Core Practice: Choose to Be Happy

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It’s a personal choice to be happy. Everyone has a high, happy side and a low, bored, angry or depressed side, and which side you live in is determined by the choices you make. The choices that lead to happiness are the ones that challenge us, awaken us, and keep us balanced—they are the choices to meditate and work-out when you’d rather watch TV; to be mindful when you’d rather obsess on something negative; to work on your career when it seems easier to just hang out where you are; and, also the choice to relax and unwind when you know you need that, but want to stay plugged in.

The choices that lead to happiness are the ones that take care of the things that are your responsibility—and just as important, the choices to not take on things that are not your responsibility. On a daily basis, we are presented with numerous choices, both simple and complex, that lead us to either more happiness or less. When you become the person who makes the higher choice by default, you will absolutely feel happier. The good news is that meditation increases your powers of discrimination and will, so it’s easier to both discern the higher choice and follow it.

True happiness isn’t about everything working out your way. It’s really about being in touch with your inner light.

Of course, many of the physical circumstances of our lives are beyond our control, but even in these situations there is a choice to be happy. When you get caught in a major traffic delay, you can bemoan your fate which magnifies the misery of the situation, or you can keep on hand great audio books, podcasts and music to entertain yourself while you are trapped in your car. In more dire situations, like finding out your partner cheated on you or that you have been diagnosed with cancer, there is still an opportunity to be happy. Stick with me for a moment on this one. Sometimes the most painful situations in life can act as a catalyst to finally get us to really stop thought, go into our inner light and experience that we are not who we think we are—to see that we’re made of light and are eternal. This is the happiest of all experiences. When everything is going our way, we tend to not be very introspective. But in truly unpleasant times, in our disillusionment with how we thought our life would go, there is an opening to experience something deeper. So even amidst the crappiest situation, there is a choice to indulge in the difficulties of your life or an option to go deeper into the quiet and deeper into your soul where true happiness resides. True happiness isn’t about everything working out your way. It’s really about being in touch with your inner light.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

 

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Meditation Tip: Meditate Correctly!

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When you begin meditating, the most important thing is to establish a daily practice—you need to focus on just showing up and doing it! Once you are meditating on a regular basis, then the focus shifts to meditating correctly.

You won’t experience the benefits of meditation if you just space out and let your mind wander. In order to meditate correctly, it’s important to not think about other people or talk to other people in your mind. Don’t work on your to-do list or ruminate on projects at work or school. Instead, when you notice you are thinking, simply bring your focus back to the area of focus (chakra, breath, mantra or yantra). Don’t fight the thought or get frustrated that you are thinking—be patient with yourself and just return your mind to the area of focus.

Also keep in mind that a shorter, completely focused meditation is more effective than a longer, spaced-out one.

© 2013-2019 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Core Practice: Love a lot and laugh a lot

MedGalReading2When we love, light comes through our being and brightens us, lightens us and makes us feel happy. The love you express doesn’t have to be towards another person, it can be towards a great number of things—pets, plants, your artwork, sports, challenging experiences. In fact, love has very little to do with a person. It comes from us and it grows the more we love. We are happy when we love. We are unhappy when we stop loving.

Similarly, when we laugh, we relax and light flows through us more easily. It brightens us and makes us feel happy. Laughter and lightheartedness are great balms for our body, mind and soul. When we laugh a lot we are happier people. (It should be pointed out however that laughing at others, their misfortunes, sorrow or pain, will in no way make you happy. This lack of compassion actually decreases the amount of light flowing through you.)

© 2013-21 Sara Weston. Sara is the author of How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Stop caring what other people think of you

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do it.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

People perceiving you as rich, beautiful, lucky, tough or smart will not make you happy, yet you wouldn’t know this if you observed how much time and energy people spend trying to get other people to think they are those things. If people think you have got it made, it won’t make you happy. Just look at celebrities—many people admire them and think they have it made, but clearly it doesn’t make them happy. In fact, given the number of divorces and trips to rehab, you could posit they are one of the least happy segments of the population. So stop being concerned with what other people think of you, it’s a waste of your energy and keeps you from having a quiet mind.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UK,  CAFR , ITES and DEA FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Without the story, where is the problem?

I once flew down to Peter Island, and as I arrived at the hotel, the manager received me with a tall, iced rum cocktail and a heavy dose of frustration and annoyance. She shook her head and said, “Didn’t you check the weather? There’s a hurricane coming, and we’re sending all the guests home tomorrow.” She was really embarrassed for me, but I chuckled a bit at her discomfort—I was the one who had to schlep back to New York without having a lovely Caribbean dive trip, not her!

The next day on the ferry ride to the airport, the other hotel guests assumed I’d been down there for several days like they had, and not wanting to deal with their pity or even self-congratulations that at least they’d have 4 or 5 good days, I didn’t mention that’d I’d just arrived the day before.

Several hours later, back at JFK, I made a call while waiting at the baggage claim. I had just started dating a guy and thought we could go to dinner. I’d met him at work, installing a piece of software on his computer. We’d been flirting for a few weeks, and gone on a first date just a few days earlier. It had ended with a kiss that, well, had a lot of fireworks, so I thought seeing him would be a fun consolation prize. This was pre-cellphone days, so I called Information for his number, and then upon calling him, an answering machine picked up. A young woman cheerfully let the caller know that the two of them weren’t home. I don’t recall her words, but it was obvious she was not a flatmate or a relative, they were a couple. I was shocked that he not only had a girlfriend, but that they lived together! Now the evasive way he responded to my assumption that he lived alone made much more sense. I know I’m a glass half-full person, but I thought this revelation alone was worth the trip!

When I returned to work, I didn’t explain to my co-workers why I was back from vacation early. I was new and didn’t know anyone really well yet, but even so, I could see there was still an opportunity to make a big story about my disastrous trip—all the time and money wasted traveling there and back, the disappointment of not getting to scuba dive, and most of all, the idiocy of not knowing to check the weather before flying to the Caribbean during hurricane season. There was even more opportunity to tell the story about that guy over in Accounting I’d gone on a date with who, turns out, has a girlfriend! But instead, I simply didn’t tell any of these stories. I’d been meditating for several years, and the mind simply didn’t have the drive to tell these stories. I just did my job as per normal, and everything was calm. I didn’t tell these stories to my co-workers, and more importantly, I didn’t tell them to myself, and I literally, and happily, forgot about all of it. What I noticed is that without the story of disappointment, there was no disappointment. Without the story of embarrassment, there was no embarrassment. Without the story of frustration, there was no frustration.

It was after this incident that I became acutely aware that we have the option to tell stories or not. And if we don’t tell them, they don’t exist. It was a moment of recognition of how we make our world with our thoughts. The experience existed, the credit card bill existed, but all the drama around it simply wasn’t there, because I didn’t tell the story. It was a really powerful moment of watching no story arise, and observing how silent and blissful that no-story was.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” Dhammapada, The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Byrom translation

Core Practice: Be Honest With Yourself

Additional Tips2Honesty with yourself is essential to being happy. You have to check that what you are doing in your life is working for you. Sometimes we have such a strong idea of how our life should be and what will make us happy, that we don’t want to face that these ideas aren’t right for us anymore. We may have grown out of them or they may have never been our ideas and dreams in the first place, but instead were imposed by family or society and accepted by us as ours. Other times we have invested so much time and energy to get our life to where it is, that we don’t want to face the fact that it is no longer working. When we honestly recognize that something is no longer working, then from this place of recognition we can begin to change it.

Being honest about what is working applies to all aspects of your life, big and small—whether it’s recognizing that you’re bored with your job and you need to mix it up, or that constantly checking your phone diffuses your focus and you need to dial it down. When you change what is not working in your life, despite past ideas of what you think will make you happy, you will be a happier person.

Note that you don’t have to necessarily share or discuss your internal honesty with others. In fact, if we had to share all our internal insights with others, we’d never be completely honest with ourselves! What matters most is that you are simply honest with yourself.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Who Has Ever Gone Beyond

The student asked the Buddha: “Why is it that wise women and men in the world—priestesses, rulers, and others—always offer sacrifices to the gods?”

The Buddha answered: “They offer things to the gods because as they get older they want to keep their lives as they are and have no misfortunes.”

“But, Buddha, does it ever make any difference to their old age by making these careful offerings?”

“Their prayers and praises and offerings and hopes are all made on the basis of possessions, rewards, and longings for pleasure. These experts in prayer are longing to continue becoming. But it will make no difference to their old age.”

“Please tell me, Buddha, if all the offerings from these experts don’t get them beyond old age, then who has ever gone beyond?”

The Buddha said: “When a person has thoroughly understood the world, from top to bottom, when there is nothing in the world that agitates them anymore, then they have become somebody who is free from confusion and fears and tremblings and the longings of desire. They have gone beyond getting old and beyond birth and death.”

—Sutta Nipata, from The Pocket Buddha Reader

FREE eBook—How to Meditate

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Sara is the author of How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Choices

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
Dhammapada, The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Byrom translation

Core Practice: Exercise daily

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Everyone knows that exercise helps the physical body, but it also really helps clear out our non-physical energy body. In the course of our daily lives we pick up all kinds of stuff—stress from work, tiredness from dealing with family or friends who are having a hard time, stress from relationship, financial woes or simply having too much to do. Exercise helps blow out this buildup, so it makes us feel much happier. If you think of your aura as acting like a sponge that absorbs the feelings and thoughts of those you interact with, exercise is like rinsing and squeezing out that sponge. Women in particular benefit from daily exercise because they pick up even more auric garbage than men.

The type of exercise regimen you follow depends on your level of fitness and your demeanor. What’s important is to find a type of exercise that you enjoy so it’s not something you dread doing. It helps to alternate what exercise you do so you don’t get bored, and for those who are on stationary equipment like an elliptic trainer or treadmill, it’s great to watch TV shows or movies. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before you start up again. She can advise you on a good regimen for your age and fitness level.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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