Thursday, November 10, 2011

A new QUEST!

Am I happy?
My easy answer is yes, of course. The complex answer is yes, but a deeper happiness is always possible. Since I absolutely love a good quest, I was excited to discover The Happiness Project. Writer Gretchen Rubin took a year of her life to explore happiness, to learn to appreciate her life on different levels, and to test the wisdom as set forth by a variety of teachers.

Love it.

She also encourages everyone to pursue their own happiness projects. Clearly I have to do this now. :) But where to begin? I need to think about this for a few days, but I know it will begin with articulating my values. If it wasn't already glaringly obvious, I've made it a lifelong mission to figure out how to be the best version of myself. I can link this mindset back to the time when I started doing yoga; every day I become more and more convinced that the source of happiness is already present in our own bodies and minds.

Moving, breathing, stretching: to connect the body to the mind in a meaningful way is one of the tenants of yoga which holds power for many people. To slow down, embrace life in its present state, to feel powerful inside your own skin - as friends of mine, I've likely suggested stretching to you often.  Not as a mindless activity before exercise, but as a potential source of happiness and connection. While yoga classes are not for everyone, I'm amazed at the transformative nature of simple stretches in the morning and night.

A few years ago while in school, I would often catch myself holding my breath. My level of exhaustion, the deadlines I imposed or which were imposed upon me, friendship and relationship stresses: I would literally stop breathing for seconds at a time. I think back on this often as my body's gentle reminder that I was in desperate need of peace. Not the relief felt after turning in a final assignment, but rather acceptance and calm so absolute that overwhelming situations become points at which to grow rather than hide, to speak and act in unity with the core.

I've been on a mission ever since.

Granted, I feel like I'm always on a quest for something. This time though, I'm searching to change the way my mind works and responds to situations. Am I noticing a difference?

Actually, yes. I am.

Nothing happens over night, of course,  and my interest in doing my own happiness project reflects my understanding that I have a lot more learning to do. However, I'm encouraged that starting small with manageable steps really can provoke change. Looks like I have some work to do, friends!

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