I am an avid to-do list creator. I write them weekly if not daily, listing every little thing I want to accomplish. Take the trash out, plan a yoga class, respond to emails, water the plants, write my newsletter, clean the kitchen, take a yoga class, go to the grocery store ... If it needs to be done, it goes on the list. The process of creating the list helps me feel organized, and the feeling of completing my list, seeing everything crossed off, is euphoric. I love knowing I had a productive day and I chase that sensation. In order to obtain it, I rush through all of my tasks and find myself in a panicked frenzy. I need to complete my entire list today (an arbitrary deadline). If I do not, then I feel like a terrible person. A nonproductive slob.
When I first learned of raga, or attachment, one of the kleshas in yogic tradition and a cause of suffering, I shrugged it off. I am not attached to any material object. I do not need purses, clothes, a big house, or any sort or things. I do not tie my happiness to objects. I am not attached to anything. Oh I was so naive! According to B.K.S. Iyengar raga is "the emotional bondage to any source of pleasure, manifesting in extreme forms of an inability to let go of anything". Looking back at my obsession with completing a self created to-do list, I'd say I'm rather attached to the feelings I get when I cross off the last item.
My first come back to that realization is "Who cares if you are attached to being productive? That's not a bad thing. It can't possibly lead to suffering." Oh but it can! For example, when I reached "plan your yoga class" on the list I groaned. I knew that it was going to take a very long time and possibly prevent me from competing other tasks on my list. With this mind set, I rushed through the process of planning a class. As a result, I resented something I normally very much enjoy doing (creating suffering when there could be joy), and I usually feel as though I have created a sh*tty class because I did not allow myself time to read, study, and practice (created suffering towards myself instead of happiness). I am so focused on completing the to-do list and obtaining that momentary euphoric bliss that I fail to embrace other joys that are right right in front of me. I am creating my own suffering by holding on to the notion that I must complete all tasks on my to-do list by an artificial deadline. It is ridiculous.
Now, I am not implying that I do not need to complete my to-do list, as all the listed items have to be done. And I am also not saying that I need to enjoy all the tasks on the list (I will never enjoy taking out the trash). What I am trying to suggest is maybe I should release my hold on needing a fully crossed off list at a certain time and to not chase that pleasurable feeling of being done. I should allow myself to experience that feeling when and if it ever occurs, but I should not tie my happiness up with it. Instead, maybe I should start on the list and see where it takes me. Enjoy the things I innately do and take my time.
Raga is a sneaky little thing that latches on in the most secretive ways. And we always have excuses ready to justify why in fact we do "need" A, B, and C. The next time you hear yourself saying "I have to do this" or "I need that", or if you find yourself reluctant to let something go, step back. See if you really do need it to be happy, and what you are giving up if you hold onto it. Now excuse me, I have to go start the next item on my list....
Have you ever had the experience where you're faced with a decision and during your thought process you ask yourself "what should I do", as in "what do people expect me to do"? I have. All the time. For example, during a yoga class an instructor will give us the option of pressing back into Downward Facing Dog or to go through an vinyasa (moving through plank to Chaturanga Dandasana, to Upward Facing Dog, into Downward Facing Dog). My first thought is "I should do a vinyasa". I then ask myself "why?" (All of the inner work of my yoga practice has turned me into a toddler, always asking "why"). Why do I have to do another vinyasa? "Because you should. The teacher expects you to." This same type of scenario happens all the time. I should buy a house. Why? Because thats what I am suppose to do as an adult. I should get a drink with coworkers after work. Why? Because thats what social people do.
More often than not, we act in certain ways and say different things because we are under the illusion that we have to. Someone or something expects us to. I once had a therapist who called this "should-ing" on yourself (get it?). We believe that we should say this and be like that, or we should not do that, or express this because of an undefined expectation. At first it appears that society is putting these pressures on us; however usually it is our own selves. We create these imaginary musts and don'ts, stick rigorously to them, and push away a little voice that cries to do something else. And by conforming to these contrived regulations we are keeping ourselves small and bound by lies. Lies? Yes, we are lying to ourselves every time we ignore that little voice whispering our true desires and needs. We are not being honest with ourselves and acknowledging what is real; instead we create a false picture of who we are.
Satya, or truthfulness, is one of the yamas (restraints or ethical guidelines) that make up the foundation of a yoga practice. To live by Satya means to speak and act truthfully at all times with the intention to help others and do no harm (ahimsa is at the root of everything). This does not solely mean do not tell lies; it also encompasses our behaviors and thoughts. In other words you have to be honest with yourself. What does this look like? For me, this means that I attempt to act and think in ways that are congruent with my core beliefs, my goals, and my body. For example, I may choose to skip a vinyasa in class because my body is tired and I know that if I power through another one I would be lying to myself about what my body can handle in this moment. All actions, thoughts, and behaviors should be in accordance with satya.
This all sounds fine and dandy in theory, but we've been in those situations where we don't know what our "truths" are and therefore don't know what to do. How do we know what "our truth" is? Plus, the word "truth" has a lot of baggage with it. It is tied up with our upbringing, our religions, our political views, etc.Trying to decipher what is our own truth amidst all this chaos is tricky. To navigate this confusion, I purpose we switch the word from "truth" to "real". Instead of asking yourself, "what is my truth here in this moment", ask yourself "what feels real for me in this moment". I like this approach because it removes the baggage of "truth" and it gets us out of our noisy mind and into our body to actually feel what we believe in that moment. Will going through another flow actually feel real for me this time? Maybe by rephrasing the question, it will become easier for us to figure out what our truth is, at least in that moment.
But you can't just ask yourself once and call it good. As Deborah Adele explains in her book The Yamas and Niyamas, truth is fluid and can change over time. Consider what your truths were when you were 9 years old. Chances are many of them are no longer your truths today. Your truth can even shift moment to moment. At one point in class it might not feel real for me to do a vinyasa, but during the next pass it might. It may not be true to my goals to buy a house today. But something might come up in a week that will change that (maybe an affordable house on the market). As such, it is also important to not become rigid in your perceived real-ness or truths. Instead continuously check in. Explore your goals, beliefs, and needs and determine what feels real in that moment. Embody the toddler and ask yourself "why?".
To take this a step further, we can't judge others for their truths either. We are all on different paths and journeys and living different lives, so differences are expected. Forcing our truths on others is just another form of should-ing. You can only speak and do what is real for you, and others hopefully will do what is real for them. We need to honor our truths, as Judith Lasater says, so we can "increase our ability to distinguish the important from the unimportant [and] increase our capacity for compassion towards ourselves and others".
On a side note, of course there are universal truths that everyone can agree on. We should not kill people and we should drink water in order to survive. There are truths that you need to follow. I encourage you to just ask yourself why every time you find yourself "should-ing". If the answer you provide feels real then do it (or don't do it). But don't do something just because of some imaginary expectation. Stop "should-ing" on yourself. Listen to that whisper and stay honest with yourself. Live satya!
I recently had the opportunity to finally meet my husband's extended family and explore a new country. While the trip was incredibly fun, filled with laughter, joy, celebrations, and family, it also challenged many of my beliefs and personal values. As I look back on my experiences I am intrigued by the internal struggles I encountered. There were numerous debates going on in my mind and all of them collided and complexed the other ones. What I thought I knew to be true was no longer certain.
For a mild example, a thought process I had was: "Do I speak up and say I'd rather eat oatmeal for breakfast? Or is that not surrendering to the moment and letting things just happen? But I also need to practice self care (a part of ahimsa) and I know my body will feel better if I eat oatmeal instead of dosa. Or, maybe I'm just attached to my normal breakfast food and I need to let go of my attachment to oatmeal? Also, will I be causing harm (ahimsa again) to Athai's feelings if I don't at least try what she made for breakfast? But then again, if I am acting with the right intentions (taking care of myself), is it really ahimsa?". Just the simple idea of what to eat for breakfast brought up all of these philosophical questions. You can only imagine the internal conversations I had when personalities clashed, when my core values were being tested, or when more important decisions were needing to be made. It was exhausting and totally confusing! I am so thankful for my patient, kind, and thoughtful husband who was able to guide me through these times of mental paralysis.
It still amazes me how being placed in a brand new environment and having all of your routines shaken up forces you to see everything from a new perspective and to question your own behaviors. It truly opens your eyes.
Some say that life teaches you the lessons you need, but I'm not too keen on this concept as it brings to mind a visual of someone being in charge and determining what I need (a discussion for a future blog post). Instead, I like to think of life as a mirror. It reflects you and your actions back at you. It is then up to you whether or not to see the reflection and to do something with it.
On this trip I had a good look at my own reflection and how it interacts with those around me. I was confronted by my own biases, my attachments and aversions, my health, the happiness of my family, and so much more. It was a reminder that the true practice of yoga happens in times of challenge. When life is easy, practice is easy. But when you are pushed into uncomfortable situations, that’s when the real work begins. Sometimes it can be overwhelming as it was for me at times during this trip. But with a great support, I was able to make it through, and you can too. All we can do is keep practicing. Keep questioning. And take a look at our reflections when life holds up a mirror.
"Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
In the last post I talked about the origins of our fears and how we need to try to find out what we are truly afraid of. Fear is a complex, deeply rooted, and powerful emotion that can control our actions and thoughts without us being aware of it. It is therefore so important that we know when we are fearful and understand what it is that we are actually afraid of. But after we've identified the source of fear, then what do we do?Just because we know we are afraid does not make us feel any better or act any differently. How do we move forward and grow with this emotion?
There are numerous theories and practices surrounding the idea of fear and how to overcome or work with it. Many of them seem to benefit people, others seem a bit odd... In this discussion I am going to focus on the practices and concepts that I have personally found to be the most helpful in my own practice. No one idea can be attributed to any one person (at least not that I am aware of); instead it is a melting pot of ideas that I have gathered from my teachers, my readings, my therapists, and my life! My way may not work for you.
To start, we need to acknowledge that we will always have fear. The goal is not to eradicate the emotion. If we had no fear then we would have no sense of self preservation or care for others; I don't think we would be alive. Instead, the idea is to learn how to work with fear and how to use it for our own self discovery and growth.
Fear is an emotion, and like any emotion we have 3 ways to approach it: 1) to act it out, 2) to repress it, 3) to sit with it. When we act out fear, we tend to express it as anxiety or anger; neither of which are particularly healthy mindsets. And repressing emotions never ends well. When our emotions are ignored, they grow stronger and more powerful until we can no longer contain and we explode in a very messy, often destructive manner. Since the first two options are less than ideal, we really are only left with the third option: to sit with the fear, or to be aware of it. Meaning when we begin to feel those fearful sensations or when we know we have been triggered (because we know the source of our fear), instead of leaping into action, thoughts, etc. try to step back and just observe.
Fear lives in the future. We tend to be fearful about what might happen, creating stories about future events. Instead of getting carried away in your imaginative future, draw your thoughts back to the present moment. How do you feel right now? What sensations do you notice in your body? How is your breath? By focusing on concrete and tangible concepts, you can begin to come out of your fear slightly and see what is actually happening. And then, sit with what is happening. I find this the hardest thing to do. To simply observe what I am feeling, be OK with it, and to just feel. It may be tempting to take this step and turn it into repression, shoving it away so you don't act; but don't let yourself. Allow yourself to feel the fear. Say to yourself "This is what fear feels like". Over time and with practice, you will be able to sit with the emotion for longer periods of time. It takes a lot of courage to just sit and be afraid.
Once you recognize that you are fearful, and you can sit with it for a moment, then you can begin the process of confronting it. The strategy I suggest here is to ask yourself "and then what?". For an example, lets consider someone who is afraid of public speaking. She would ask herself "what is the worst possible thing that could happen?". She might answer herself with "I could stutter all of my words, make no sense, and people will laugh at me". The next step is to ask "and then what will happen?". Her answer: "I will be completely embarrassed". "And then what?", "I will go home and eat ice cream to try to feel better", "and then what?", "I will go to bed". "And then what?" "I will get up and start another day". Obviously, this example could go many different ways, but the key here is to track down what will actually occur and acknowledge that you will be OK. If we can visualize ourselves surviving the worst case scenario, then the fear will have less control over us.
There are 2 things that I need to point out here. First, this only works if you are completely honest with your answers. If you say "I will die of embarrassment", that is not true. You will not die simply because you are embarrassed. The second thing is this is an imperfect system. If you catch yourself spiraling down a scary and never ending "and then what" disaster, step out of the exercise and distance yourself from your fear. This may not be the exercise for you.
This three step process for working with fear, (identifying your true, bare bone fear, sitting with the emotion, and then working your way through it) has worked for me and helped me through very scary situations. But that is not to say that this is the strategy everyone should use. The take away here is to begin to acknowledge your fears and recognize how they are controlling your actions and thoughts. It is harmful to you and to those around you to live in ignorance of your fears and to act without recognizing the stimulus. Maybe, after you've begun noticing how much fear interferes with your life, try this exercise or another one to help you work with and grow from your fears. Use your support systems. Your family, your friends, maybe even a mentor, therapist, counsel, or other professional. Fear is consuming our society and we need to put an end to it. And the only way to do so is to first help soothe our own fears. So be courageous with me. Learn about your fears, allow yourself to grow out of them, and lets embrace life!
"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."
- Bertrand Russell
Recently I have been astonished by the dominating effect of fear and how it impacts our lives. Everywhere I look, I see people acting and making decisions from a place of fear. A fear for safety, a fear for stability, a fear of not being liked, a fear for others, a fear of others, a fear of missing out, or even an unidentifiable fear. For me personally, I have noticed that a lot of my day to day and long term decisions are rooted in a fear of something. Why did I not speak up to my coworker? I was afraid to start a confrontation. Why do I follow traffic laws? I am afraid of the consequences if I don't.
Fear, according to the ancient yogis, is also one of the root causes of violence, anger, and hate; all emotions that are dictating our current political and social atmospheres. Since fear is so prevalent and dangerous, I want to explore what fear is and why we are so fearful. Short disclaimer: I am trying to figure all this out myself and might ultimately just create more questions...
Fear is a universal emotion that people from all around the world experience. It is the response we have when we perceive a threat caused by a complex interaction between your sense organs (eyes, ears, etc.), thalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, and other areas or your brain. Hormones and neurotransmitters are released and our sympathetic nervous system kicks in. As a result, our heart rate speeds up, our breath quickens, and glucose is released into our blood stream so our muscles have energy to fight or run. All of these responses are great evolutionarily. If there is a danger we need to be able to act quickly in order to stay alive. But in today's world, our threats aren't always as logical or straight forward as a predator charging towards us and so many things and circumstances can create this acute fearful response. Why are we afraid of so many things?
Scientists were able to demonstrate that all humans, and most animals for that matter, are born with only two fears: a fear of loud noises and a fear of falling*. Think about it. When we hear an abrupt, loud noise our instinct is to duck and we begin to feel our heart beat quicker and you may feel an adrenaline surge in your body; your fight or flight response is activated. The same sympathetic response happens when you misplace your foot while walking and you almost fall. These fears are engrained within us and evolved in order for us to stay alive.
Of course we all are afraid of many more things. Public speaking, flying in planes, looking silly in yoga class; our list of fears is enormous. These fears, it is believed, developed as a result of life experiences and conditioning**. As a child, we learn a lot from observing our parents and those around us and learn behaviors from them. Consider, for example, someone who is terrified of dogs. He may have developed this fear either because he had a bad encounter with a dog (i.e. A dog bit him) or because he grew up in a family or a community where dogs are not pets and viewed as a unpredictable animals. This is vastly different from the person who grew up with 3 pet dogs and who loves the animal. Our environment and our experiences shape our beliefs and our fears.
Which leads us to the interesting, introspective questions of "why do I have the fears I do?", and "how am I conditioned to be afraid of certain situations?" And I challenge you to sit with these questions, ponder them, and explore your fears. I don't mean to imply that your fears are not valid, because they are; but I do believe that knowing what we are afraid of and why we are afraid is critical to moving forward. Living in and acting from fear is not the answer and simply leads to more suffering. So be curious, ask "why", and try to understand where you are coming from. I'm doing the same. Next time you find yourself afraid or anxious, pause for a moment, acknowledge that you are afraid and be empathetic to yourself, and then try to trace the fear back. Find its origin. Maybe you'll realize that you are actually afraid of something completely different. Maybe you will discover your fear has a solution. Maybe you won't find anything at all. No matter what you find, recognizing that you are afraid is a huge first step in moving away from violence, anger, and destruction and towards calmness, understanding, and compassion.
Working in the hospital, one of the most common health conditions I see is high blood pressure, or hypertension. Hypertension affects about 70 million Americans and can lead to kidney failure, heart failure, strokes, it can even cause a person to loose a limb. There are numerous medications we use in the medical field to augment patients' blood pressure, but there are always side effects and the cost can be overwhelming. Luckily, there is a new treatment on the horizon.... YOGA!
Studies have shown that a daily yoga practice can influence blood pressure enough to potentially avoid medications.
How is that possible?
Yoga is hypothesized to increase the sensitivity of the baroreflex. The baroreflex is a homeostatic mechanism, or a way in which the body tries to keep itself in balance. It is a negative feedback loop that balances our blood pressure and heart rate to meet our body's demands. For example, when we begin flowing through fast sun salutations, our initial blood pressure will be too low to meet our muscles oxygen demands. Our barorecptors (sensors located in our blood vessels) notice this and communicate to the brain and to the heart that more blood is needed. In response our heart beats faster (our heart rate goes up) and our arteries constrict (become narrower). These actions increase our blood pressure which in turn increase the blood flow to our muscles, allowing us to complete the sun salutations. This same mechanism can occur in the opposite direction as well, allowing our blood pressure to decrease when our body is at rest.
With all of the positional changes and switches from fast Sun Salutations to calming, resting postures, yoga challenges the baroreceptors and re-sensitize them to small changes in the body. When the baroreceptors are sensitive, our body is able to regulate its own blood pressure under different circumstances. In this way, yoga can help prevent hypertension and some studies even hint that a daily yoga practice can help treat hypertension.
It’s so amazing!! Our bodies are incredibly smart and more than capable of regulating themselves as long as we allow it to do so. Yoga helps us refresh and retune our bodies so it can heal and care for itself. Hypertension is only one of the many common health problems yoga can help relieve. There are also studies showing yoga helping with Diabetes Mellitus, depression, addiction, and more! The ancient yogis have claimed this for years, but now we have scientific data to help prove it. It makes me so happy to see modern medicine acknowledging the traditional practices and beginning to accept them has treatment and preventative modalities.
So the next time you find yourself on your mat, flowing through your sun salutations, send a little gratitude to your barorecptors. Thank them for controlling your blood pressure. And thank yourself for dedicating time to your practice and your health. Who knows, maybe at your next doctors visit you're blood pressure will be lower!
A few days ago I was in the middle of a yoga class, flowing through a sun salutation, pressing back into a downward facing dog, when the instructor crouched down next me and said, "Draw your right foot back so it is in line with the left." What?! I though to myself: My feet are in line with each other. What is he talking about? I can feel them. I looked down at my feet and guess what.... My right foot was in in front of my left. I drew it back so my feet were even and instantaneously I felt my body tense and I heard a little voice peep up in my head saying "Nope. That feels different and uncomfortable. You should go back". Throughout the remainder of class my body kept wanting to go back to that uneven, yet familiar and comfortable foot placement. I had to fight myself to draw the right foot back, to stay aligned. I had to force myself to stay uncomfortable.
Looking back on this experience I am amazed, intrigued, and a little disappointed in how deeply rooted my habits are and how uncomfortable I become when I try to break free. I am a samskara cliché.
The concept of Samskaras is one if my favorites to contemplate and play with (yes I am a yoga nerd). The idea, in a very simplified form, is that we all have ingrained behaviors, conscious and subconscious, that dictate how we relate to and interact with the world around us. The more we practice these behaviors the more deeply engrained they become. Imagine a person walking from point A to point B. Her first trip will only leave a small hint that she was there. However, if she continues to walk on that same trail over, and over, and over again, she eventually will wear down the earth and create a path. This path then becomes the most natural and easiest way for her to travel from point A. The same thing happens, more or less, in your mind. If you repeatedly react to a stimulus in a certain way, or think certain thoughts, you will create paths, or samskaras, in that will begin to determine how you proceed through life. In yoga, these samskaras can be seen as a barrier to enlightenment and unity because they prohibit you from living and acting in the present moment; instead we are basing our actions on past experiences and paths. According to B.K.S Iyengar, we have two types of samskaras: helpful and harmful. The ultimate goal is to remove all samskaras so we are always acting in the present moment; but first we must erase our harmful samskaras by creating helpful ones to replace them. This is done, in my opinion, by identifying the harmful behavior and then making honest, consistent, attempts at veering off that path and creating a new, healthy one.
This is what was happening to me on a very gross level during my asana practice. I had ingrained in my body and my mind, through the 1 hundred billion downward facing dogs that I had performed, that my right foot goes slightly above my left. I do not know why my body initially took that path (maybe it makes the pose easier for me? Maybe I have misaligned hips?), but what I do know is that my current path or samskara is not helping me and could potentially be injuring my joints. And yet, even though I know it is wrong, my body and my mind still resist the change; they want to continue along the same well-worn, easy path.
This example clearly demonstrates just how hard it is to change. We have a subconscious pull to continue doing what is comfortable and familiar. It is hard to take the uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and just different path. But if we want to change, then those new samskaras have to be created. We need to slow down, observe our behaviors, and try to identify just where the path becomes harmful. Then, the next time we find ourselves there, we have to force ourselves to go a different way. It will be hard and it will be uncomfortable; but we need to sit with this discomfort and work through it. We may get lost and we may find ourselves back on the familiar path. This isn't failure this is practice. Every time you come to that fork, take the new path again, and again, and again, until it becomes the familiar trail.
In the past few yoga classes I have noticed it is easier to keep my right foot in line with my left. It still feels weird, but I'm sitting with the discomfort of change and making it stick. I know over time I can create this new path and many others to take over my other harmful samskaras. I just need to slow down, observe, and persevere.
"Be happy for those who are happy".
It sounds so easy and straight forward. Yet this mind set can be incredibly challenging and tricky. I myself have been struggling with this recently and need to get myself out of this destructive funk.
In Sanskrit, this virtue, the cultivation of friendliness towards those who are happy, is called Maitri. In Buddhism, Maitri, or Metta in Pali, is one of the Four Immeasurables, or sublime attitudes (the others being Karuna, Mudita, and Upekkha). Patanjali's Yoga Sutras also describe Maitri along with the other attitudes. He states that when the virtues are practiced consistently, our minds become calm and steady. While it is easy to say "I'm happy for you", to actually mean it is quiet a different thing.
Consider your coworker who recently received recognition. Were you happy for him? Or did you question the recognition and feel a twinge of jealousy? Or maybe the yoga student next to you in class was able to effortlessly rise up into a supported headstand while you struggled to maintain balance. Were you happy for her success in the pose? Or did you become competitive or envious of her? It's almost an impulse to react in such ways; however these mind sets are toxic to our well being.
According to B.K.S Iyengar, jealousy, envy, resentment, and all those negative emotions that come up actually drain energy from us, shrinking and hardening our emotional beings. On the other hand, if we full heartedly feel happy with our friends, coworkers, etc. we strengthen our own internal happiness. The more we look for happiness, the easier it will be to find and integrate into our lives (conversely if we dwell on jealousy or the injustices of the world, our view of the world will be tainted by those emotions).
But how the hell do we cultivate happiness for others when our immediate reaction is envy, jealousy, or even anger? I believe the answer to this is two fold.
First: We have to create a friendship with ourselves. It is impractical to say that we will have joyous relationships with others if we do not first have one with ourselves. We need to be happy with who we are and allow ourselves to celebrate our own victories; finding joy in ourselves. Of course we can take this to the extreme and become egotistical and self-righteous which would defeat the purpose. However, finding that balance between happiness with yourself and the desire to improve will greatly benefit your relationships with others.
Second: Practice. And like all things we practice, we are not going to be very good at first. When a situation arises and you catch yourself feeling jealous, envious, or any of those destructive emotions, pause. Take a moment to observe your reaction. Notice how your body feels when you experience those emotions. Then ask yourself, "what am I really upset by?", "Why am I comparing myself with this person?". After you explore your body's response and your thought process, see if you can find a sense of happiness. It might be a very small pulse of happiness at first. But slowly, with repetitive nourishment, this feeling will begin to grow and eventually happiness will overtake the envy, jealousy, and anger and become your new reaction.
So look for happiness. Dig it out from underneath the negative emotions. Put forth the effort into being happy, both for yourself and for other people. As a result you will have more emotional energy, healthier relationships, and you may even begin to receive some of the joys those around you are celebrating.