It all comes down to one question.... Do I want to be happy?

Choose Happiness

I recently turned 60 and have found myself frequently reflecting on my past life, my present life, and what I want to do over the next four decades. My Mom lived into her nineties... and she didn't even practice yoga! So, I could very well live to see my 100th year.

The past 60 years have been absolutely amazing. I often contemplate if it's the result of sheer luck, divine planning or because I have made the right choices along the way.

I think about the choices I made regarding my education, my career, my marriage, my family, my friends, and even the location of our home. I think about the choices I made after my retirement from 30 years in the corporate world. I ask myself, "Why did I choose to practice yoga? To meditate? To become a vegetarian and an avid gardener, growing most of what I eat? How did my past choices impact my current well-being? What has been the driving force behind all my decisions along the path of my life? What is my destiny? Is this normal midlife contemplation?"

I also ask myself, "What choices am I going to make today? Next month? Next year? How can I continue making good decisions?"

My AHA moment came when I was reading Chapter 15 of The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. I realized that I have been faced with only one basic decision throughout my life... "Do I want to be happy or do I not want to be happy"? 

My yoga and meditation practice helps me tremendously on the path of unconditional happiness. Yoga teaches me to stay conscious, centered, and appreciative. Yoga teaches me to be open to accepting both the good and the bad. Yoga teaches me how to let go and be at peace, regardless of external forces. Most importantly, yoga has taught me how to breathe in contentment and keep my heart open, no matter what happens.

It really is that simple. I am certain the driving force behind every choice I've made was the desire to be happy and to enjoy life. I am not consumed by melodrama and negativity because I know I am not on earth to suffer and be miserable.

I realize that terrible things might happen in my future; someone close to me may die, my husband could divorce me, my children could move far away, I could injure myself or contract a terminal disease, my house could burn down or my garden could be infested by nasty pests that eat all my veggies. 

Bad things happen everyday but, as I have painfully learned over the years, I can't control things and keep everything exactly how I want it to be. What I can control is my happiness and it can't be conditional. No ifs, ands or buts. I have the power to choose unconditional happiness for the rest of my life. 

My intention is this: choose to be happy and at peace. When life gets hard, instead of complaining, just laugh, keep breathing, and figure out how to have fun as different situations unfold. 

It takes dedication and practice, but amazing things happen when I choose happiness. 


By Jayne Ashenfelter, Director of Yoga for Recovery