Of course you would. We all want to be happier. In fact, Aristotle said that “happiness is the goal of all goals—the be all and end all of life.”
Unfortunately, we don’t always feel happy. But we can change and here is how!
Once a man from a tribal culture had become troubled and unhappy. The villagers had taken him to the local shaman (medicine man). After the suffering man poured out his troubles to the wise spiritual leader, the shaman sat quietly for a moment. Then, instead of giving him advice or prescribing an herbal remedy, the shaman simply asked him four questions:
1. When did you stop singing?
2. When did you stop dancing?
3. When did you stop being enchanted by story?
4. When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?
Across all cultures, the healers and medicine people know that if someone is unhappy, they are inevitably missing one or more of these four crucial ingredients for happiness.
Without song, movement, story-telling and silence, we begin to experience a loss of soul or spirit.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these:
1. Singing: Singing can be as simple as humming or chanting or it can be a full blown aria in the shower. You don’t have to have a great voice or be on key—just singing opens the heart. Research shows that the sound of your own voice singing, chanting or humming strengthens your immune system. Even though we often think of singing as an expression of being happy, it can actually help you recover your inner peace and well-being if you’ve lost your joy.
2. Dancing/Moving Your Body: Every culture throughout history has had some form of movement in dance, sport, and exercise. Moving your body creates endorphins, the feel-good hormone. Movement and dance bring you back into your body and help you trust your body’s deep wisdom.
3. Storytelling/Sharing with Others: Storytelling is one of the oldest healing tools igniting our heart and imagination and re-enchanting the world. Make sure to share your story with others—not the victim version, but the empowered one.
4. Silence: While silence is something that’s hard to come by in our culture, it is one of the most important allies you have in raising your happiness level. Being silent, even for 10 or 15 minutes a day, allows you to touch the great mystery of life and remember who you are.
So, the next time you find yourself a little down or in a funk, remember the shaman’s four questions. Then add a bit of singing, dancing, story-telling, and silence into your day. I guarantee you will find this powerful medicine working in your life.