I was thinking about happiness, spirituality, herbalism, yoga and living in general recently. Call it a confluence of thought leading to an a-ha moment.
Part of it came when I was flipping through a couple of volumes of an annual anthology of best spiritual writing and I was struck by something. Not one of the essays was about helping or even dealing with other people. They were all about turning in or at times about connecting with nature. Nothing wrong with that but I was bothered by how not one essay was about spirituality and helping others.
Then I was thinking about a friend whom I would call a self-help addict. She was always a bit lonely and unhappy, always broke and chronically “busy” running to seminars about improving herself and changing her life as well as buying books about the topic – while never truly connecting with others or actually seeming to find her own happiness since she was so busy in quest of it. I could only help but think how much her fuller and richer (in many senses of the word) her life would have been if she channeled that money and time away from her “self-help” and into connection with others.
In herbalism, one of the most popular requests is about herbs to help with emotional issues that really could be said to stem from being lonely and/or unhappy. And folks go to yoga to often work on themselves in similar ways as well.
While I do think these are valuable tools and great parts of one’s life, I look at some folks using them and think how they are still so aimed just at themselves and change eludes them.
Sometimes, I think when you focus too much energy on yourself and changing yourself it becomes almost like a black hole continually sucking your time and energy inward allowing little light to emerge. There has to be a balance of energy connecting you out and to others. And, as you do, you get positive energy back from them as well. And it becomes a wider web of support and connection supporting you rather than a hole growing ever deeper.
Practicing acts of kindness and connection to others is powerful and profound and should be a part of one’s “self-improvement”, spirituality, yoga and other practices.
I think parents can touch upon that magic with their children (and many folks can with the animals in their lives as well) which is of course why it is so easy to spoil them too.
In other words, make someone happy.
There’s actually a lot of wisdom in that song, which is why I’ve always been fond of it.
So, of course, it is good to be self-aware and work toward changing yourself though whatever modality you are drawn to but try to balance it with energy toward being kind, helping and connecting to others as well. For that is an important part of your practice and growth as well.
Perhaps in finding the balance of that is where happiness can be found.