I’ve always marveled at how the Dalai Lama seems to be laughing and smiling so much of the time, like he’s in on the secret to bliss. So many of his fellow countrymen and friends have been tortured and killed, yet he continues to exude a boundless joy.
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What can we learn from this? How can we get there too?
Sometimes we put our lives on hold, telling ourselves things like, "I can't be happy until X is accomplished or until Y is over." For instance, it could be until I get the lover, the job or my dad's health is better. To experience true bliss, it's essential to practice being happy in the midst of all these challenges.
Here are some tips that helped me find my personal bliss:
1. Teach your thoughts how to dance toward the light.
Your mind needs direction; direct it toward the light. Consciously push yourself from self-destructive thinking to self-discovery, from judgment to observation. Activities that can help you achieve this include meditation using a mantra (here are tips on how to do mantra meditation) and doing regular yoga practice that challenges your mind along with your body.
2. Experience music and art.
Awakening happiness is a daily practice that requires routines and rituals. Set your day up so magic happens. Play music in your house, car and at the office (if possible). Commit to writing, singing or dancing each morning - or experiencing others' artistic expressions in a fully-engaged way - chose your own art form.
3. Learn something new every day.
Learning keeps us inspired, drenched in enthusiasm and forever young. It awakens our sense of wonder. The magic is already there. You just have to lift the veil so you can feel it and live it.
4. Turn your wounds into wisdom.
Forgiveness allows us to do everything more deeply. Smiling is an ancient mudra. Break it out and allow compassion to be your inner guide and awaken your heart.
5. Give things away and let love in.
When you feel connected, you feel bliss. We suffer when we feel separate. So, do whatever you can to feel connected and to help others feel connected. It could be through extensive service work and projects, or even just by the way you smile at a stranger in a coffee shop. You may have changed another person's life in ways you will never know. Throw it all out there and watch the boomerangs come back to you. We are all in this together.
6. Say “thank you.”
These two words are potent and highly charged with bliss. Gratitude is saying yes to life. Wanting and appreciating what you have and have been given in this lifetime, no matter how big or small, shiny or shabby, is the practice of contentment. It keeps positive energy flowing. You already have all the ingredients for a beautiful life. Love them. Live them.
Being supremely happy is a practice, a daily spiritual practice where in the midst of your life's incredible daily demands and challenges, you practice being - and chose to be - happy and free. Sure, it's great to follow a recipe, especially in the beginning, but then you must make it your own. You must experiment and see what you discover, coming up with your own signature dish.
A quote from To Build a Swing by Hafiz:
"You carry all the ingredients to turn your life into a nightmare, don't mix them!…
...You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy, Mix them, mix Them!"
Readers – How to do you bring happiness into your life on a daily basis? How do you stay connected with people? Do you practice any of the lessons Dana mentions? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Dana Flynn brings an ecstatic expression of movement, music and community to her practice and her students as the co-founder of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centers and Lotus Flow Yoga. The former stockbroker, restaurateur and MTV personality turned a life in the limelight into a spiritual transformation. Connect with Dana on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.