the llama blog
practicing yoga off the mat.
“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” — Benjamin Franklin
While searching for new movies on Netflix, I found an interesting documentary simply titled, Happy. The above intro statement grabbed my attention, and had me questioning if I really understood what makes me happy.
Go ahead. Ask yourself these questions. Are you happy? Why (or why not) are you happy? What is happiness to you? No answer is right or wrong. It’s a starting point to understanding your own personal happiness.
The movie touched on many ways to cultivate happiness, but these three stood out to me.
Find your flow. You’ve probably seen Olympic athletes such as Michael Phelps “in the zone” while competing or an street painter “lost in the moment” as he captures the scene in front of him. This is being in the flow. What do you love to do? What is your passion? I enjoy gardening. It’s meditative. Gardening brings me closer to nature and clipping blooms is the reward of my efforts.
Serve others. When we believe there is something bigger than us in the universe, we’re more likely to cultivate compassion. Volunteering and performing random acts of kindness releases a hormone called serotonin, which regulates your mood and prevents depression. What gifts do you have that you can share? Being a yoga teacher, I offer my services (when I can) to schools and nonprofits that support our youth. I can arm them with the tools to manage their emotions, build stable relationships, and improve overall mental health; thus, giving the students a stronger chance of thriving rather than surviving through life.
Cultivate community. The documentary as well as countless articles name Denmark as one the happiest places on earth. Why? Among many reasons, their connection to others is strong. They do not live in a typical suburban environment where everyone waves to their neighbor then quickly disappears into their garage. They live side-by-side, and LOVE it. When we isolate ourselves, we start craving other ways to create happiness such as accumulating more material items and wasting away the day surfing social media. Living isolated creates fear, sadness and loneliness. Surrounding yourself with family and friends helps open your mind and heart. An open heart cultivates compassion and lets us see our neighbor, flaws and all, as our brother or sister.
One way you can start creating happiness right now is recognizing what you have to be grateful for in your life. Say it aloud right now. “I’m thankful for ….” Each day before you turn in, reflect on your day, and find one thing to be grateful for. Gratitude for what we have will put your heart on the path of true happiness.