran:
Santosa – Contentment
Another niyama is santosa, modesty and the feeling of being content with what we have. To be at peace within and content with one’s lifestyle finding contentment even while experiencing life’s difficulties for life becomes a process of growth through all kinds of circumstances. We should accept that there is a purpose for everything – yoga calls it karma – and we cultivate contentment ‘to accept what happens’. It means being happy with what we have rather than being unhappy about what we don’t have.
Me and Santosa? BFF.
Asana: I need to make loose the areas I made tight yesterday when I ran. I will do a lot of forward bends, down dogs, pigeon poses, lunges, stretches using the strap, stretches for that area that comes from across the low back, over the quad and into the knee (what’s that called again?) and some serious quad stretches.
Well fellow travelers, thanks again for reading my rhetoric. Remember: ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!
love love love, c
*one of my sisters-in-law recently sent me: The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It is an excellent read.