I was listening to an audiobook called ‘The Wisdom of Groundhog Day’ and one of the striking messages of the book is that if we spent as much time looking after our inner world as we did on our outer world we might have a very different [more positive] situation.
I was also listening to the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show. A lady phoned up about the tax evasion debate and posed an interesting question: “How much money do we need anyway? After a certain amount of money there is only so much you can do and it can’t give you happiness.’
I’m sure we all know someone who on paper seems to ‘have it all’ and yet their goal posts still seem to keep moving. For me this is the idea of postponing happiness. I think we can all relate to the idea that we have felt that once a certain goal had been achieved that was the turning point that we would then be happy. And maybe we were. But then a new goal is set and we focus all our attention on achieving that goal and so it goes on. It is so seductive. For whilst we busy ourselves with longing for the next goal to be achieved, we miss out on the beauty of now. In an acutely goal-orientated world, we deny ourselves the joy of the journey and the present. In our autopilot society, we need yoga and mindfulness to re-focus us on what truly contributes to our happiness. I recommend taking some time out to work out what things truly make you happy. When I did this, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the things I wrote down were free but required time and those that did cost money weren’t extortionate, for example watching the passing clouds, coloured tissue paper, holding one of my pet chickens.
Once you have this knowledge, you can really start to work out how you can change your life to make it more focused on now and less about the past or the future. Certainly we all have barriers to allowing ourselves to achieve a more present lifestyle but unpicking those is a fascinating and worthwhile journey. Being able to re-focus your mind and take action to live more in line with what brings you most fulfillment is perhaps the greatest gift that money can’t buy.
There are some principles in the yogic tradition which support the idea that happiness already exits within us we just have to tap into it through living more- you might say- graciously. Interestingly though, these principles take more effort to cultivate than buying something might do yet they can produce more lasting rewards that can change your happiness perspective. Two of the five yamas (disciplines) include asteya (non-stealing) and aparigrapha (non-hoarding). Asteya can also mean not accumulating more wealth than we need. Aparigrapha is similar to asteya and develops trust in life by believing what you need will come your way. Since a lot of people’s perceived happiness revolves around achieving material goals, we can see that actually letting go of these things and developing trust in life/ caring for others/ the environment are far more powerful ways of gaining mindful and lasting happiness.
The next time you think you need something more, look at what you already have and really savour sensually the ‘beauty’ of it. You may reevaluate whether you really do need more or whether if you change your perspective, you realise the truth that you are already complete.