Take a moment to pause, to breathe, to exhale into the day.
We used to say that to be happy, one must find success. These days, to be successful, we are realizing, we must choose to be happy. With scientific studies shedding light on the fact that attitude can literally change our lives, the field of Positive Psychology has been growing. In this series, Positive Psychology professor and Kripalu faculty member Tal Ben Shahar, PhD, explores the notion of what it means to be truly happy, and what tools we can use to practice the art of happiness.
Tal Ben-Shahar, guest blogger
We all know that change is hard. Much research suggests that learning new tricks, adopting new behaviors, or breaking old habits may be harder than we even realize and that most attempts at change, whether by individuals or organizations, fail. It turns out that self-discipline is usually insufficient when it comes to fulfilling our commitments, even those we know are good for us—which is why most New Year’s resolutions fail.
Barbara Biziou, author of The Joy of Ritual and The Joys of Family Rituals, integrates her extensive knowledge of global spiritual practices, rituals, psychology, and business into her coaching and speaking practice. She is a Huffington Post blogger and has been featured in the New York Times, Oprah.com, PsychologyToday.com, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. www.joyofritual.com
Q Describe what you do in 15 words or less.
J. L. Johnson, guest blogger
When Edmund Hillary set foot on the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, it was his greatest feat: a first ascent that would forever link his name, along with that of his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, to the world’s highest peak. But it wasn’t his greatest challenge. That would come in 1975, when Hillary’s wife and 16-year-old daughter were killed in a plane crash. “It changed everything,” he told Time magazine. “My life disappeared.”
Hillary did eventually remarry, and carried on with vital environmental and humanitarian work in his beloved Nepal. When he died in 2008, it was as a climbing legend who had conquered the unconquerable—but also as a husband and father who’d spent years tackling a much more personal obstacle.
Whether it’s loss of a job or loss of a loved one, accident or illness, sooner or later we all find something daunting that is standing in our life’s path: An obstacle. A roadblock. Or, as suggested by Kripalu Healthy Living faculty member Maria Sirois, PsyD, a mountain: something that can seem insurmountable but can help us learn to value the climbing process itself and give us greater perspective as we rise.
Tama Kieves, guest blogger
You may not know what you’d love to do. Or you may be in the thick of living your passion, but want to take your dream to the heights of wild success. The path is the same. It’s about choosing love instead of fear.
Stay true to your desires. Please don’t make them “practical.” This is an inspired path, not a “reasonable” one. Ignore the experts and listen to your genius. Express what you want, not what you think you can have. Undiluted desire excites you. When you’re engaged, you’re firing on all cylinders. When you’re inspired, you’re unstoppable.
Audra Jamai White, guest blogger
I spent three years on active duty with the U.S. Army, including one year in Iraq, and now I’m in the Massachusetts National Guard. I’ve always strived to be a “super soldier”—perfectionism and being in control were what fueled me. Towards the end of my deployment, I started experiencing depression and anxiety. I’d spend 12 hours on duty and then I’d spend 12 hours in my room, crying. When I went to see the medics for a sports injury they reached out to me and helped, through providing medication and therapy.
Carly Sachs, guest blogger
Outside it is a perfect fall day—lots of colored leaves, blue sky with low-hanging clouds. It’s a day that feels like when I walk outside I’m stepping into a canvas, the day so gorgeous, it seems almost painted, too good to be true. Inside, I don’t feel so picture-perfect. And it’s hard being a yoga intern at a yoga retreat center and feeling bad. Even though I am using my tools—being compassionate to myself (sort of), breathing, meditating, and sharing—it still feels like something is wrong with me.
While I’m outside everything in the world looks perfect, and everything in my life looks perfect: a great romantic relationship, meaningful work, and loving family and friends. But something feels terribly raw and empty inside. The sense is that I’m not doing something I feel I should be doing, but I don’t know what’s missing. Or rather, somewhere I know there is a knowing in me, I just haven’t been able to unlock or translate the message. In this moment, it is a feeling.