You can’t become happy, but you can be happy. Seven ways to truly be happy.
8 November 2021 | Mick Timpson
When we talk about JOY we need to change the terms of reference. You can’t really become joyful or happy; you can only be joyful and happy.
Joy is an internal thing and it’s a choice.
Welcome to the third session of my final four yoga classes in Manchester. The first two sessions explored Manifestation and Purpose. This week, it’s something that underpins both of these aspects of practice – JOY (ananda)
Sure there might be a fleeting, external context to happiness but it soon passes. The joy that arises out of external circumstances, or things that happen to you has ultimately limited staying power. Authentic joy has little to do with where you are, what happens to you and what you do.
Do what makes you happy
As Sadhguru often reminds us, it does not matter what you are pursuing in your life, whether it is business, power, education or service, you are doing so because somewhere deep inside you is a feeling that this will bring you happiness. Follow your Bliss and Joseph Campbell always reminds you. Every single action that you perform on this planet springs from an aspiration to be happy because it is your core nature. Think about when you were young. It’s very likely you were happy. That is your nature. The source of joy is within you and you can take charge of it.
It’s no coincidence that the Yoga trinity, ‘Sat Chit Ananda’ (Being + Consciousness + Joy) suggests that the fullness of joy is also aligned with pure being – that inner surrender to things as they are. When thinking, desire and expectation are lifted and transformed through yoga, a oneness emerges. This is Joy
So you do not have to do anything to be happy – just be. When you operate from the core of your Being, your essential nature, every dimension of your life – the way you perceive and express yourself and the world will transform. This is what we call at beanddo, taking conscious action or Making Happy Work™.
So the mark of yogi – joy is your fundamental responsibility. Be happy. Only when you can focus on staying happy can you stay open to all the possibilities life brings and help change the world accordingly?
So how to be happy?
First of all, practice.
Remember, yoga practice in all its forms has to do with removing obstacles. Of getting out of your way. If Joy is your essential nature, then you need to express it. Be a portal through which joy and happiness flows. And remember as I often say in my classes, joy and happiness are the same as creativity. Learn to express your true nature. It’s inspiring and nourishing for you and others.
As we know, suffering is not something that just happens out of the blue falling on us from a great height. We create it as a byproduct from the way we think. Almost all of our problems originate in thought. As David Bohm said:
“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely arranging their prejudices.”
― David Bohm
Seven ways to be a portal for happiness and joy:
- Get some perspective – Everything is fine.
What is real for you right now? Is it the thoughts and worries in your head, the emotions in your body or your ever increasing to do list? Or is it that the earth is still turning on its axis, orbiting the sun, that you are still breathing and the birds are still singing? Everything that actually is vital to you right now is still going well (climate emergency accepted). But if the world for you is only what’s in your head, what you think you need, what you expect to happen then it all looks overwhelming and going very wrong for you. I know. I was in that self-created world for a while. It was hard work.
So get some perspective. Find some distance. Yoga practice will help you do that, as you begin to see that the self-created mental world is not real and the thoughts and emotions that come with it have very little to do with the reality of your life .
2. Stop thinking – start seeing
We often say at the beanddo who has your attention? Are you creating your life or is someone or something else doing it for you? Are you the architect of your world? Most of the stuff that you think about is pointless anyway. It’s mostly distraction, habit and delusion placed in your head by others.
That’s the role of social media, to stuff things in your head so that it holds your attention away from what is really important like your actual life. Then you start accumulating habitual impressions, mindsets and misinformation (sanskaras) that get in the way of really seeing what is going on. Recognise when that happens because none of that stuff has anything to do with who you really are.
3. Stop pursuing start doing
We all want to be happy and joyful. Our problem is that we are mostly looking for it in the wrong place. In the industrial ages the pursuit of happiness meant exploiting the natural world for future reward and comfort, which has now put everything in crises.
Strangely, the key to knowing happiness and joy is to give up pursuing happiness by letting go of any thoughts regarding reward and value. Instead, discover how to express your happiness in the universe and just be happy, separate from things and status. Find these moments in what you do and experience the simple joy of doing. You will notice that the most joyful, creative moments in life are moments when you are expressing your joy, not when you are seeking it or even expecting it.
4. Remember to smile – it only takes a few seconds
We often joke at beanddo that the more yoga you do the more you find yourself smiling at strangers. It’s true! If you go around the planet, angry and anxious and wrapped up in your head that’s you reacting unconsciously. You are set by your default mode, your automatic reptilian brain which is characterised by a wandering distracted mind. Instead, be conscious as often as you can. One way of practicing conscious action and bringing yoga to life everyday is to smile at people you pass. You could do it in just two seconds too and express for a moment the joy of being here, connected and alive. That’s pretty much it.
5. Trust experience over analysis – it’s mostly just noise anyway.
When we talk about taking action at beanndo, we are referring to a shift of attention to moment by moment experience/action. Life is about the unfolding creation that is here, knowing it absolutely and experiencing it the way it is; not distorting it the way you think it should be. After a while you will come to see that almost everything you think you need or want or everything you thought or were told you were is just not that important or even useful. What you think has nothing to do with reality. It has no great relevance to life. The mind is mostly just chattering away with nonsense. When you realise that joy happens.
6. Don’t make friends with I, Me and Mine – they will make you unhappy
These three individuals will tell you they have your best interest at heart. They want you to be happy. What they don’t want you to know is that you are already happy. Once you get that insight there is no reason for those individuals, collectively known as ego, to be shaping, interfering and managing your life.
Most people are miserable not so much because of what they haven’t got but how they mistakenly compare themselves to others. We live in a world where we are constantly asked to critically compare. It’s ironic that social media isn’t very social at all. It’s exactly the opposite. It divides, isolates, blames and judges. This is the world of I, Me and Mine. Don’t go there.
7. Take conscious action from the inside – out
So happiness and joy are inside. Those individuals who think that external situations and things are a source of happiness will never know true joy in their lives. As one of my swami teachers told me a long time ago, those amassing more things than they need feel they have very large voids in their lives to fill. We know joy is somehow an internal thing but true wellbeing will come to you only if you operate not from the outside-in but from the inside – out. Start with your interiority, your sense of being first and know that you already have everything you need, and everything will work just fine. Take conscious action, fall back into your original nature, and joyfulness will be your new default.
Tonight is the third of my final four in-person yoga classes in Chorlton before we move southwest and build the beanddo Ananda Barn. Tonight’s theme is Dharma (Purpose). The other two classes will be Joy (Ananda) and Love (Bhakti).