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Happiness

The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This

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The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This

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message from the moon

message from the moon

Sometimes you lay awake thinking about all of the things.

It’s 1am and your eyes snap open because your brain simply could not wait one more second to tell you:  WHAT ABOUT THESE (MOSTLY IMAGINARY) PROBLEMS??

Had you thought about THOSE THINGS?

You kick the sheets, trying to kick the thoughts.  No go.

Night follows night.  You are no stranger to the darkness.

But then one night you lay awake thinking about none of the things.  Ambivalence—the most insidious emotion—skewers its claws into your ribcage.

It’s too exhausting to care.  What’s the point?

At 3:26am that night, just as you are finally drifting off to sleep, your three-year-old will come into the room because—well it doesn’t really matter why she *says* she comes in every night.  The real reason is that she wants to know that she is not alone in this world and you really can’t blame her for that now, can you?

Or maybe there is another reason she comes in.

You watch, Soldier.  Watch what happens.

After you stroke your daughter's cheek and tuck her back into bed, you will turn, and through the crack in the side of the room-darkening blinds, you will see it:  the moon.

Its brilliance will cut through the night and illuminate your face and cause physical reactions within you.

You’ll gasp, step backwards, and drop down onto the side of the bed with awe.

When was the last time something has cut through the darkness like this?

The white on black, the crisp points of the crescent moon…it’s hard to get that type of clarity in camera.

It’s hard to get that type of clarity in life.

Awe.

There.  There in your moon-trance, you will hear it.  You will finally hear what the moon has been trying to tell you all along.

It’s been trying to tell you this since the very first night that you landed here, but you haven’t had much time for things like moons, have you?

Moon doesn’t mind.

Moon says you were not ready to know then.

You are ready to know now.

Moon is beaming, “I know you think it is the dead of night right now, but that is only in your perception!”

Keep listening, Soldier.  Moon’s message is not only metaphorical but very very literal.

It’s both.

Moon says, “I know it appears to you that the sun has stopped shining but Sun has NEVER stopped shining—NOT EVEN ONCE!!

‘In fact,” Moon is telling you, “Sun is shining RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!  You do not see the sun from where you are standing so LOOK.  I will show her to you!”

And then moon pushes the light of the sun from all the way around the other side of the earth directly to hit your face.

Moon is telling you the light is still accessible, even in the darkest of nights.

“Hold on just a little longer,” says Moon, “and you will not have to try so hard to see the light.  In time you will be SWIMMING in it!  That time is JUST AROUND THE CORNER.  LOOK!”

When you receive this message, oh you-who-is-waking-up, you hug it in tight.  Tuck it into your belly and wrap your knees and clavicles around it and hold onto it for dear life.

Because that’s what’s going to pull you out of this.

Six months ago, I noticed the moon.

That’s when it hit me:  You will not get out of the darkness by laying on your back psycho-analyzing the darkness.  You will get out of the darkness by catching more and more light.

You will not get out by asking, “how did I get here?”  You will get out by asking, “What works?”

Light leads to more light.  Did a little light of mine in footy pajamas not take me by the hand to show me the moon?

So I started looking for more moons:  little slivers of light poking through dark moments.

One moon keeps leading to another.

Look around, Soldier.  Where do you see moons?

YOUR “moon” may not be THE moon, per se.  Maybe the thing that will remind you of your aliveness will be the high that comes after a long walk in the biting cold.  Or the soft nose of a horse.  Or the laugh of your niece.  Or the courage of a seedling reaching towards the sun from a cup on your windowsill.

Whatever your “moon” is, WHEN YOU SEE A SLIVER OF LIGHT, YOU NOTICE IT.  YOU HEAR ME, SOLDIER?

You pay attention to that thing that makes you feel good and alive.

That “moon” will take you to more light.

Which will take you to more light.

And one day soon—I am so sure of this—sooner than you can even imagine—you will belly-crawl onto that brighter shore, exhausted and gasping for air, and you will turn onto your back and sputter towards the sky, “By God, that night nearly killed me.”

But it will not kill you, dear Soldier.

Not if you let yourself be led by the light of the moons.

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Be the Elephant. (Also: Photo Session for Be Present, INC with Coral Brown - Live Love Yoga.)

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bethanyo.com_0066.jpg

Remember the fable about the ant and the elephant?

I didn't either!  Good thing we have children's books to remind us of such things.

Here are the Cliff's Notes:  Ant gets stuck on a reed in a river.  Other animals are snarky and will not help ant.  Elephant kindly and easily swoops ant to safety.  Ant thanks elephant profusely.  Elephant is all, "it was nothing."  Ant quips, "to you, it may have been nothing, but to me it was everything."

[Pause for effect.]

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Okay--just for a paragraph, now--let's leap from children's books to self development literature.  Because we're multi-dimensional like that.

Sonja Lyubomirsky (a positive psychologist whose books are as ground-breaking as her name is hard to spell) has scientifically proven that acts of kindness not only boost the happiness of the person RECEIVING the kind act, but also of the person DOING the act and of anybody OBSERVING the act.

WOAH, right?

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bethanyo.com_0067.jpg

So what do you get when you cross an elephant fable with a positive psychology study?

You get an easy recipe for widespread happiness, that's what you get.

[To flesh that out, the fable shows that seemingly small acts of kindness can be life-altering.  Sonja says those "teeny" kindnesses will help everybody involved in or watching the acts.  So, lots of small acts could help a whole sea of people, right?  (A + B = SEA of Happiness.)]

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Since I like efficiency and I like practicality and I most definitely like happiness, I ask myself:  what is the simplest thing that I can do throughout my day that requires little of me but might mean a lot to someone else?

The answer that comes immediately to mind is:  Smile.  Genuinely.  Soulfully.  Kindly.  Contagiously.

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But let's be real:  can a smile really make a difference in someone's life?  And what in tarnation does any of this have to do with these mind-blowingly beautiful photos of Coral Brown?  

Patience, Dear Readers.  I shall weave those answers into the remainder of this post:  swearsies.  But first I need to address something important.

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Most of us get in our own ways when it comes to happiness.  I've come up with a list of reasons that I think we do this (more later), but one reason is that sometimes we feel GUILTY about being happy.  Who are WE to be happy when so many people have life so much harder than us?  We think we "should" be dedicating time to other tasks or people instead of nurturing ourselves.    Afraid to rub salt on open wounds, we assume that our happiness will make the sad sadder.

But could our happiness make the sad happier?

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A few years ago, I was having a down day.  Not a woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed kind of down day, but a remind-myself-to-breathe kind of down day.  Frankly, I don't remember if I was sad about one thing or lots of things or nothing at all.  It doesn't matter:  I was down.

So I went to yoga, which is one of the action-items on my Emergency Depression Plan.  Basically, when I show my face in a yoga studio, I might as well be pumping out "S.O.S." signals in morse code, because inevitably my spirits are tanking.  I love yoga--really, I do--and some day I will practice it when I am not capsizing.

But not today.

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When I walked into the yoga studio that day, Coral--who didn't know me at the time--was squatting at the front of the room, talking to someone.  She looked up, made eye contact, and smiled at me.  Coral is such a soulful and radiant person that when she smiled, she communicated such tranquility--such LIGHT--that time paused for a moment and I felt peace.

I FELT that smile, Lovely Reader.  I felt it as PEACE in my HEART.

In that slowed moment I knew:  I have been that happy before and I will be that happy again.

I will be okay.

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To Coral, the elephant in that moment, that smile was insignificant:  she doesn't remember it.

But to me, the ant in that moment, that smile was everything.  That smile was hope.  It was assurance.

It was humanity and spirit all at once.

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I think most of us are afraid to be happy.  At a bathtub-deep level of consciousness, we are afraid that if we go around SMILING at people all the time, people will think we are push-overs and try to take advantage of us.

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But if we dive approximately seven leagues deeper than that, we realize that we are actually soul-shakingly SCARED to be purely happy because when we are happy we are vulnerable.  When we are happy, we wonder when the other foot is going to fall.

So we CREATE THE OTHER FOOT by not letting ourselves get super happy in the first place.  It's safer here.

"How genius of us," says I, sarcastically.

[No judgement here, Homies.  Creating the other foot is my M.O.:  I'm freakishly super-human in my ability to create feet where there were no feet before.  If you do this too, you are amongst friends.]

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My point is this:  in most cases, happiness demands infinitely more courage from us than sadness.  People who go around projecting happiness are kind and courageous HEROES, not selfish or ignorant push-overs.

And you have a calling to be one of those heroes.

Taking care of ourselves so that we can truly BE happy and PROJECT happiness is not an act of selfishness but a profound act of public service.

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A simple smile--as Sonja L. would say--not only helps the person we are smiling at, it also helps US and ANYBODY OBSERVING US.

A smile can be a gift of hope, of reassurance, of peace.

A simply smile--which comes so readily and soulfully when we are doing the work--may feel to you as insignificant as the effort required for an elephant to lift an ant.

But the person on the receiving end of your smile might just be thinking, "to me, it was everything."

***

What can you do to be an elephant today? 

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Be Present, Inc. recently hired me to do this photo session with Coral for their spring clothing line.  Check out their beautiful and super-comfy yoga clothes here!

[A photo from our previous session together landed in Yoga Journal!  Hot Dog!!]

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bethanyo.com_0087.jpg

Also.  I can't recommend Coral's yoga classes highly enough!  She's a world-traveler, teaching yoga (and training yoga teachers) all over the globe…lucky for us, Rhode Island is her home.  Here's where to find her.

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bethanyo.com_0084.jpg

Namaste, Loves.

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