How to be Happy

How to be Happy

Lessons from the Yoga Sutras


Happiness (hapɪnəs)

  • noun
  • Definition: The state of being happy.

Happy (hapi)

  • adjective
  • Definition: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.


What does it mean to be happy? Before you read on, Take some time to think and ask yourself:

“What would make you happy right now?”

That was a trick question. You should be happy as you are right now and any other answer will reveal that there is something in your life that is affecting your emotional state of being “happy”.

Most people will answer that they desire something or desire more. They wish they had a better house, a better car, a better life, nicer clothes or more money. However, once you fulfil those desires, chances are you will have another set of desires or desires of a higher standard as the circumstances and environment would have changed. For example, there will be a new fashion trend and you will desire the new clothes of the season. You may move into a nicer house and neighbourhood but notice everyone is driving beautiful sports cars and you will want a better car to fit in. It will just never be enough.

The thing is, life is complex and the world is ever-changing. If you let your material desires or worldly events affect your happiness, you will never maintain a sustainable state of happiness.

As per the definition, being happy is about is about contentment. The Yoga Sutras (2.42) talks about the concept of “Santosha” which can be literally translated to “complete contentment”. There are different interpretations about this.

Some people see contentment as the lack of Trsna (craving). Some describe it as attaining a state of inner peace.

For me, I like to view contentment as accepting one’s circumstances. There will always be ups and downs in life but regardless of what happens, as long we can find contentment inside ourselves, we can adopt a state of balance or equilibrium with ourselves. That way, we will always be content or happy no matter what happens.

That being said, to be completely content or happy is difficult and achieving that state of equilibrium within ourselves is something that only the we can figure out for ourselves.

The practice of Asanas and Pranayama can help us through learning to control our body and allow us to focus on the mind. Along with meditation, eventually we will be able to understand ourselves and learn to manage our thoughts and inner senses towards contentment and happiness.

This is a journey we all are working towards and along the way, regardless of what happens, just think of the classic Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”!


Stay happy,

Justin Chew