Where is your happiness? Is it covered up by the noisy thoughts running through your mind? Or the resentment that lurks in your gut? Hidden by fear, pain and anxiety? I wish we didn’t have to seek out happiness but happiness seems to have gone into hiding. Where is it and how can we find it again?
Like the cliche says, happiness is an inside job. Period. No one controls whether you are happy or not, at least no one should. If you let others determine whether you are happy you have forgotten how to protect your most valuable asset. When we are happy life is good, even when circumstances might not be. It’s the magic pill that makes everything OK.
Where is your happiness hiding? Look for it in your heart. Your happiness radiates from the inside, like the sun. It shines from your heart, first filling you with radiance and joy and then shining brightly out to the world. When you are happy you have an inner glow that communicates self-acceptance, loving kindness and inner peace.
Happiness grows out of a pure silent awareness that exists deep within your heart. Your inner peace might be pushed back into the deeper recesses of the heart, out of your conscious awareness, by your noisy mind and bustling life, but it can never be truly eradicated or even invaded by anything from the outside. Each one of us has an abiding eternal peace within; it’s a gift that comes with being human.
We’ve forgotten that happiness is a natural state; it’s not something that is earned.
Are You Ready to Be Happy?
Making sure you know where to find happiness is an essential skill for a fulfilling life.
Being open to happiness is the first step. You wouldn’t believe how attached to misery we can be. It’s almost as if our schools and parents only taught us to be anxious and worried. Somehow we missed the course called “Happiness 101”.
The journey to happiness is a journey of remembering and rediscovering our true nature. Imagine if you were able to cultivate a permanent state of happiness, wouldn’t that make everything in your life brighter and make you a more genuine and generous person?
The Inner Smile
Fortunately there are a few meditation practices that can help us easily cultivate happiness. One of the easiest and most fun is the Taoist practice of the Inner Smile.
Ken (my husband) and I used to teach this to our daughters at bedtime. After we read their favorite books and when we were all relaxed and cozy we would guide them to turn within and practice the Inner Smile.
Steps to the Inner Smile
Here are the basic steps adapted to our modern lifestyle.
The Inner Smile may be done sitting or lying down. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. It’s important to relax and feel like you can breathe easily. Perhaps you might do some full body breathing (for a free Guided Full Body Breathing Audio Meditation click here)
When you are settled bring your awareness to your feet. Wiggle your toes, flex and rotate your ankles and then spread your toes as wide as possible. Breathe deep into your feet and let your body become heavy and weighted downward.
I love focusing on my feet because it is as far away as I can get from my head and all of my crazy anxious and fearful thoughts. Just focusing on my feet brings me back to myself in such a simple way.
Once I’m out of my head and connected to my body I can begin the Inner Smile. At first the goal is to re-discover what inner happiness feels like and then build upon that experience to cultivate a happiness practice that you can truly rely upon.
1. Allow your lips to form a slight smile, not forced, just a little turn of the lips upwards.
2. Feel the difference this little tiny shift makes in your being.
3. Allow that feeling to sink into your body, It doesn’t have to be a big feeling, a little smile can go a long way. We’re beginning with tiny steps that will lead to big steps in the future.
4. When that little smile sinks into your body begin to radiate it to different body parts. At first you will want to experiment. What does it feel like to spread that smile to your heart? To your kidneys, knees or lower back?
NOTE: There is no “right way” to do this practice. It is an experience that is all yours to discover freely without the fear of being tested or graded. Give yourself permission to spend non-judgmental time with yourself!
Each practice session can be as long or short as you want. Don’t worry about time. Do as little or as much as your time allows. Practicing happiness should feel good! Remember to turn those lips up lightly and dive into the practice with a positive attitude. Your happiness is within and waiting for you to find it!
If you have forgotten what true happiness feels like this is one of the most direct paths to remembering it that I know. I’ve been practicing the meditative and healing arts for over 45 years and the Inner Smile is an elegantly simple practice that anyone can master. Have faith, no matter how dark life gets there is a light inside that is waiting to bring a smile to your face!