happy yoga, African Yogi

5 Steps to Happiness

happy yoga, African Yogi
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Want to be happier? Follow these five easy steps…

We are obsessed with measuring and finding happiness. We want nothing more than to distill it into achievable steps so we can check “happy” off our to-do list – right under booking your next holiday and right above cleaning the bathroom. In fact, our global obsessive pursuit for happiness has resulted in the United Nations researching and producing the World Happiness Report year after year. They, like the rest of us, think that if we can find what makes happy people tick, then the rest of us can follow these five or seven or ten easy steps to happiness. If we can learn why certain countries are happy, then all countries can adopt similar practices and we’d all be happy. World peace would be more than just an answer to a question at the Miss Universe contest.

In our states of unhappiness, we study books like The Little Book of Hygge, The Blue Zones, and The Happiness Project with a religious zeal. We make lists about how to change our habits, our clothes, our homes, our jobs to match these blueprints because that’s all we need to do, right? We just need to eat more pickled herring, ride our bikes, snuggle up in a blanket, and light a candle and then we’ll be happy – at least, that’s what the research tells us. Yet, what if none of that works? If we follow the steps and nothing changes, what do we do with the realization that happiness is not about following a prescribed way of living? If no one can tell us how to be happy or if happiness isn’t a series of lifestyle choices, are we doomed to be unhappy for the rest of our lives? Are some people just born happy and others unhappy with no way to change? Yes. That’s it. Thanks for reading! No, of course not.

Sure, going for walks in nature and eating chocolate can boost our moods for a bit, but a boost shouldn’t be confused with achieving happiness. Moving to Denmark or Norway or Finland isn’t the answer either because happiness isn’t something we can find outside of ourselves. True happiness comes from living consciously, from being aware of our choices and their consequences, from an inner peace that only we can cultivate for ourselves. The more we search for happiness, the more it eludes us because it’s not a destination. It is a state of being within us. No one can tell you how to live your happy life because you’re the only one who knows what that is. So, if someone or something is trying to sell you the steps to happiness or teach you how to change so you too can be happy, then they clearly don’t know it themselves.

Now that you know there’s no magic list or 10 step program to work through to attain happiness, let me share my five steps to being happy:

  1. Just look – notice the beauty, it is everywhere
  2. Just listen – hear the constant chatter and the deafening silences.
  3. Just taste – discern the sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami.
  4. Just breathe – take even inhalations and exhalations.
  5. Just be….Happy.