By Swami Karasananda (Kathryn Romani)

What a Magnificent Being you are – each and every one of you! There are over 6 billion souls living on Earth at the present time and you ARE TOTALLY UNIQUE among them. No one is exactly like you. You have a specific soul history, a personal perspective, and attitude that is YOURS ALONE. Since no one sees things exactly as you do, your awareness of yourself and the world around you is also unique.

Have you ever stopped to think about what a complex unit your body is? You body is composed of 206 bones, 15 million blood cells are created and destroyed every second, your intestines are 12 times the length of your trunk and you breathe 23,000 times a day. If your circulatory system were laid out, end to end, it would circle the globe more that twice! Your heart beats 100,000 times per day and pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through your body every day. Your skin is your largest sense organ and your capillaries are so tiny that 10 of them tied together would equal the width of one human hair. So, when I say you are a magnificent being – it is a HUGE UNDERSTATEMENT.

But as awesome as your body is – you must never lose sight of the GREATEST AWARENESS: that the very essence of you is Spirit.

Consciously being aware of the fact that you are A BODY WITH A SPIRIT can help you look at life from a broader perspective, so that the daily tasks that seem to overwhelm you, end up looking unimportant in the overall scheme of life.

For example, I make up a list of things to do at the beginning of each week. Then, if I get a call from someone who needs a large chunk of my time, my first reaction is panic. How will I manage to do everything I planned to do, and fit in a visit that will surely last a few hours? But when I sit back and look at my week from a higher perspective, it is obvious that my sharing quality time with another person is ultimately far more important than doing food shopping or vacuuming the floor. Therefore, being consciously aware that I am Spirit first, and then a body, helps me prioritize my activities based on what is more important at a soul level, rather than a physical level.

One of my teachers who is a very wise sage has always unequivocally declared that the purpose of life is to be happy. When I first heard this, I thought, “Gee, that’s easy for you to say… your life is so different from mine. You don’t have four kids that need to be driven around to different activities, laundry piling up and a sink full of dirty dishes.” But that thought gave me hope. And after hearing “the purpose of life is to be happy” over and over again, I realized that he was serious. I realized that the happiness he was talking about really was for everyone – no matter how busy your life is, no matter how many problems you face, no matter how hard it is to make ends meet or find time to do everything you want to do. Happiness is for everyone.

One day, something clicked and I realized that I am the only one who can make me happy! No one was going to knock on my door and say: “Here’s a box of happiness for you.” If I want to experience more joy in my life, I AM THE ONE who would have to change my life in order for me to experience that joy. No one else was going to do it for me.

For example, I love flowers in a vase but my husband at the time never gave me flowers because they eventually died and he saw it as a waste of money. For years I resentfully thought, “Poor me. No one ever brings me flowers.” One day I said that out loud and my youngest son asked: “Why don’t you buy flowers for yourself?” Out of the mouths of babes! That’s it! I had never thought of that! I had to love myself enough to give myself flowers. From then on, every week when I did food shopping, I made sure to buy myself a bouquet of flowers and I let one of my children choose it for me. Those flowers bring me JOY all week long. I had allowed my negative thoughts to get in the way of my joy. Now I became the BRINGER of my own joy. How can you bring more joy into your own life?

How did I begin to bring more joy into my life? By making up a list of things that bring me joy. Simple pleasures. Nothing complicated; petting bunnies, watching travel videos, going to the lake during a full moon — simple pleasures that I had denied myself by filling my life with chores and duties that zapped my enthusiasm for life.

My life was unbalanced. I had become a caretaker-aholic. Why? Because I was a perfectionist and control freak who felt that no one could do anything as good as I could. And it was precisely this FALSE PRIDE that kept me from being happy. Thus, I reorganized my life, delegated responsibilities to others in the family and did not try to control the outcome. The beds got made – not as neatly as I would have done – but I learned to let "okay” be good enough. This enabled me to make time to incorporate into my life more of the things from the list of things that make me happy.

What makes you happy? Have you ever really thought about it? Have you ever taken the time to write down a list of things that make you smile? Things that lighten your heart? Things that make your spirit soar? What makes you feel like Life is good? What makes you feel utterly content and at peace?

You make room for the stressful things in your life, Now, give the things that make you happy a higher priority in our life. Some people really have a problem thinking of things that make them happy. If you’re one of them, make a list of things that are causing stress in your life. Then ask yourself: “What can I do differently to eliminate these sources of stress?” Or ask yourself what things makes you sad or angry; then harmoniously eliminate those things from your life.

As you go through life, you peel off layers of awareness, like the skin on an onion. Begin with the physical. Ask yourself: Am I getting enough sleep? Do I eat healthy? Am I drinking enough spring water? Am I too busy? Then move to the emotional: Do I have false pride… a thirst for power or control? Do I want everything to be done MY WAY? If I let go of these desires, will it improve my life? Asking yourself questions like these peels away those layers of awareness that eventually lead to balanced self.

Once upon a yogi time there was a disciple who said to his master, “Master, I beg of you, please take me to the place of unending peace.” And the Master wisely replied, “Beloved disciple, if I take you there, it will no longer be peaceful.” And so, it is with happiness. Happiness is an inside job.

If you have it, it is because you were wise enough to give it to yourself. If you don’t have it, no one else can give it to you. It doesn’t come through osmosis. You have to do the leg work. You need to figure out what makes you happy and how can you incorporate more joy into your daily life. Increasing your awareness of your own needs will help you to achieve this. Many times, the answer lies in “letting go” of past attitudes and actually allowing happiness enter your life.

Life has its ironies. Like how, simply by human nature, we are imperfect. Yet we seem to always be longing to look, act and be perfect. Often times it's our own desire for perfection that creates our unhappiness. Herein lies the irony.

Life is a flow with fluctuations. It is a fact that sometimes you will be healthy and sometimes you will be sick. The secret of JOY is to remain attitudinally happy, regardless of whether you are sick or well. Be happy, regardless of whether you are rich or poor. Choose to be happy regardless of what is going on in your life. “Just be happy.” It’s your choice to make. It’s an attitude or viewpoint adjustment that you can choose to make – and when you do – you will have given yourself the GREATEST GIFT – JOY!

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