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The Importance on Being Happy in Challenging Situations on International Happiness Day

Painted Desert Vista ©Lynne Buchanan
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Lately, I have been feeling buried by boxes and have to's and should do's and so many do's.  My marriage is ending, I moved, it's tax time, I am self-employed, so much change that anyone's back would break, and indeed in the midst of moving I injured my shoulder, which isn't a great injury for a photographer.  With the injuries and my burdens, my body became more and more hunched over and my horizons started to shrink, even though I know I am on the brink of stepping into a much more fulfilling life.  Finally, today, I told myself I'd had enough.  It is, after all, International Happiness Day, and all this self-pity is frankly boring even me.  

I decide the hell with all the do's and I went to Jaye Martin's yoga class at the Garden of the Heart Yoga Center in Sarasota.  That was the best decision I could have made for this special day.  The Shiva on the Puja was decorated with Nasturtiums from Jaye's garden and he was in a very up mood.  The theme of his class was choosing to be happy in challenging classes and to help us be happy, we paused after he pose to feel the prana circulating through our bodies.  As we were holding Utkatasana for what seemed like an eternity, Jaye reminded us happiness was a choice.  We did lots of heart opening poses to get ready for backbends.  Then, when we got to arm balances, Jaye asked me to demonstrate a forearm balance holding the legs of a chair.  I was definitely afraid and started to contract.  This is a pose I often do, but I have not done it since my shoulder injury.  I said I was a little apprehensive, but he said if I opened my heart and plugged my shoulder in I would be fine.  I did it, because there is no yoga teacher I trust more than Jaye.  Then I did the pinnacle pose and walked my feet down to the seat of the chair as we worked toward Scorpion pose.  I was shocked that I was doing it, but I decided it was going to help and I was going to be happy about it.  At the end of the class, I realized the last remnants of my shoulder injury were gone.  That definitely put me in a better mood.

No matter what is going on in life, no matter what challenges and disappointments we face, if we decide to be happy in the present moment no matter what is going on in the world, we will feel better and chances are our external circumstances will begin to improve.  Happiness is something that no one or no thing can take away from us.  It is our birthright and our choice.  If we heal within and express the light of our own positivity, it begins to shine on our surroundings and make everything around us more positive and bright.  In fact, when we aren't happy and are out of balance, things start going awry around us.  

The Painted Desert is one of my favorite places on earth, as is the Mojave Desert, or any other desert for that matter.  We think of deserts as being uninhabitable and harsh, a place where nothing grows.  Yet, when you look closely, deserts are teeming with life–beautiful desert flowers, tiny microorganisms, unusual animals that find ways to adapt and live in conditions we would think unimaginable.  When I am in the desert, I am always happy because I am inspired by the unlikely life I find there.  It makes me realize that even the harsh periods in our lives contain the seeds for future flourishing and in fact the flourishing already exists in the seed.  Challenges purify our souls and pave the way for us to experience more love for life purely for its own sake.    

In honor of International Happiness Day, be like Yogi Bhajan (as was described in a story to me by a Kundalini yoga teacher).   Raise your arm and shout right on to every challenge you meet in a joyful voice.  How lucky we are to be able to grow and blossom in a world that often seems hostile and unforgiving.  It is up to us if we choose happiness...