a photo of Kari Kwinn, a yoga teacher, pointing to her back

Yoga Teachers: Get Off Your Own Back

Today my social media feed is about people giving up on New Year’s Resolutions, before the new year begins. 

Congratulations for quitting without starting. This is the best way to ensure failure. 

If you’re feeling a bit glum this year, as the economy is unstable, as our leadership leaves something to be desired (like leadership), as you are snuggled into your cozies and hoping for spring, read on. 

a photo of Kari Kwinn, a yoga teacher, pointing to her back

I have some ideas. 

Let me take a gander at your personal story right now, if you’re in the dumps or adrift and feel a bit purpose-less. You had a rough experience. You found yoga. It helped! You decided you wanted to teach. That made it better for a little while. Then you had another rough experience, and another, and maybe a few more, and wondered how it was possible that life is not indeed perfect and problem-free now that you have accomplished your goal of teaching yoga. Now you wonder if you have to be vegan, or lose 10 pounds, or stick a handstand to level-up your happiness. Am I close? The unfortunate thing about the hedonistic treadmill (where we chase goal after goal after goal, and are only happy for a brief moment) is that we are chasing happiness outside of ourselves. 

Happiness does not come with the achievement itself, but with persistence and perseverance. It comes from within. 

For the love of the game? 

To enjoy the journey? 

Happiness is a practice you build. 

A garden you cultivate. 

If you spend your energy trying to look happy, you will look happy. 

You might be able to balance on your hands, wear tight pants, drink green smoothies, chant, assemble a banging playlist, quote from the Gita (in Sanskrit!), make a killer vegan pot roast, and still find that life includes some foul lesson plans. 

So if you’re down and a bit angsty about the idea of a resolution, I implore you to please try this one: Be kinder to yourself. 

It will make you happier, because your loudest critic will be off your back. Do a little bit every day, perhaps as though you are offering an investment in the experience of who you will be tomorrow. Plant the seeds that could grow into experiences you will enjoy, like opening a tidy sock drawer, waking up fresh rather than hungover from alcohol or Netflix, or with a plan you’re looking forward to. It is not a guarantee that the seeds will germinate, that you will feel happy, that life will improve, but you will have done your part. 

This will help you sleep better, (which may indeed be the secret ingredient). Integrate the experiences and lessons of the day. If you learn the lesson the first time, the Universe will not have to raise her voice and make you even more uncomfortable. 

Resolve to create wins. Count them. Share them. Celebrate them. 

Do not give up before you start.

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