I recently read a book called “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s funny; I actually bought this book and started reading it on my last journey back to UK from the US. I proceeded to read half of it and then never finished it. It sat on the bedside table on the opposite side of the bed for 18 months untouched. I firmly believe that we will access information we need to access when the time is right. And for that reason I didn’t question that it felt appropriate to start reading this book on my recent trip.
There are many really useful insights on cultivating and taking time to appreciate happiness in your every day life in this book; I highly recommend a read whether you are looking to do your own happiness project or just want a good novel. I think this is a book I will definitely be delving in and out of in the future. I considered passing it onto someone else so I didn’t need to carry it back home, but it feels like I will need to refer to it again at some point so I wedged it in a corner and home with me it has come.
I realized there are many ways I can work towards cultivating more happiness for myself. I won’t detail them all now. I’d like to share two things that I realized are more significant than I had previously given credit to.
Trust my intuition more:
I’ve caught myself on numerous occasions not listening to my gut feeling and then just doing what I think I ought to do, normally because it works for other people. This often is at the expense of my energy and time, which leaves me feeling burnt out, exhausted and a bit resentful of doing whatever I have said I will do.
It’s a hard thing to learn to listen to your own intuition, and I think it can be even harder when it’s for your own good. I realized I have been spending a fair bit of time feeling bad if I’m doing something for myself. A couple of incidents happened during the retreat that made me realize my intuition is often pretty spot on when I am intuiting things for other people.
When we arrived one of my new friends expressed dismay that she hadn’t been able to find an important special item she had wanted to bring with her when she was packing; she didn’t know where it was so she couldn’t bring it. I immediately made a passing comment that I suspected she might find it hidden in her suitcase – if it was meant to be here it would indeed be. Ten minutes later she came bounding back into my room with a massive grin – said item had indeed found its way into her suitcase and was here with her after all!
In the final gratitude circle we had all put a gift in the centre of the circle. As soon as the person that got my gift got up to make her choice I knew she would be the new owner of the mala I had created especially for that present. Sure enough she walked around the circle, stopped right in front of where I was sitting and picked it up the gift I had placed there.
The two examples above are indeed of spontaneous comments that popped out of my mouth and thoughts that crossed my mind. These are different scenarios I agree. However, they served to remind me that my intuition is pretty damn spot on, and so I need to practice listening whole heartedly to what it has to tell me for myself as well as for other people.
Don’t be afraid to communicate my desires to the Universe:
I guess compared to some people I’ve been pretty daring in my life choices; I’ve followed my heart’s desires, sometimes got it right, but also got it wrong. In a world rammed to brim with social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone is doing it better, having it better, and feeling happier than yourself. From my experience this can lead to anxiety, feeling not good enough and feelings of helplessness. Being self-employed can be a lonely affair; it’s not like working in a corporate office environment where you have the support of colleagues and a bigger master plan of the company strategy to direct you. (Although admittedly, as I have discovered, there are also many benefits of not having said corporate guidelines!)
I spent a lot of time in nature on the retreat; it was a great reminder that there is something much more powerful than us at work out there. The power of nature revealed itself through the torrential rain we experienced for the first couple of days, the brilliant sunshine that illuminated the yoga room as we sang in the morning, the sound of the frogs croaking at night, the misty sunrises and the vibration of the land. The universe is indeed a force to be reckoned with, and I was reminded that amongst other things this is a good power to draw on when you feel you need it. It’s not always easy to ask for the big things, or maybe it’s the trusting that they will come to fruition that’s the hard part. Either way, I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that subconscious requests I’ve made to the universe have indeed come true.
It started off on my birthday morning – I was fortunate enough to celebrate my birthday during the retreat. I love being upside down (as anyone who follows me on Instagram will probably know!) and so that morning as I responded to the birthday Facebook messages I had received I joked that I really hoped there would be some birthday inversions in morning practice rather than birthday lying on the roll! Sure enough – that was the only day in the week that we did handstands in morning practice!
The most humorous occasion was our final evening on the retreat. The building I was staying in had steps leading down to it. At night they had been quite dark and I kept forgetting my torch, which meant some careful ascending and descending! (But a good opportunity to practice mindfulness nonetheless!) As we walked up the steps to go to our closing ceremony I commented to my room mate – “Gosh, I really do wish there was a light on these steps” – literally as I spoke a light which had never previously been lit suddenly came on! As my roomie commented – Spirit really does listen and give us what we need! Admittedly, I think sometimes it’s possibly a little more subtle than this “let there be light’ example though!
A couple of days ago I walking down the street and realizing I needed a snack before doing yoga that evening, only to have a packet of gluten free chips thrust into my hand by someone handing out promotional freebies.
Arriving at the SFO airport lamenting the fact that I have yet to ever get upgraded on a long haul flight. I’m trying to be more positive – “oh well,” I told myself, “lets hope the flight will be only be half full”. I’m typing this sitting with three seats at my personal disposal…
Once again, these might be small examples and who knows maybe they were just good luck or sheer coincidence. Or perhaps there a little kick up the butt from the Universe – a reminder that although we do have to put in the hard work to create our own happiness and bring our goals to fruition, it’s ok to ask the Universe to have our back too. That it’s not selfish to ask the universe for what we desire, however big or small it might be.
For me, listening to my gut is a great way to assess whether what I am doing is feeding my Spirit. I’m trying hard to remember to give it the listening ear it deserves, and the little examples I detailed above were a very good reminder that my intuition has something to say which is worth listening to. One of the reasons I love practising SUP yoga is that being out on the water reminds me I’m part of something bigger and more powerful than me. The universe has a lot to offer if only we let it. By communicating my desires and putting my intent out there I still need to put in the hard work, but safe in the knowledge that the universe will create the opportunities that I need to get me where I need to go.