The secret of being happy

Here are several reasons I should never take a yoga class. For starters, I am about as flexible as an oak plank. Forget touching my toes, I can barely touch my knees. Next, I am totally uncoordinated. You want me to put my right foot across what and over where? You mean, like this? Oh, you meant that foot, got it. Finally, there’s that awkward moment when the instructor has you lie quietly on the mat and think deep thoughts. I am not really the type who does quiet well in general (and definitely not at the gym—I’m fairly sure the girl three treadmills down from me knows my playlist by heart). And as far as deep thoughts go, suffice it to say, no one’s ever accused me of having an overabundance of those.


Despite all this, I recently let my friend B drag me to a yoga class. It was typically laughable for me—until the very end. That’s when the teacher stood in front of us and, in a hushed, gentle voice, said, “I want you to think about something that makes you happy.”


Something that makes me happy? Now that got me thinking those deep yogic thoughts. I’m usually pretty chipper but, at that moment, my mind was oddly blank. After a few confusing, inner dialogue moments (my cats?/that’s probably a bad answer/crap/my mom/I love her but she kinda drives me nuts sometimes/crap/why is this so hard/crap!), serious terror started to creep in. Hours after I peeled myself off the mat, I was still struggling to come up with the perfect answer.


Sure, there are plenty of things that make me happy. Skiing fresh powder on my favorite run. Eating spaghetti carbonara. Hanging out on my BFF Suzi’s couch watching a Ravens game. A great day at GL. In some ways, I could go on and on.


But perma-happiness? I don’t think that’s actually possible. Why? Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, without some real lows, you’ll never truly appreciate the happy highs.


And like everyone, I’ve had those moments when I thought a thing (that bag, those shoes) or a circumstance (that guy, those abs) would be the key to everlasting happiness. I’m sure it will shock you to hear that, while shoes are fun and abs are nifty, neither mean ongoing bliss.


The real boring truth? The secret to being happy is always within you. Before you vomit on this page, a quick story. One of the happiest times I remember was a dinner out with my dad, my brother, Suzi, her son Jonathan and a bunch of his buddies. Everyone was eating and laughing and talking to each other about who knows what.


Suddenly, completely without warning, my eyes welled up with tears and I felt this wave come over me. It was almost like I left my body for a second. I remember looking around, seeing my family and friends, all having an amazing time because I had brought them all together. And I remember a voice in my head saying, “This is what happiness is.”


While I’d love to have the ability to summon these moments of pure joy any time I want, I think the beauty of them is that they remain surprising and elusive—part of the magic of life.


What moments aren’t so hard to come by? The everyday ones where, because you are someone’s loving daughter, someone’s fun sister, someone’s loyal friend, you make their world a little brighter. Maybe I know what makes me happy after all.
xo Karen the editor


by Karen the Editor | 2/1/2016
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