Wouldn't stop picking at it

To hell with the pursuit of happiness

Detail, Herbert Baglione, Planet Earth, September 2015According to my Pocket feed, I bookmark too many articles about creativity, productivity and happiness. The first two make sense, because I’m always looking for new exercises for my creative writing workshops, but I just deleted all the happiness articles.

The pursuit of happiness is making a lot of people miserable. Surveys tell us where the happiest people live, articles give us advice for living happier lives and studies soberly inform us that we are genetically programmed to be only so happy. And yet, no one seems to be getting any happier.

All this talk about happiness is no different than talk about being rich. Being rich, like being happy, is not a wish that can be granted. Riches and happiness, in most cases, are actually the corollary result of hard work, determination and vision. Happiness, in most cases, naturally flows from the right actions and the right words.

Happiness is no longer my absolute goal. What I aim for is sthira sukham (Patanjali, 2.46), or stability and ease, in everything I do. The absolute goal of the yogi is not to look perfect in the pose. The goal is to establish stability and to find a variation that allows the body to find comfort within the pose. Once you have established stability and ease in your practice, the benefits of yoga naturally flow – improved digestion and sleep, better circulation and reduced stress levels, etc.

I don’t wake up every morning with the goal of being perfect. I wake with the intention of attacking every challenge with discipline and good humour, of embracing every joy and staying calm enough to face the unexpected. I don’t aim to be happy, but somehow, in my pursuit of stability and ease, I end up feeling happy.

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To read all the blog posts from my Fall 2015 sabbatical, follow the 63days category.

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