Happiness as a Practice

by Gisele Theriault April 01, 2018

Happiness as a Practice

Whispering secrets to this majestic giant makes me feel very little and unconditionally happy.

Happiness isn’t a mental state that happens to the lucky.
Happiness is a practice.
The only way to honestly practice happiness
is to honestly practice embracing our suffering also.

I know this in my bones yet I dance with its construct, sometimes even wrestle with the practice.

Years ago I used to have extreme panic attacks. Terrifying, awful anxiety that debilitated my thinking capacity, made my body tremble and made me unable to eat.  I was filled with fear and went to every possible avenue for help, a psychologist, psychiatrist, GP, Chinese medicine, naturopath. The one common diagnosis I got from everyone was “You are not having a nervous breakdown, you’re having a panic attack.”
Knowing so many people that suffer from panic attacks, my compassion grew. Wow, there is so much suffering in the world. Being determined not to take drugs, I used meditation and the breathing techniques that I knew. Even though minimal at that time, they helped so much. They helped me function and helped me sleep.
The professionals mostly gave me tips on how to keep the next panic attack at bay. The most powerful teaching came from a friend with a lifetime of anxiety. She said “When it comes, don’t push it away. No matter how uncomfortable it is, embrace it. Breathe with it, it’s just a messenger.” This was the opposite advice that I got from other avenues and it peaked my interest.

It is a natural instinct to try and push away something that frightens us so it took a conscious effort to allow anxiety to be present, even have a voice.  This really taught me that the more I listened to understand the textures of my suffering, the faster it would dissipate and the more I would enjoy the fragrance of my joy. Now I know they are not separate.

I do know when we learn to walk tenderly with our anger rather than letting it pull us around like a slave, we diffuse the anger and minimize our suffering and the suffering we release in the world.

I do know that when we learn to face our fears with lots of love and courage we can diffuse it’s force. Thay use to say that other than learning to be cautious, nothing positive ever comes from fear.

And I do know that since we are not really separate beings but more inter-beings
We are able to practice embracing the suffering of others
And this is connected to practicing the happiness of others.

Practice, practice practice.. until my last loving breath, I remain,

one eternal student,


    Yes indeed.. Only through the heart can you touch the sky. RUMI

Gisele Theriault
Gisele Theriault


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