Gautama Buddha said…
“Live in joy, in love, even among those who hate.
Live in joy, in health, even among the afflicted.
Live in joy, in peace, even among the troubled.
Look within. Be still, free from the fear and attachment.
Know the sweet joy of living in the way.
There is no fire like greed, no crime like hatred,
No sorrow like hunger of heart, and no joy like the joy of freedom.
Health, contentment and trust are your greatest possessions,
And freedom your greatest joy.
Look within. Be still, free from fear and attachment.
Know the sweet joy of living in the way.”
Those great possessions (health, contentment, trust) and that greatest of joys (freedom) became a powerful inner mantra today, which threaded through yoga class. They created a quiet, steady drumbeat of intention; a reminder of what and why we practice. We’d probably all agree that our happiness depends on all of them, and yet, we seem to find it difficult to consistently hold them all in focus. They take turns with our attention, like too-many dance partners. We succeed in putting our health goals at the forefront and trust falls by the wayside. We hone in on contentment and forget the importance of freedom.
The start of the new year is rapidly approaching; our traditional time for ‘making resolutions’. It’s likely that I’ll trot out my usual self-care refrains – more exercise, more yoga, eat better. But what about the other aspects of life, upon which my happiness also relies? My relationship with David, my friendships, the state of the planet, our nation, my community? What if I took none of what I hold so dear for granted? What if I put the same commitment into all the pieces of my life that mean so much to me?
“Go to the gym three days a week” represents a clear and concise intention. It requires time, energy, attention. Why not show that same love to my country and commit to “write my congressperson once a week”? Or “attend a rally each month”? Or “make a date night with David once a week?” Or “phone a friend every other day?”
This year, let us not take for granted those elements of our lives that make them worth living. I know we’re all exhausted. I’m not talking about taking on another burden. Instead, think of it as giving back to another part of yourself. Everything we love needs love to keep on going. What matters to you enough to give it a tiny bit of your attention, time and energy? Identify it, acknowledge it, remember it, love it. Just a little bit.
Ask yourself, like health, contentment, trust and freedom, what does your happiness truly rely upon? Then, let it rely on you. Show it some love.