Do you know how to be happy?

This week a client asked me, “Do you know how to be happy?” The question took me by surprise. It took me a moment to respond, “Yes, I am always happy.” But it has given me pause to consider a deeper question, “Why am I always happy even when I am suffering and feeling the horror and sadness of another’s life, or even my own?” 

Every day Charisse and I experience nothing but tragedy - rape, violence, poverty, loss, sorrow and death - and yet we are happy, fulfilled and spendlarge portions of our days sobbing with people, but also laughing - non stop. 

Our true nature is one of joy. Joy is the state of consciousness beneath our defenses and pain. The capacity to know our joy is the ability to know our sorrow and pain.The more you sink deeply into your pain and accept it, the more you are aware of you true nature of infinite joy beneath the hurts of life. And then joy and sorrow co-exist in consciousness. Life becomes rich, intense, full - embracing the both/and of it all. Pain loses it’s sting with acceptance and in the warm embrace of your own love, humor - and joy. 

Happiness certainly does not have to do with what we have or achieve.The two young men, Masi and Athi, who teach karate in the township, own nothing.They live in a wooden shack behind someone’s else’s house without sanitation or running water. They know abandonment, poverty, deprivation and pain, and yet they are happy - they accept their feelings, know when they feel hopeless and despair and still exude purpose, meaning, energy and yes, happiness -and they bring it to everyone who has the good fortune to attend their exercise and karate classes.

May we all discover how to be happy.

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
~Jonathan Safran Foer