Finding Greater Happiness
Would you say you are naturally a happy person? Or do you find people who are merry and happy a little intense or over the top?
Modern psychology groups people into two groups optimists or pessimists and say that optimists tend to be happier than pessimists.
Maharishi AyurVeda takes it a little deeper and looks towards the doshas and mental qualities of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas for further understanding of how to increase happiness. This timeless wisdom for full life enjoyment locates a place of concentrated happiness deep within. Maintaining a lively connection with this place of bliss within is the primary goal of Maharishi AyurVeda.
Sean Accor – author of “The Happiness Advantage” defines happiness as the joy you feel moving towards your potential.
Why is happiness important?
The Vedic expression “Happiness is the purpose of life” provides a simple and clear focus of the importance of happiness for a fully lived life.
The classical Ayurvedic definition of a healthy individual points to the importance for health and wellbeing of regularly experiencing concentrated happiness in the form of blissful sensory experiences. Scientific evidence according to the Harvard Medical School supports this notion as positive emotions have been shown to help make life longer and healthier.
The Vedic tradition holds this unfoldment of bliss comes from within through the experience of deep transcending which allows the mind-body and senses to bathe in the bliss of the Self automatically restoring and maintaining balance. Transcendental Meditation is a simple mental technique that provides the key to accessing this place of happiness within.
How is our happiness determined?
Positive Psychology say that happiness is
- 50% determined by your genes
- 10% by your circumstances and
- 40% by your attitude, your actions and the way you handle the situations you find yourself within.
Can we impact our level of happiness?
Sonja Lubomirsky author of “The How of Happiness” and Professor at the University of California says there is quite a bit of deliberative action we can take to increase or decrease our happiness.
This is borne out by the World Happiness Report an annual report from the United Nations. The poll scores countries on questions about income, healthy life expectancy, someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust, along with the absence of corruption in business and government. These qualities have been found to correlate with higher levels of happiness.
One researcher suggested that our modern world has a back to front view of happiness. We think that if we work hard, we will be successful and then we will be happy. Research suggests otherwise. Those who work hard and become successful are not necessarily happier. In reverse, often they are stressed, overloaded, burnt out and the happiness molecule serotonin is likely to be low. Also with the constant use of tech our brains experience constant dopamine stimulation creating addictive behaviours. We then become unable to disconnect or switch off. The overstimulated mind becomes frayed and depleted unable to access the social connections and relationships that naturally help to restore our balance.
Strategies that have been found to help increase the neurochemistry of happiness include:
- Meditation – Transcendental Meditation
- Having strong social connections that one can draw upon regularly, especially when one is in need.
- Pursuing activities that engage you fully which creates a state of flow where you lose awareness of time, you aren’t thinking about yourself, you aren’t interrupted by extraneous thoughts, you are active and you work effortlessly.
- Working smarter not harder. Work the hours you are supposed to work and then leave. What is the worst that could happen?
- Logging off – being with your family and friends when you are with them .. not sneakily checking your phone, tablet or computer.
- Enjoying a relaxing bath, spa or sauna.
- Getting adequate sleep.
- Being physically active.
- Getting outdoors and enjoying nature. In Denmark where happiness is rated as high on the world happiness scale, there is a statement – “There is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes.”.
- Random acts of kindness increase happiness within.
- Consciously choosing to be grateful can raise ones internal state from one of pessimism to one of optimism.
- Being positive and experiencing joy in the face of life’s challenges has been found to enhance one’s experience of happiness and to increase success across all areas of life.
- Warwick University reports that we are 12% more productive when in a positive state of mind.
Your Genes, Doshas and Happiness
Your genetic tendencies Ayurveda explains greatly contribute towards the formation of your unique mind-body type which is a combination of the three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Your doshas say a lot about what you will enjoy, and what is likely to create pleasure and happiness for you!
Pitta and Happiness
Pitta people are naturally ‘go-getters’ that like challenges, achieving goals and getting things done!
Friendships are often associated around their jobs or hobbies and can become secondary to their passions or goals. In their striving to achieve for loved ones they can often miss the importance of stopping, connecting and smelling the flowers with loved ones. Sadly some of those moments don’t come again and are best savoured in the moment.
Naturally orderly and Sattvic in nature when Pitta types are exposed to an overload of activity or sensory input, then a Rajasic drive to be successful, to earn more money, to “be the best and then I will be happy” can take hold. Then the natural stillness and joyfulness of the Pitta nature is lost.
Then just like a cat chasing its tail, the never-ending journey begins and just like the cat one never seems to catch one’s tail! As a goal is achieved, the goal post shifts. Sales targets are extended once reached, there is always another level to aspire to, it goes on and on. One works later than is best, takes more coffee and alcohol than is wise, and indulges in other excesses that provide pleasure in the moment but longer-term cause imbalance or burnout. The mental tone may become tired out, judgemental, demanding, sarcastic, critical, controlling, egocentric and of course, “right!”
As the qualities of Pitta increase, warming the blood causing an imbalance in Sadhaka Pitta which is located in the heart area, satisfaction with life and ability to fulfil one’s desires is found lacking. Signs of imbalance such as irritability, impatience, sarcasm and outbursts of anger are the warning signs to take stock. Contentment and compassion are lacking, and one’s behaviour can become demanding and offensive. Life can be intensely frustrating where nothing is good enough (including ourselves) until the underlying Pitta imbalance is addressed.
Then it is both surprising and a great relief when both the intense or “hot” physical, emotional or mental symptoms of Pitta imbalance seem to melt away. Then the naturally sunny and positive Sattvic nature of a Pitta person comes to the fore. By nature, compassionate, chivalrous and charming a Pitta person values fair play and is a natural leader.
Pitta is balanced best through the senses of sight and smell, along with Pitta balancing dietary choices and lifestyle.
- Happiness is restored or enhanced by lifestyle choices that help the Pitta qualities ‘cool down’ with humour, beauty, greenery, watery, sweet aromas, a tasty meal using Pitta balancing food and drinks, with loving company followed by a walk in the moonlight. Ah heaven, one’s happiness rating will soar!
- The herbal I find most helpful for soothing the intense fire of pitta and calming the mind and emotions to support or enhance happiness for the Pitta nature or with Pitta imbalance is MA3323 Ash Gourd Amla Paste.
- Use Rose Water as a spritz to cool the face and neck and sweet aromas like Pitta Balance Aroma Oil to cool your body and soothe your mind. Use it when it’s hot outside, when your skin feels sensitive, or when you feel plain irritable or impatient.
- Drink Pitta Tea and use Pitta Mild Seasoning over your savoury food twice daily.
- Consider using Pitta Skin Care Cream, Pitta Shampoo and Pitta Shower Gel or Pitta Soap which are specially formulated to help maintain the balance of the Pitta dosha.
Vata and Happiness
Vata people are naturally vivacious, quick-moving and speaking who like change and excitement.
No routine life for me thanks says a Vata type. On the go by nature, Vata types often can’t sit still and go from one job to another, leaving some incomplete as their mind reminds them of something that is more important that must be done right now! Their experience of happiness is changeable as would be expected. They can soar to the exquisite levels of sublime happiness and descend into the dark night of the soul as their inquisitive nature leads them to explore life fully.
There is nothing boring about a vata person’s life as they like constant change. Their high energy can be enervating to the slower-paced Kapha type, and frustrating to the orderly Pitta, but Vata types don’t notice as they pass so quickly! Their energy comes in bursts and needs to be recharged frequently. When over stimulated through diet, stress, cold, dry windy weather, over-exercise, lack of sleep and a dis-organised lifestyle, Vata types becomes unbalanced.
Vata is most easily swayed by the impulse of Rajas towards heightened and changing sensory pleasure without due regard to the long term impact. The pleasure of the late-night movie with a late-night meal (oops I just forgot to eat!) are examples of the changeable nature of Vata. Impulsive and erratic in behaviour the mind and body become agitated as the air and space elements become imbalanced. Fear, worry or anxiety start to dominate. Life becomes a series of anxiety-provoking events that trigger a sense of feeling unsafe, ungrounded and at risk. The survival response is full throttle and stuck in the on position. It can become difficult if not impossible to feel safe, at ease and happy until the underlying Vata imbalance is addressed. Then both the physical and emotional or mental symptoms seem to melt away too and the delightful enquiring and happy nature of the Vata person emerges once again.
Vata is balanced best through the senses of touch and hearing, along with Vata balancing dietary choices and lifestyle.
- Happiness is restored or enhanced by lifestyle choices that help the Vata qualities to ‘become settled or calm”’ with warmth, soothing touch such as a massage with Vata Massage Oil, regular meal times, warm food and drink, regular fluid intake, a regular bedtime before 10pm with undisturbed sleep for a good length of time.
- The herbal I find most helpful for calming the changeable qualities of Vata in the body to help remove the grip of fear, worry or anxiety is Peace of Mind (MA1401) tablets. They support the mind’s natural ability to function in a calm, focused and decisive way without reducing alertness.
- Use Vata Balance Aroma Oil to help you unwind and relax. This blend of warm, sweet, and sour essential oils, including geranium, rose, sweet orange and fennel, balances Vata and helps to settle an overactive mind, helps to reduce anxiety, insomnia, aches and pains and low immunity.
- Drink Vata Tea and use Vata Aromatic Seasoning over your savoury food twice daily.
- Consider using Vata Skin Care Cream, Vata Shampoo and Vata Shower Gel or Vata Soap which are specially formulated to help maintain the balance of the Vata dosha.
Kapha and Happiness
Kapha types are the salt of the earth people who love their family and are greatly loved in return.
Naturally relaxed, they don’t take life too seriously and are most likely to be happy just because! Unphased by life’s changes they take situations that would stress a Vata or Pitta person in their stride without seeming to notice. Resilient and down to earth they love connecting with loved ones, friends and colleagues and build friendships that last a lifetime. Social connections are a priority for the Kapha type just as is breathing, eating and drinking. They are a necessity! Maybe that is why Kapha people tend to be the most serene and happiest people.
Naturally non-judgemental, loving and accepting by nature which are Sattvic qualities, when out of balance the dominant mental tendency is guided by Tamas. Tamasic tendencies include resistance (stubbornness) or inertia and confusion. When the heavy, slow sluggish nature of Kapha becomes too much then complacency can become low energy, low mood or depression and resistance to change overwhelming. Comfort eating, weight gain, fluid retention, holding onto hurts from the past, hoarding and stubborn refusal to change arise. Physical signs of imbalance start to dominate. Then happiness becomes covered and a heavy depressive state of sadness, loss or disassociation can arise.
As the underlying Kapha imbalance is addressed the sweet, loving and joyous side of Kapha once again emerges. Then both the physical and emotional or mental symptoms melt away.
Kapha is balanced best through the senses of taste and smell, along with Kapha balancing dietary choices and lifestyle.
- Happiness or balance is restored or enhanced by lifestyle choices that create warmth and stimulation to offset the cold, slow and heavy qualities of Kapha dosha. Favour warm food and drink with stimulating or pungent tastes, a good range of vegetables and fruits like apples, pears and berry fruit. Minimise intake of heavy food such as refined flour, sugar, butter, cream, fried foods, bakery goods, frozen or ice-cold foods, canned, packaged or leftover foods. Eat less meat and animal products and favour more beans, lentils, chickpeas and grains such as barley, millet, buckwheat and rye.
- The herbal product I find most helpful for cleansing the build-up of impurities from a Kapha imbalance is Triphala Rose. When feeling tired or sluggish when you wake, experiencing congestion from colds or flu, or constipation then your entire digestive system needs a workover. Besides helping you to detox, Triphala Rose helps in absorbing nutrients effectively and in restoring your health, immunity and energy.
- To support the function of the heart and nourish the memory of bliss in your cells by helping to remove toxins that can make you feel dull or sad take Blissful Joy (MA1402) tablets. The adaptogenic herbs in Blissful Joy tablets help keep you flexible, alert and energetic. The result is a renewed feeling of energy and happiness and an overall sense of well-being. Now you can lift your spirits naturally.
- Use Kapha Balance Aroma Oil to help uplift your spirits, reinspire and recharge you. Use it when you feel slow and lethargic or when the weather is cool and rainy to bring a little sunshine into your life
- Drink Kapha Tea and use Kapha Spicy Seasoning over your savoury food twice daily.
- Consider using Kapha Skin Care Cream and Kapha Shampoo or Kapha Shower Gel or Kapha Soap and which are specially formulated to help maintain the balance of your Kapha dosha.
Wishing you a very happy day today and every day!
Linda Sinden, Maharishi AyurVeda Consultant
Linda Sinden has been a practising Maharishi Ayurveda Consultant since 1990 and is a regular contributor to our health articles. She has a practice in Auckland, New Zealand and also provides phone or Skype sessions for those who need assistance, but don’t have a consultant in their vicinity.
Mobile: +64 212237525
DISCLAIMER: The information in this document is presented for the sole purpose of imparting education on Maharishi AyurVeda and neither the information nor the products are intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition or are pregnant or lactating, please consult a health professional and it is recommended that you speak with your physician before making significant changes to your diet or routine.