Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu

Tibetan chant meaning May All Beings Be Happy. We chant this often in our classes. Sometimes loudly, sometimes softly, sometimes silently. May I be happy. May You be happy. May all Beings be Happy. You can listen online athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCx0oLCBcqs

Hmmm. Are YOU happy? How do you know if you are happy or not? Recently the United Nations released it’s Happiness Report, analyzing data from 150 countries. Denmark and Norway placed respectively first and second. They were closely followed by Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden. (Note that miserable winters do NOT determine happiness!) Interestingly, our country Canada came in sixth overall! Yay! Angola is the first African country and made one of the largest leap in these surveys, at the 61st place. Of the ten least-happy countries, nine are in Africa and the other is Syria.

Participants were asked two sets of questions: Do you laugh a lot? Are you happy? Do you enjoy life? Do you worry? Are you sad? Are you angry?

The second set of questions examined how they felt about their lot, their life and their prospects.

Here’s a couple of take-away lessons from the report.

1. It (mostly) pays to be rich.

This may be the obvious one. Money may not buy happiness, but it sure doesn't hurt, as even the most cursory glance down the list of the world's happiest countries reveals. The idea was to measure quality of life, not just material gain. They are all expensive places to live. They also have high taxes, spend a lot of money on social welfare programs, and enjoy good health care. There are no wars in these places or malaria and very little corruption.

2. More money means more problems.

On the other hand, warns Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia's Earth Institute and one of the authors of the report, riches can cause stresses and problems of their own. In his introduction to the report, Sachs cites the "persistent creation of new material 'wants' through the incessant advertising of products using powerful imagery and other means of persuasion."

Sachs warns that an advertising industry worth around $500 billion per year is "preying on psychological weaknesses and unconscious urges," and therefore making us less happy. Unhealthy products like cigarettes, sugar, and trans-fats are being pushed to our detriment, he wrote.

In the tradition of yoga, we speak a great deal about ‘wanting mind’......that part of our make-up that creates unhappiness by wishing, wanting and waiting. Wishing that things could be different. Wanting what others have. Waiting for life to begin. We learn to effectively label those thoughts that keep us in a state of discontent, and to refocus our precious energy on being in love with life as it is.

Marc and Angel Chernoff have written an excellent little book entitled 1,000+ Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently. Ultimately, this is about changing our habits. We become what we repeatedly do. If our habits are not helping, then they are hurting! Here are 3 examples from the book that are hints for creating happiness:

1. Focusing on everyone’s story except your own.

Try not to be so satisfied with the success stories of others and how things have gone for them that you forget to write your own. Unfold your own tale and bring it to life. You have everything you need to become what you are capable of becoming. Incredible change happens when you decide to take control. This means consuming less and creating more. It means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and deciding for you. It means learning to respect and use your own ideas and instincts to write your passage.

If you want your life story to soar to new heights, you’ve got to clear a path, reduce the time-sinks and burdens weighing you down, and pick up the things that give you wings. (I LOVE this!) Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day. If you truly care about what you do and you work diligently at it, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish.

2. Holding tight to worries and fears.

You will find that it’s necessary to let some things go simply for the reason that they’re heavy on your heart and soul. Let go of them. Don’t clamp shackles to your own ankles. (I LOVE this, too!) It’s incredibly easy to enjoy more of your life right now, no matter what the situation. It’s just a matter of letting go of the layers of nonsense that are weighing you down.

Let go of your worries and fears, of your rage and jealousy, of your need to always be right and control others. Let go of your pretentiousness and your need to have everything your way. Underneath all these layers of nonsense there is a happy, productive person. When you start peeling them off and simply appreciating everything for what it is, life can be wonderfully fulfilling.

3. Holding on to someone who hurts you.

Sometimes you have to walk away from people, not because you don’t care, but because they don’t. When someone hurts you time and time again, accept the fact that they don’t care about you. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s necessary medicine. Do NOT strive to impress them any further. Waste not another second of your time trying to prove something to them. Nothing needs to be proven. Do not act with any thought of them ever again.

Tough Love! But there is a lot of truth in the hints above. Happiness, of course, exists in the here and now. In the now moment. Not back then, or soon to come...but NOW. Spend time with people who make you happy. Learn to love yourself. And control what you can....let go of what you cannot. We tend to think that life comes at us, not from us; and that our thoughts are a result of our reality rather than the other way around. We are constantly looking outside of ourselves for happiness, when all we need to do is send the search party within.

Above quote from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar