True or False? Something outside of me can make me unhappy


This is my grandpa, Henry.

This is my grandpa, Henry.

The kleśas are afflictions—things that cause us suffering. The five kleśas suggest that the root of our suffering is misperception. If we misperceive or understand something incorrectly, we take action based on this bad intel. When action is based on a kleśa or misperception, our action isn’t correct. This causes a lot of problems for ourselves.

Two of the kleśas I’d like to highlight today are raga and dveṣa. When raga is at work, I act from an incorrect belief that something outside of me can make me happy. Dveṣa is the belief that something outside of me can make me unhappy.

Take that in for a moment. The implications are huge.

Sure, our circumstances can cause us problems. There are some pretty horrible situations at work right now and it’s okay and very human to have emotional reactions to those things. But here’s the thing. Patañjali teaches that even when circumstances or experiences are very difficult, we don’t have to be happy or unhappy because of them. Our sense of peace or upset doesn’t depend on things going on around us. There’s something within us that can be steady, clear, and with peace all of the time. No matter what.

Even though I’m not in a constant state of equilibrium and peace, I have a lot of faith in the practice of yoga. So much of what’s presented in the yoga sūtras has been right on, describing my experiences and the growth I’ve had as a result of practice. So I’m holding on to this possibility, too. And I’m hopeful that as I continue to embrace this perspective I can be at peace even when I have to take action that’s difficult. I can be at peace even if I strongly disagree with someone’s ideas. I can be at peace and show up for my family, students, friends, community and country in that way. And this peace can spread.

3 thoughts on “True or False? Something outside of me can make me unhappy

  1. Tracy

    I like this post….that’s a judgement. the “like” part. maybe I don”t like this post. That’s a judgement too!…..Our minds always identify things as ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. Kinda like your comment that “there are some ‘Horrible’ situations happening right now”. Perhaps it’s just a situation. That has no control on my ‘like/dislike’. When I add the word ‘Horrible’ to it then it can affect how my mindset reacts to it!….A ‘good’ situation will make me happy. A ‘horrible’ situation makes me worried. It is neither. It’s just a situation…. not good, not bad… My perception or lack of acceptance, or judgement gives it a value that gives me a reaction depending on how my mind perceives the unknown outcome. Either way I am not in peace….when we label, when we project into the future, when we are clinging, when we are pushing away, we are not in a pure state of acceptance. We are lacking in Divine faith. We are in retrospect trying to control the Divine plan. We are small. We are large. We know nothing. And we know everything…It’s all so huge. Only by not labeling everything can we have peace. That is why the external world can make you feel both good and bad .It’s not doing anything. You are!!!….Thanx for making me think about this. May this find you well and trusting in the universe….

    1. Amanda Post author

      Tracy! Thanks for your comment. It made me chuckle because you are so right and so ‘next level.’ I wonder what it would be like to go beyond labeling or judging what’s happening. Maybe i’ll start by attempting to notice when I’m labeling and judging. I really appreciate these words, “We are lacking in Divine faith. We are in retrospect trying to control the Divine plan.” May divine faith grow in each of us. Blessings.

  2. Tracy

    Amanda, there is a simple practise that you can attempt for a day…For one day try to be mindful of every time you label or judge. For example….I only drink my coffee black, milk is bad for you. /She shouldn’t have said that!/Brianna is the best singer ever!/That woman gave me a dirty look/ All corporations are evil……At the end of the day sit quietly and try to recall the times that you labeled or judged, by writing down 10 times that you can recall….Then reflect how each time made you feel?How did each time reflect right speech? How did each time effect another? How did this energy effect the universe….It’s all very revealing when you attempt to do this…Take care and may this find you well!!! Cheers!!!


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