The Most Important Lesson I Learned in 2015

Current research challenges the old idea that success leads to happiness. The research doesn't say that success can't lead to happiness, it just doesn't find a concrete correlation. Instead new studies on wellbeing contradict conventional wisdom and the traditional definition of happiness. Science demonstrates that happiness can actually lead to lasting sustained success.

In this view happiness is not defined as a perky personality or a fixed state of exuberance. Success is not simply gauged by the outer trappings of a good life. Rather it points to an inner steadiness, strength and resilience that allows us to "succeed" in spite of ups & downs and triumphs & failures. 

Happiness is cultivated and crafted. We develop this perspective through intentional daily activities and choices. It is like building a muscle. If you don't regularly practice toning and shaping that muscle it will eventually weaken or even atrophy. And that weak muscle can wreak havoc on various body parts as it may not offer the support, stability, strength and even flexibility the body needs in daily movement.

Life is a mystery. We all encounter parts of our journey we'd rather not face. In Indian philosophy there is an epic story chronicling the conflict of a great warrior and his family. He finds himself at a turning point facing a battle he's sure he can't fight. In this moment he calls out to God. Through his conversation with God he is encouraged to realize his own capacities and responsibilites. And most importantly to take a higher perspective or to travel deep beyond the surface. 

At some point we all find ourselves on our own battlefield. Looking out it may seem impossible but by digging deep we find a peace that wasn't in plain sight. I believe in some way and at some time we all call out for help. 

This is how I have come to know happiness. This is what I have learned.  I can do all the "right' things expecting, praying and hoping for the "right" results. Life is not about getting it "right". Life is about getting connected. Getting connected to other people, the Source (God or any name you choose to call that power) and connected to the moment.

To be in the moment without striving is one of the greatest practices of happiness. How can I just be here reacting to what is? If I am truly connected to this moment, this breath, this experience, I can more fully engage with it and let go of struggle and strife. How I choose to connect to this moment can determine whether I grow or suffer. 

2015 was a year of unexpected life changes. Some I wasn't sure I could face. Some I knew I could but wasn't quite sure how. 

Through it all I did many things wrong and right...who knows! But what I did do was connect. I talked regularly with my husband, a few close friends, my teacher and my God. Because of these connections I was able to navigate through it all and at the same time I knew deep down inside I was ok. This is happiness. This is success. This is life.