I often hear people say, “I’ve given up so much already, how much do I have to give up?”. Many times, they are cancer patients or patients with a degenerative disease that are struggling with a mindset issue.
My question to them is, what would you pay to be completely healthy and able to live your life fully, enjoying each and every day and moment, without the fear of how your disease is progressing?
What if you could look at the lifestyle change in terms of what you are gaining instead of what you are giving up? You can. This simply requires a mindset change. You are in control of what you your brain focuses on. No one else is in control. It is you that is making the decision to allow yourself to be in a suffering state. You get to choose each and every moment to either be in a suffering state or a beautiful state.
What if you could look at foods you once enjoyed (before knowing that they were contributing to your illness), beauty products you now know are toxic, cleaning products that have no place in your home, and be grateful that you know enough now to replace them with things that are good for you? What an empowering feeling it is to have the knowledge to make good decisions about what goes into your body!
What I see every day, is people who are mistaking a momentary pleasure for happiness. Pleasure is eating that cheesecake, or fried food, or drinking that alcoholic beverage. It is often confused in people’s mind with happiness. This is the power of marketing today. They have intentionally set out to confuse you about the difference between pleasure and happiness. Think about the Coke adds on television!
Happiness can only come from within. It is not dependent on what you eat or drink or paint on your toes!
So how do you find this elusive happiness? First of all you set your intention to be happy, no matter what your circumstances. Your illness is part of you. It is not separate from you but instead is a reflection of what you have experienced and caused yourself to experience in your life.
Practice a discipline that will allow you to look deeply into your soul and find truth. That is where your happiness resides. Once you have connected with the happiness within yourself, you will no longer mistake it for fleeting pleasure. You will never feel as if you are giving anything up to gain your health back.
Yoga is where I find my happiness. Just showing up on my mat and spending the next hour or more, focusing on my breath and doing the postures, reconnects me to that inner spring flowing happiness into my universe.
Learning not to judge myself, practicing compassion for what my body can do today and being thankful for my mat and my teacher is a valuable life lesson. Erasing judgement about the teacher, the students, the heat, the cold, my expectations are all part of my practice. Allowing frustration with what my body can and can’t do, accepting the challenge as being what I need that day and being thankful that I am there on my mat are all important lessons for me each time I go.
I have learned that the more I dislike a form of yoga, the more I have to learn from it and how profoundly important that the lesson will be for me.
So, going back to the question that I hear very often from people, “ I have given up so much already, what else do I have to give up?”. Well, the first thing is the attitude of being a victim. You are gaining your health! Write down what you would gladly pay to have that back again.
The second thing is to think about the difference between pleasure and happiness and to find a discipline that connects you to your inner source of happiness.
Let the happiness flow!