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The Art of Happiness

Let’s face it, everyone is looking for happiness.  There is not one single person on this earth not searching for happiness in one form or another. Whether in the form of material wealth, love, success, finding your dream job, becoming free. It is true happiness can be found in many areas of life, however lasting and true happiness, or the art of happiness may simply be a choice to. Let me explain my theory.

The desire for happiness might be one of the most powerful aspects of the human condition. It’s the organizing principle behind everything that we do. If you ask yourself, “What do I want?”  When you get an answer, ask yourself, “What would that give me?” When you get an answer to that question, ask yourself, “And what would that give me?” Keep asking yourself this question until you are unable to go any further with this line of questioning. Here is an example:

  1. What do I want? Answer: I want to be rich.
  2. What would that give me? Answer: I would not have to struggle anymore to make ends meet.
  3. What would that give me? Answer: It would give me a sense of security.
  4. What would that give me? Answer: I would not have to worry about money.
  5. What would that give me? Answer: It would give me the freedom to relax.
  6. What would that give me? Answer: It would make me happy.

For me, as a form of exercise, it stands head and shoulders above many other physical fitness regimes.  I speak from experience as a once regular gym user, swimmer and cyclist, which I still enjoy. However I found a regular yoga practice supports my all around wellness goals at a much higher level. A regular yoga practice is probably on par with swimming and walking as a good all-rounder for building stamina and supporting all around fitness goals such as cardio health.  Yoga, when practiced regularly has the ability to improve flexibility.  Quick question, can you touch your toes without bending your knees? Many people believe they are not flexible enough to practice yoga.  I must have heard this misconception a million times.  The truth is, as a beginner yogi, most are not are not at all flexible. That is the beauty of yoga, it meets you where you are, at any level you are at, and takes you on a beautiful journey of self-discovery.  

Yoga also supports muscle strength which protects from arthritis and supports flexibility. How does it do this. Each time you practice yoga asanas such as forward bends, back bends and twists you are in essence ensuring nutrients from the food you eat is carried to the spine, keeping it supple and flexible. Although you can improve muscle strength in the gym, yoga also increases flexibility too. Known to reduce knee, back and overall joint pain through asanas that support the opening of the hips and chest, whist building a strong core. Strengthening the muscles and connectors to improve posture and reduce inflammation and pain.

For me Yoga wins first prize because it also supports a spiritual practice.

Yoga is where I go daily to check in with myself. I use yoga as a chance to focus 100% on me, my body, my mental health, my healing and my wellness. I use Yoga can support physical healing by providing and holding a space for connecting to our true selves. The true self which is vibrant and has the ability to nourish and sooth the body.  Supporting your mental health reducing anxiety, stress and worry.  

Yoga gets you ready for meditation.  At then end of your practice you are in a perfect state to meditate as you have guided your mind to calm and become less busy.  Through the  focus on the breath (pranayama). The breath support the asanas (poses), bringing more oxygen into the body and calming the  mind.If we drill down deep enough into any of our desires, we will ultimately find that what we are seeking is the state of happiness.  How most of us go about pursuing happiness is to pursue those things that we believe will make us feel that way.  These things include:

·       Relationships

·       Money

·       Power

·       Titles, position, or social standing

·       Material goods

·       Alcohol/ chemical substances

·       Aggression

·       The attention of others

·       The feeling of significance

·       Spirituality

There is an unavoidable challenge that we face whenever we purse anything for the sake of achieving happiness. Even if that which we pursue is acquired, the sense of happiness that is gained will be unstable.  Here are some examples that illustrate this:

·       A child begs his parents for a toy. The parents buy the toy, and the child loses interest in it a few days later.

·       A man courts his dream woman. After a while, they move in together. Gradually, the man becomes increasingly unhappy as he becomes annoyed at the things she does.

·       A woman works tirelessly to advance in her career. She finally makes it, only to feel that there is still something missing from her life.

In all these examples, the person is seeking the promise of happiness by pursuing the “objects” that they believe will be the source of it.  With this understanding, we can now go on to discuss the illusions of happiness.


The Illusion of Happiness and the Sense of Self

The pursuit of happiness is inseparable from how we develop a sense of self. Our sense of self is created through the accumulation of external influences, which we personalize. Our sense of self becomes a function of our job title, the people we know, our interests, our roles (i.e., parent, husband, wife, victim), our possessions, our income, our appearance, the opinions of others, and so on.  All of these things are examples of “other referral.”  The term “other referral”  is being used here to describe when our sense of self is based on something outside of ourselves.  In “object referral,” my sense of self is safe as long as my experience of the world matches my expectations. As long as my income does not take a plunge, as long as my relationships are going well,  I will feel good about myself. 

The challenge is that everything in his life is subject to change.  I can lose my job, and my physical appearance will give in to age. Relationship issues will emerge, and my relationships will, at some point, come to an end.  The people in my life may disagree with me, or I could suffer a life-threatening injury. Whenever anything like this happens, my sense of self will be negatively impacted.  It is for this reason that basing our happiness on anything outside of ourselves will always lead to suffering.  Everything in life is transitory and is subject to change. For happiness to be stable, we need to refer to something that is within us.

Searching Within for Our Truth

While “other referral” occurs when our sense of identity is based on things outside ourselves, self-referral occurs when our sense of self is found within.  It is about connecting with that aspect within us that is both eternal and non-changing.  The aspect that I speak of is eternal in that it is always present.  There is a part of you that is aware of everything that you experience. It’s the part of you that knows when you are awake or when you are sleeping if you had a dream or dreamless sleep if you are confused or lucid. It is that part of you that knows that you exist. Regardless of how much your experiences change, it remains changeless.

We have the potential to experience the world while at the same time remaining grounded in that which is eternal and non-changing. We can do this because we are multidimensional beings. Our essential nature is non-physical, while at the same time, we experience ourselves as having a physical form. 

Happiness is what we feel when our tension is released from our physical form. The release of tension causes us to become more closely aligned with our essential selves. You have experienced this many times in the past. You were facing a problem, and it made you feel heavy inside. When the issue was resolved, you felt a sense of relief. In other words, you experienced happiness.  But you experiencing happiness had less to do with what was happening around you than it did you ending your pursuit for a solution to the problem. By seeking solutions, we resist the present moment. Life will flow more smoothly if we accept the present moment first before finding solutions. When we do this, we work with life instead of against it.

To strengthen your connection with your essential self, start to incorporate any of the following into your daily life:

·       Meditation

·       Mindfulness

·       Spending time in nature

·       Journaling – writing down what you are thinking and as you reflect on your day.

·       Get involved in volunteer work – This will help you take your attention off yourself and put it on those you are serving.

·       Paying attention to what you are feeling at any given moment and learn to honor it.

·       Develop an attitude of gratitude – you can develop this by using your journal to document what you are grateful for on a daily basis, try to find 3 – 6 things per day

 Strengthening your connection to your true self will essentially improve you life from the inside out. Developing yourself from the inside out can have a myriad of benefits. Becoming a happier, content, peaceful person.  Understanding yourself and your undiscovered skills and talents will increase your confidence and improve your overall mental health and well being.


Tranto, Castle Bruce, Dominica.


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The LaidBack Experience Beach Resort is a registered business in Dominica. Registered 2021