Hello. I am an American woman traveling through New Zealand and India, studying yoga. I’ve seen the effects of success as it’s defined in our culture – material wealth and prestige. The wealthiest people who seem to have such polished and enviable lives can be the most dissatisfied and lonely. I’ve noticed neighbors and friends who have everything, but always want more. I think that trait is in all of us. As Americans, we are given the right to pursue happiness. But in other cultures, do people pursue happiness less and enjoy it more?
I want to immerse myself in ritual and ancient wisdom practices, Buddhism and yoga, to see what they can offer in the face of our materialistic, competitive culture. By taking a pause in the pursuit of wealth and prestige, can I possibly just be happy?
Eat, Pray, Love and The Happiness Project began a trend toward bringing mass awareness to questioning the stereotypical American methods of achieving “happiness”. Maybe not everyone’s path is to marry, have 2-3 children and a 9-5 job. Elizabeth Gilbert took a global journey that took her deeper inward and found that, for her, they were not. Gretchen Rubin had a family, a happy marriage, and a career when she began The Happiness Project, and she approached steps toward more fulfillment at home with techniques like cleaning out her closets and ceasing to yell at her husband.
I don’t seek to criticize anyone’s lifestyle or choices. But I have the flexibility and freedom to travel in search of ideas that whisper, and sometimes call out loud throughout my enjoyable days as a yoga teacher in a Colorado mountain town. Meditation, sitting with focus on the breath and a thought, has cleared my mind of some of its obsessive patterns. Yoga has enabled me, with two left feet, to feel graceful and strong at the same time.
There might be more to my experience of these two practices. And that’s what I seek to find out!