A while back I wrote an equation for happiness. Sounds crazy I know. But I think it really sums up my perception on how to maximise your happiness. This is why when you practice at the Green Room you will hear all these words commonly thrown into the class.
Your Happiness = (Gratitude + Acceptance + Kindness)
Unfortunately Yoga in the Western world is often limited to a concept of putting our foot behind our head, a super strong workout, or a relaxing airy fairy class taught by a hippie. But it offers so much more. In each and every class you are subjected to subtle messages on how to transform your life. How to start to watch yourself, to control the
way your mind works, to control your body, to master yourself – nuggets of wisdom you will take or leave. Happiness creation is something we are big on at the Green Room – for obvious reasons. Life is simply easier if you learn to be happy. Of course this is always a work in progress. But even the work makes so much difference.
Often at the Green Room you will find your legs shaking, your mind throwing insults and sweat dripping into your eyes as the teacher calmly says ‘Smile.’ “Why? WTF? You expect me to smile, you want me to pretend I am enjoying this aching pain, when
we still have a minute to go?” is usually the facial expression that is shot back at the teacher. But slowly you start to get it. Slowly you start to get that happiness & enjoyment are a state of mind. And that YOU are in control of how your react, and therefore feel. That in that very moment even with your legs shaking like crazy you can stop and detach from the physical and simply focus on being happy. Happy that you are there improving your body, your mind, your strength, your health. Happiness is a choice. This power to detach from the external environment and be happy with what is – is a lesson that empowers your life on and off the mat.
Can you choose to be happy? Are you prepared to work on your happiness equation?
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others... I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” Dalai Lama XIV
Another easy way to manifest more happiness is practising gratitude – another lesson intrinsic to the culture at the Green Room. Too often in today’s society we focus on what we want – or what we don’t have. Be that weight loss, a higher salary, a bigger house, a partner, a holiday – always pinning our happiness on a goal or external element. Start to look within. Start to focus on what you already have. We are so incredibly blessed. Wake up each morning and find 10 things you have to be grateful for. You are alive, you have breath, you have a roof over your head, you have access to food, you have people who love you, you live in an amazing country, you have spare change. ALWAYS there is something to be grateful for. Then start to live your day this way. When you find a challenge or something that upsets/irritates you see if you can find something to be grateful for. Perhaps you can learn something about yourself, perhaps you will see a better way to do something next time. And go to bed again finding 10 things that happened that day that you are grateful for. Remember you are so
lucky. You will start to see a shift if your attitude, and your happiness.
Can you be grateful for today?
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
No situation is negative or positive – another lesson you will be accustomed too – Acceptance of what is. Chair pose – not negative or positive :) Whether it is a crazy arm balance that you just can’t get but the teacher keeps freakin putting it in the class, a work colleague yelling at you or losing your favourite sunglasses. It is your reaction to the situation that determines whether it is positive, negative or neutral. The situation
happened. It itself is a neutral situation until you start to label it. So start to watch your reactions. Most the time they are old thought/behavioural patterns coming into play. Next time you are stuck in traffic, faced with an aggressive person or a sucky situation - Before you react see if you can pause. Watch what you automatically go to – assess if this is appropriate and productive – and then react in an appropriate manner, trying to conserve your energy from yourself. Being upset, angry, etc all waste your energy and really it doesn’t achieve anything.
Can you choose to accept things for what they are?
dropping those dirty expectations.
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
Dropping those nasty expectations is yet another happiness lesson at the Green Room. Have you ever arrived to class feeling freakin amazing and thinking you are going to nail every single pose, including that crazy pose you have been practicing at home. You roll out your mat, feeling strong and ready and then a new teacher walks in. The class is slower, less physically challenging that you expected and you feel jibbed. You came here to work up a sweat, to perfect your poses, and you wanted to show the teacher just how far you have come. Drop that sh*t right now. Expectations lead to unhappiness. Every class no matter who or what the teacher is teaching is an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself. You can take each class and pose to where ever you want to. Yet another lesson that continues in the real world.
Have you ever been to a movie that everyone has talked up for 3 weeks only to be ridiculously let down??? Expectations lead to disappointment. If you start to drop your expectations of everything and everyone around you, life is easier. If you simply accept things as they are and as they happen you are not disappointed as you were not expecting anything different in the first place. One common problem area is putting our own expectations on how others should behave – friends, work colleagues, family. We need to remember that we are all individuals, with different thoughts and behavours. It is simply not fair to put your expectations of the world on other people.
Can you start to drop your expectations of others and situations?
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
Indeed we do have the power to choose to be happy in any moment and this can be enhanced by practicing gratitude, dropping expectations, and reacting appropriately to situations. But if you stop and think about what actually makes you happy in life you will almost undoubtedly find that it is in fact sharing compassion, love and happiness with others that in turn brings happiness to others and yourself.
This is where the concept of Random acts of kindness comes from. Often we preach about random acts of kindness at the Green room as they are an easy way to increase your state of happiness whilst also making the world a better place. Whether they are as simple as picking up someone else’s rubbish, smiling at a stranger, buying food for the homeless, helping a stranger, calling an old friend, donating to a charity, they are all small acts that make a difference.
A few months ago the Green Room set a challenge to practice random acts of kindness. A regular student took this to a whole new level. After experiencing phenomenal life change induced by the Green Room – loosing 12 kilos in a few months, finding acceptance of traumatic life challenges and ultimately finding happiness at a time it seemed impossible- the student decided to share the happiness the Green Room had created with others. The random acts of kindness challenge was taken to a whole new level. They were not random acts of kindness but in fact well thought out and heart filled deeds. We had to share!!!! 7 acts of kindness in 7 days.
1. “For my first act of kindness I thought about how someone would feel if they were frail or unwell like my parents. How it would feel if they were unable to care for themselves but didn’t have family to visit or tell them it was going to be alright. The lonliness exaggereated by disorientation of medication. For this act I found a hospital and I had flowers delivered with a note that read only “These are for the patient that needs them the most.”
2. For my second act I thought about children and how they must feel without parents to care for them… those that had been through something traumatic….those who had never really known a childhood that I had been lucky enough to have had…. Children who felt lost – who might find their way if only they were shown some kindness. So I got some toys and gave them to a refugee appeal an asylum seeker resource center was having.
3. For act number three I thought about the conflict that I’d felt internally and how I’d been taught to breath. I started thinking how essential that was, and what the other essentials in life were – like water. I got to thinking about how there are places in this world where people are feeling conflict just like me but in a more physical sense, and didn’t have easy access to the bare essentials of life. So for this act I funded a clean water project for families fleeing Syria.
4. The fourth act just sort of happened. On my way back from the hospital one day I found $50 on the side of the road. I waited to see if someone would come back but when they didn’t I didn’t feel right keeping it. I thought about the way Korinne makes a room smile, and then really smile. So I got my friends together and we changed the fifty in one dollar coins. We then left them where others would find them. We left them on pay phones, so people could call loved ones on us. We tipped waiters for no reason – just walked in, tipped, smiled and walked out… and we left them in playgrounds for children to find and feel like millionaires or pirates discovering treasure. The hope that each find would inspire a new smile just like Korinne does in class.
5. For my fifth act I thought about what I’ve learnt about myself and how others should be free to learn as well. I’ve been reading the book by Malala Yousafzai the young girl who was shot by the Taliban for supporting education rights of women. Her courage and her as a person are the personification of this thought so to enact this act I gave to a grass roots rural Afghan education program.
6. Number six I thought about how the Green Room was an escape for me… wanting to give a gift of self I called every contract in my phone, one by one, for no reason, just to talk. I let them know how much they meant to me and just listened. Letting them escape, if only for a little while.”
The 7th act was a mind blowing letter to the Green Room. A letter that had me in tears knowing we were helping people find peace and happiness. And at how absolutely big this student’s heart was. It made me so incredibly happy to know that what we do at the Green Room is sending out compassionate vibrations across the region…Image the positive change you can bring into the world by sharing some kindness.
Can you start to work on choosing to be happy? Starting to drop your expectations of others and situations? Starting to practice acceptance of what is? Starting to practice gratitude? Beginning to incorporate random acts of kindness into your everyday life??
Basically the greater your acceptance, your compassion and gratitude, and the less your expectations – the greater your overall happiness.
Millions of books have been written on finding happiness and everyone here on this planet is just trying to find their own happiness. How hard are you working for yours?
Written by Korinne McNeill.
KORINNE McNEILL: Yoga is life for Korinne. Creator of the Green Room Korinne is grateful everyday that she gets to share her passion with others.