Five Ways To Be UNhappy

No, you didn’t read that wrong!

There are lists everywhere telling us how to be happier, and this article is meant as a push back against those listicles that show us how to hack our way to the “perfect” life.

While they are great inspiration to steer our lives away from unnecessary suffering, they can also be a trap.

Life isn’t perfect. And it’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to be perfect, too.

Yogis, more than anyone, are guilty of Spiritual Bypassing —the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unhealed wounds and all the other “unhappy” parts of being human.

So, yeah, this is a list to help us learn to be uncomfortable and unhappy.

The yoga sutras suggest non-attachment, the yama also called aparigraha as a way to practice this. If we can stay by our own side when things get yucky and release attachment to always feeling good or trying to be perfect, then we build resiliency, confidence and self-acceptance.

1. Stop Resisting

All of us have the tendency to brace against discomfort. But resisting what’s happening causes excess tension. Instead, try to relax as much as possible and accept what you feel, even if you don’t like what you’re feeling. Suggestions: restorative yoga, massage, sauna

2. Breathe

During times of stress, most of us hold our breath or breathe more shallow or rapid. Deep, slow breathing, however, increases vitality, calm and clarity. Take several big belly breaths, as if trying to push your belly out in all directions. Focus on slow, steady exhales to release excess tension and encourage acceptance.

3. Get Moving

Inaction increases stress and makes us feel more helpless than we may be. While we may not be able to solve whatever problem has arisen, physically moving can help release stress that may otherwise stay pent up in the body. Suggestions: walking, tai-chi, dancing

4. Do the Hard Thing

Purposefully practice activities that challenge you, for example, headstand, or standing totally calm and still in line at the grocery store. Do this when you feel supported, or like you have a little extra energy and it will remind you of your strength so you can face other challenges, like the anxiety around trying something new.

5. Practice Presence

It’s human nature to check out when sh*t hits the fan. For some of us it’s through complaining, for others it’s shopping or maybe having a glass of wine to take off the edge. When you notice this tendency arising, feel into your body. Through interoception, or inner awareness, you can bring your attention back to the present moment which is where any coping skills or solutions can be applied.