We often forget to celebrate the things that are most important because they are so much with us. One of the few really wise people I have ever met once asked with great puzzlement, “Why isn’t everyone dancing with the sheer joy of being alive?” Everything we do celebrate is a celebration of life, whether it is a birth, a wedding, or an anniversary. We all celebrate religious festivals as touching to some aspect of life as represented by the attributes of the deity, or the passage of some event of our lives. What we need to do is remind ourselves to consecrate every day, take time out at least once a day to quietly experience being alive. And the simplest way to that is to just pay attention to our breathing, which is another wonderful reason to be happy.
Breathing is the key to life and almost every spiritual discipline starts and ends with this, as does life itself. Every moment we are meditating. With every breath we are partaking of all the mysteries of the universe. Just, pay a few minutes attention to a gentle indrawn breath. Within that action is the key to sustaining our life. How does that happen? Whenever I think I need a miracle just to keep going, I stop and pay attention to one or two breaths. Each breath feeds the fire of the heart. Some of us may not be able to eat gourmet food three times a day, but some other are blessed with sufficient food. We must be happy that we do have some food to survive.
Think about those who do not have. We are blessed with all the memories of discovering new wonderful tastes every time we eat them again, and the love that we imbibe with food made by those who care enough about life to prepare good food, a spouse or a friend. I believe that food made by people who love to feed people has special nutritional properties.
If you think that nobody cares enough about you to prepare delicious food, let me invite you to go and get a banana, and pay attention to it. What a marvel of packaging, flavor and nutrition. I am not implying that particular banana was grown just for you as an act of love, or may be I am. It grew, it made its way to you and it will sustain you. Now I can hear you arguing that it was provided by a chain of commerce. What if that chain was forged to that banana to you with out any of the links being aware of the chain’s purpose? Might be, and even if it isn’t, the banana is still pretty amazing in its color, utility, taste and ability to keep us alive. I once knew a man who only ate bananas, all different kinds and he was very healthy. And think about bread. I know that it is not much more than grain and salt and water but think about what that means. Bread, naan, chapatti, tortilla, pain, hobz, brot, or whatever you call it provides us with the elements of the earth. The process of growing, threshing and milling the grain transforms the earth into a form that we can use.
Almost every spiritual tradition uses the fruit of the earth to impart spiritual nourishment along with the calories, whether as communion, Prasad at some temple, dates at Iftar or Karah Prasad at some Gurudwara. I would invite you everyday to take a few minutes to pay attention to the joy that is food. Find something simple to eat, maybe a piece of fruit and take time to eat it with focus, eat it slowly, pay attention to the color and texture than the smell, and the smell, and the taste. If you do not do anything like watching television, listening music or reading something when you are taking meals, you would be happy to experience the transformation of one form of life to another. It may give you internal satisfaction of taking foods in to meet your basic requirements. You would surely be happy to think that you are getting meals peacefully.
All of us have enough to drink and hope that everybody enjoys at least one drink a day as much as I enjoy the first cup of tea. Throughout the day we en joy a wide variety of things to choose from: tea, coffee, juice and a whole lot more. But how often do we appreciate the miracle that is the liquid we drink? We are 70% water. Without a steady supply of water we would only live a few days. Having access to water is really reason to be happy, throughout the day. You may sit in a comfortable chair with a large glass of water and take a small sip of water. Notice something about the water as you swallow. Feel it with you, feel the water’s presence. Take more small sips, noticing different about the water each time until you drink one third of the water. Now take more small sips, this time noticing something about yourself each time. Keep sipping and noticing until two thirds of the water is gone. Now spend time with the remaining third of the water, notice its relationship with the glass, its relationship to you and your relationship to other things in the room.
So, there are a number of really elemental reasons to be happy. Celebrate them everyday. Is this simple? Yes, but that doesn’t mean easy. We are all too often caught up in the drama of the day, our pain, and the effort of work, the demands of family and friends to be full of joy. Yet, we each have a few minutes to celebrate the fire, earth and water and remind our selves to dance.
But there are more than elemental reasons to be happy. You’re reading these lines, which means you know English and most likely at least one other language if your mother tongue is different. Every language is the key to wisdom that only that key can open. Whole worlds are yours to explore, and you also have the keys to the Marx brothers and humor in Language like Mandarin Chinese, Hindi/Urdu, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, German, Bengali, French, Japanese, French or whatever language you might know. Laughing can cure more things than you think. Norman Cousins recounts in Anatomy of an illness how be cured himself by laughing after doctors gave up on him. So, everyday find something that you can laugh about or look for the local chapter of Laughter Club International. You can laugh only when you are satisfied with your life. You can be happy if you know the points of your satisfaction. If you define it sooner, you would be better.
Be Happy – Satisfaction is more important for your life and for your happiness.