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Happiness Is Not the Goal: Cultivating contentment is

Have you ever seen a rolling hillside from a far that looks as though it's a perfectly manicured with it's lush green coloring? This makes you want to just run up to the top barefoot, feeling the softness of each blade of grass caress your feet. But as you get closer, you discover that actuality, it's not a well manicured lawn at all, but small shrubbery and weeds that all blend in amongst themselves, with bare patches and ruts in between. It doesn't look so wonderful now, close up.

Was it all an illusion from a distance?

Well, life is much like that rolling, lush hill. When you see what others have, you can start to feel envious, thinking they have the perfect life, they've been far more blessed than you could ever hope or imagine to be. You might even begin to assume that others came by it so easily, while you had to work your fingers to the bone to have so much less. However: looks can be deceiving, especially when you get up close and personal.

Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying "Comparison is the Thief of Joy" Comparing your work, your life, will only serve to make you unhappy. When you compare yourself to others, you know all the dirty details of your situation; but little about who you are comparing yourself to. Judge your work by your principles and leave comparison out of the equation. When we "think" we want something that someone else has, yet we often fail to look in our own yards to see the many splendid blessings that we ourselves possess? Why is it that we want to drive that expensive SUV, and fly off to exotic destinations? We seem to think that we need to have finely stitched niceties in order to feel good about ourselves and good about our lives.

A sense of status is good when your content and reaching greater limits. Especially when when your fulfilling vocation with purpose. Life is not always "green grass." Things do run smoothly from time to time, but there’s always, a rough patch somewhere on the other side of the fence. Aligning with your ego is a slippery slope with a little more mud and less grass. The more you want something, the more you are affected you will be when things don’t go your way, you slip. Wanting something with every fiber of your body and being denied it, is a torturous muddy pit far away from the green grass.

Your ego is a trap!

We are so often measured by what we have. There is nothing wrong with working hard to accumulate a few things in life. The problems arise when you lose focus of what's really important. We can become so complacent, that many of the things we already possess, seem to have little worth anymore. We find ourselves wanting more. Or, we might think that material gain should come just a little easier, without all the hard work and waiting on time. We fail to look at what we already have, with gratitude, and ultimately, lose sight of their value. When this happens, you begin to feel that the grass is greener elsewhere.

In yoga we have something called the 3 poisons In life. AKA The Causes of Suffering or Dukka—Yoga Sutra II.16

The causes of suffering :

1. Gross suffering

2. Suffering of change and the pervasive suffering of being in a body and mind subject to obscurations, afflictions, aging, sickness and death.

3. The suffering of attachment and aversion

In every translation of Yoga Sutra II.42, Santosha or contentment is interpreted as an underlying joy that cannot be shaken by life’s tough by injustice, hardship or bad luck. Life is not always "green grass." Things do run smoothly from time to time, but there’s always, a rough patch somewhere on the other side of the fence. What if you were to take a closer inspection at what you think is better, before you dove right in head first. You might find that the perfect young couple in the nice house down the street are living a tumultuous life. Those who seem to have all the modern day trappings, might not own a single one of them. I've heard 'that a person's worth is not measured by what they have, but by what they are.' Contentment is accepting life as it is. Not about creating perfection. You can truly be content with only the basics in life if you are content within your own self.

So Flip the Switch! Create a lasting habit that will boost your positive emotions. To increase the frequency of positive emotions, simply train your brain to focus on them, rather than habitual negativity. Like any muscle, you've got to use it, or lose it. Take a closer look at what you think is greener on the other side. You might see weeds, ruts and bumps that you couldn't detect from a distance. Our ego fears the unknown of the present moment. it feels much safer creating a fantasy reality based in greed hatred and delusion. This type of imagination is based in fear. Everyone suffers sometimes, and many people suffer a lot. Compassion is a natural response to suffering, including your own. Self-compassion isn’t self-pity, but is warmth, concern, and good wishes—just like compassion for another person. It's being ok with what you get. You can’t run after contentment, It has to find you. All you can do is try to create a container for Joy. If you release your mind from constantly wanting your situation to be different, you’ll find more peace and at ease.

Rediscover what you already have before you decide to want more, or what someone else has. That way the grass can be greener on YOUR side of the fence and you can have the peace of mind to enjoy it! When you don’t feel content, act for a brief moment as if you were. Kick-start a positive feedback loop, which can generate real contentment. Your inner landscape may not be shiny and bright. Try turning the corners of your mouth up and discover the amazing effect. Practicing smiling is like planting a new tree. The body receives the smile, and contentment grows. Before you know it, you’re smiling all the time. Whether you’re practicing asana hanging with your tribe or living life, remember to find joy in the experience.

Your natural state is Joy.

Smile It changes everything!

This submission is part of an ongoing 5-week series.Interested?

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Like so many others in the West, Stephen began to practice yoga for its health and fitness benefits, and the deeper practice followed naturally. He doubts if it would have happened any other way; had someone tried to push “Eastern” thinking, he would have recoiled. It was a slow, internal process, a growing awareness, the cumulative effects of regular asana practice that awakened a renewed interest in spirituality.

—Stephen BIson ERYT500



Relationships or Money: Fast Company reported on the Journal of Socio-Economics that relationship satisfaction (inner circle) played more of a role in happiness than a $100,000.

Outside is Packed with Benefits: The Journal Global Environmental Change reported being outdoors makes people happier. Turns out the ideal spot for happiness is outdoors near the water and warm weather.

Happiness is the best Opiod: A 2005 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology looked at suffering with arthritis and chronic pain. According to the study, when we experience more positive emotions; happiness, enthusiasm, contentment etc—we are less likely to experience pain.

Happiness is infectious: According to a study out of the British Medical Journal, we can feel happy just by being around other people who are happy. Happiness, the study therefore claims, is contagious. If someone is happy, they can make us happy, and we can in turn make someone else happy. It can go on forever.

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