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Whether or not you have a good day is a choice you make.
“Make it a great day. Or not. The choice is yours.” – daily closing of the morning announcements at my daughter’s high school
These wise words from the morning announcements at our local high school (as retold by my daughter) are true. Every day we have a choice to “make it a great day.” Actually, every minute of every day we have the choice to “make it a great minute.”
How do you do that?
Yoga wisdom offers some ways to choose happiness in your life.
The young yoga teacher I once was might have suggested (rather blithely) that you surrender to whatever is happening in your life. That instead of resisting change, you embrace it. That instead of struggling or ignoring a challenge, you approach it as an opportunity to grow.
The older, more seasoned yoga teacher in me (the one who has spent a little more time on the planet) knows that some changes in life are supremely hard to embrace and the growth that comes from some challenges doesn’t show up for years. While it’s good to try for these lofty intentions, she would suggest an easier way to turn a tough day into a better day: Keep an eye out for the little graces that you can find on even the crappiest of days.
By making someone else happy, you become happy.
My nearly 21-year-old daughter who has done yoga maybe five times in her life, just told me that all you have to do to have a great day is to try to make it a great day for someone else.
[My response was a moment or two of awed, speechless silence.]
Her understanding of the power she has to have a great day no matter what is going on in her life contains such wisdom. In fact, in one little sentence, she manages to capture much of what yoga has taught me and that I try to teach my students:
- Though you are the center of your own experience, you are not the center of the universe.
- When you live as if you know you are not the center of the universe, life feels better.
- It is important to remember that we are all connected and that everything we do affects others.
- And that we have the choice to affect others either positively or negatively.
- Finally, that choosing to affect others positively by being generous – with kind words and actions – leaves you feeling really good.
This is the true meaning of life.
The Dalai Lama reiterates my daughter’s take on how to be happy:
“We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.”
You never know where inspiration is going to come from. Or how you might inspire someone else.
I suspect on most days most kids in my daughter’s school weren’t listening to the announcements (especially by the end). I suspect the adults in charge knew this. Yet still, they took a few extra seconds to include this inspiring and empowering message. And it seeped into at least one student’s heart who shared it years later with her mom.
My point is, do the good thing. Say the kind words. Even when you’re having a bad day. You might never know how your generosity impacts others. But, as soon as you choose to make someone else’s day a great one, you will realize that your day just got a little better, too.
Choose happiness for yourself and for others by joining our community of yoga practitioners and spiritual seekers.