The online definition of ‘happy’ is a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with a person, arrangement, or situation. Another definition is to feel or show pleasure or contentment. My experience over the last few years has helped me understand that happiness is different from joy. The latter is a momentary state triggered by external circumstances. While the former is about building a life condition so we can remain undefeated in any situation. Though the learning still continues, I want to share a few ways that help me keep a high life condition amid the turbulence of life.
The most challenging thing for me to practice is to be present in the moment. I either ruminate about the past or worry about the future. However, whenever I strive to live in the present, the past turns into a training ground and the future is a possibility I can create.
In daily life, this has translated into being attuned to the people around me and listening to them rather than thinking about the next to-do item. I now pause to appreciate the sounds of nature like the crushing of leaves under the feet, the attentive gaze of a squirrel and the whistling of trees. With writing, I now enjoy the process rather than worrying about reaching a goal.
Live from the heart
Living from the heart means listening to the inner calling that compels us to move in a specific direction. It is often combined with an equally strong and opposing pull of the head that brings out our fears and insecurities. I experience a lot of stress when I try to control the outcomes of my life that are mostly based on the elaborate analysis of my brain. I now listen to my inner voice to decide the path to follow or let go in a situation. And I employ my mind to find a wise way to traverse through it.
A mindful practice like yoga, meditation or chanting helps in toning down the scream of the head so that the inner voice can be heard louder.
Unconditionally love oneself
Unconditional acceptance of self for our qualities and flaws is the cornerstone of being happy. I no longer feel the need to be ‘someone’ or ‘that person’. I acknowledge who I am today, take action to become better tomorrow and appreciate how far I have come in life. This unconditional love towards myself has translated into unconditionally accepting and loving my family and friends for who they are.
I now have more compassion for my flaws and humility for my qualities. I find time to spend with myself with a nice lunch, walk or a day out. I appreciate others for helping me grow even when they trigger me negatively. I pamper myself by pursuing activities that bring me closer to my life’s mission. All these are simple ways to take care of oneself.
Accept the lows of life
One of the hardest things that I am still learning to do is to accept the dumps of life. In the last few years, I have experienced many situations on personal, health, relations, work and global level that plunged me into low-life conditions and despair. However, paraphrasing Daisaku Ikeda’s words “It is not the life’s problems that make us unhappy, it is being defeated by them and losing hope that makes us unhappy.”
The first thing that helps me is to accept the low-life condition I am going through. Acceptance then leads to the ability to let it go by writing it down, sharing it with a friend and chanting about it. This helps in gaining the strength to go through it. And finally, it results in sustaining a life condition where I can create hope and find a way out.
“If you can live through that [a difficult situation], you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You’re able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’”Eleanor Roosevelt
Take responsibility of self
We are connected to each other and our thoughts, words and actions make a huge impact on the people around us. One of the main root causes of stress in life is when I focus on others’ behaviours that create dissonance in my life. It adds to my frustration when I am unable to change their behaviour to suit my preferences.
No matter how hard it is, the key to building harmony in relations is by taking responsibility for one’s own actions, words and behaviour. When I face a challenging interpersonal situation, I chant to bring forth compassion for the other person and look beyond their behaviour. This helps me to listen, understand and engage in dialogue with them. As I change my own response to their behaviour, their behaviour starts to reflect it back.
© 2023 Sakshi Daral
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