Week two of yoga teacher training is complete. I am still not 100% able to say I deserve this – a month of studying something I love. I’m not sure that I ever will be. But what I have come to understand is that happiness should never be considered a luxury item. You shouldn’t give yourself a hard time for being happy. For doing things that bring you joy. Sometimes those things are an amazing month of spending nine hours a day five days per week practicing something you adore. And sometimes those things are simply a drink with a friend or a manicure (I clearly need a manicure as this is the second time I have used it as such an example).
As you can no doubt imagine, we spend a lot of time in class meditating, setting intentions, thanking each other for sharing practice/teaching/learning etc. At the very beginning of yoga teacher training we had to write a letter to ourselves that we would opened the end of school. Perhaps corny – some people wrote dissertations so perhaps it is an exercise that should be indulged in more frequently. My first sentence was – I want to be happy. Don’t get me wrong – I am happy more often than not. I have two beautiful children, a wonderful husband, live in my hometown that I adore and get to spend time with my mother every day. My wanting to be happy isn’t an indication that it is out of reach.
More, I wrote that because I have come to understand the importance of contentment. I made two job changes that were disastrous, one more so than the last. And I made both choices for money. I didn’t leave my job of five years because I was unhappy. I left because people told me, constantly, that I should be doing “more.” Take it from me – never ever let someone else define what that means for you. For me, “more” has always pertained to time with friends and family, not money. “More” has always meant freedom. Both of those jobs were shackles for me. And I understand how that comes off – believe me. If only everyone had the problem of a six-figure salary with free lunch and amazing health insurance. My problem is – I convinced myself that I should value that over all else.
I remember when Eat, Pray, Love came out, a friend told me how inspired she was by the book – that she too wanted to take a year off to find herself. Can’t say I related to it in the same way. Rich white lady indulges herself for a year. Not my cup of tea. But neither was Virginia Wolf’s idea that all a woman needed was a room of her own. Some of us were lucky to have our own corner in a studio apartment. But you can find joy, you can find happiness. It can come in the form of a corner of your town that you love. A standing Sunday phone call with a friend who moved away. A God damned manicure! Just find what it is that makes you happy and promise yourself to indulge. I’m giving you permission.