Kirsten Mustain

Grove Sun Daily

It is easy to maintain a cheerful demeanor when things are going well.

Say you live a life where you get enough sleep and you have time to take care of the important things, like family, friendship, exercise, and healthy cooking. Say you are satisfied with your career, you feel appreciated, and you are able to trust all your coworkers. Say you have a partner in life upon whom you can depend, a peaceful home life, and no financial worries. Yes, in an ideal world, it is easy to smile – makes me smile just imagining it.

Conversely, when you live in a world where all of the above, or even part of it, is merely a happy daydream, it is easy to fall into despair.

As clichéd as it is, however, the idea that the easiest route isn’t always the best holds true.

Cheerfulness is an inner practice that is not actually related to the things that are happening in the outer worlds we inhabit.

Oh sure, when good things are happening, most people automatically feel glad. (Although I’m certain everyone is acquainted with some people who become extremely uncomfortable when good fortune smiles.)

But when something, or a series of somethings, knocks us out off center, cheerfulness actually becomes much more important.

It has been four years since I taught or attended a yoga class, but I can clearly remember the agony of standing on one leg with one palm on the floor, one leg parallel to the floor, one hand reaching for the ceiling, and not wanting to be the only one who lost my balance and fell. Beads of perspiration breaking out on my forehead, pain slicing my thigh muscles, breath coming in short gasps, I would grit my teeth and hold that pose no matter what. Pretty soon it wouldn’t even be about whether anyone else in class knew or cared if I fell – it would be about proving to myself that I could do it.

Yoga, or any sort of physical exercise that asks us to keep going even after we have left the comfort zone, is excellent practice for life.

Life, after all, is all about continuing and maintaining after the place where one was comfortable has long since vanished from the rear-view mirror.

Friends, family members, and coworkers can all be of enormous help when one loses one’s bearings and it seems like the only option is throwing whatever one can lift through a plate-glass window and sobbing uncontrollably. I know I have been blessed with my share of angels in life.

However, the truth is that sometimes there isn’t anyone else around who is willing or able to pick up the pieces of one’s broken peace. And, even when the is someone there to help, other people, bless their beautiful giving hearts, can only lend a hand, they can’t actually do it for you.

Sooner or later, one must rely upon oneself.

And so, with the humble recognition that people who give advice are usually the ones who need that advice the most, I will relate what I used to tell my yoga students when they were facing crises: the two most important things to remember when trying to balance are your feet and your breath. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and make sure your breath is slow and rhythmic.

The third thing to remember is faith. Faith is not the irrational belief in things that can never be, it is the conviction that there is a way and if you look for it you will find it. It is the knowledge that there is a purpose for everything and everyone, even if you can’t see it from where you’re standing.

Finally, one must remember that it is not up to others to make one happy. The responsibility for your own happiness rests squarely upon your own shoulders.