Ask anyone what the secret to being happy is, and they’ll throw out at least a dozen responses:
Be true to you. Love yourself first. Do what you love. Love others. Choose to be happy (a difficult feat for those suffering under the staggering weight of depression). While most of us have a pretty good cognitive grasp on how to be happy, the practicality of the matter is a whole different issue. But ultimately, regardless of our efforts, the motive behind what we say, do, and even think plays a powerful role in our happiness.
One of the things that I love about yoga is that it burns away many of the distractions and mentalities that bar us from a sense of peace and happiness. The spiritual side of yoga teaches us to shrug off the weight of things that slow us down, and how to tap into a sense of true joy. If yoga has taught me anything, it’s shown me how to connect to God and my great potential to be happy. What I’ve learned and continue to learn is that happiness starts here: with belief verses expectations.
Belief verses Expectation:
We do a lot of things in life that are selfless, responsible, and noble. Sometimes we do those things because we believe in them and are personally passionate about them. Other times, it’s because we’re expected to do them either through social norms or interpersonal relationships.
When I personally evaluated this, I realized the intention behind everything is huge. When we do something because we genuinely want to do it for ourselves, it goes from being a task to an investment. On the flip side of selflessness, we do tons of things that are supposed to be fun or exciting because that’s what everyone else considers “fun” or “exciting” even though deep down, we might not really enjoy doing those things. We do them to either look impressive, or because we’re trying to fit a norm.
There are plenty of selfless things or fun things I’ve done throughout my life, but I realized some of them were very externally driven. Take snowboarding for instance. I used to be all about it, and part of me really enjoyed it. I’m also terrified of ending up in the ICU with a broken neck (a reasonable fear for an ICU nurse like myself, right?) But snowboarding is exciting, and people classifying it as fun. How could an adventurer like myself not love it? So I kept on snowboarding. Finally, I realized I wasn’t really snowboarding for me. I was snowboarding because it’s in a category for people who like adventure. Even though I thought I’d feel old and unexciting, I retired my board. Instead of a sense of loss, my winters exploded with new and truly exciting possibilities, like dog sledding, snow shoeing, skiing and even just soaking up mountains and snow while I savored a warm mug of hot chocolate with a group of friends. I didn’t miss snowboarding or that quiet dread of breaking my head open on the slopes. I was actually much happier doing things I really liked doing. My time was well spent and I felt boundless joy doing what I loved and discovering new things that interested me.
My husband and I love Harry Potter, I mean, love the series like hardcore nerds. There are people who think watching the movies and reading the books a million times is pretty lame for adults. Fair enough; maybe it is, but it just makes us so happy. You know what doesn’t make me happy? Watching most of the chick-flicks my girlfriends rave about, like 50 Shades of Grey. I had zero interest in watching that movie for way more the fifty reasons, but I felt like if I didn’t act sooooo excited about the film I wouldn’t “fit in” with my girl friends. High school never dies, am I right?! But, I decided to be true to me and not waste my time doing something that I knew would be zero amounts of fun for me.
Time, like money, can be spent either foolishly or wisely. Like money, time isn’t an unlimited currency. So, if something doesn’t bring you a genuine sense of pleasure, maybe it’s time to reevaluate why you’re spending your time doing something that doesn’t really make you happy.
I have friends who don’t really like jazz, but think it’s a requirement for sophisticated adults, so they’ll come with me to listen to music that sounds like a cacophonous mess to them. They’d rather be jamming to One Direction tunes or some other pop songs that make my head hurt. You know what I say? Do it. Put that music on blast. Love what you love, live how you were meant to live. What’s enjoyable to one person might not be to you, and that’s perfectly fine.