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Real Joy, Right Now

Do you often hear yourself saying, "When such and such happens, then I'll be happy"? Why wait for happiness when it's available to you right now, at this moment?

By Sally Kempton

Step Six: Find Your Inner Truth

Because we live in a culture that values the dream of being "special," of having a big destiny that drives us even when we don't know it, the experience of real alignment often comes when you allow yourself to be—well, ordinary.

Miles, a teacher and spiritual counselor from New Mexico, told me recently that the most important shift he'd made in the past few years was releasing his need to be impressive. "Sometimes one of my students will invite me to dinner, and they'll have invited their friends to meet their teacher, and I won't have anything to say," he says. "A few years ago, I'd have forced myself to hold forth for them, to perform. Now I can just be there, be as dorky as I am in that moment, and feel fine about it."

This quality of being authentically yourself, just as you are, without pretense or struggle, is what is really meant by integrity—the ability to fully integrate even the uncomfortable, difficult parts of yourself into the whole, so that your thoughts, your words, your body language, and your actions all express your deepest values. In the yoga tradition of India, the inner truth that integrates all the different parts of us is called svadharma—literally, "one's own law"—and real happiness is said to stem from our ability to follow that inner law, the path that rightly belongs to us.

Your svadharma is your inner compass, the path you follow to wholeness. People often used to ask my teacher how they could find their svadharma, their own personal mission or destined path. He would say, "Your real svadharma is to know your Self, the divinity within you."

On my own journey toward contentment, I've come back again and again to a question that allows me to take a shortcut to the truth: "Does this thought or action or decision take me closer to my own divinity or not?" My ego might have all sorts of opinions about what's good for me. The inner Self simply knows that behind all situations, challenges, and opinions, behind all questions of preference is the ground of what is, and that when we rest on that ground, we're open to the grace that is the real source of contentment.

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Reader Comments

joan kushner

why do you think that taking prozac gives one 'contenment'? it's simply not true.

shirley knudsen

Tjhank you for giving me some hope with your amazing article "Real Joy Right Now".
I am in a terribly dark place right now .Instead of my boys leaving "the nest" I had to leave my 3 teenage sons to follow my husband up the "corporate ladder to another town 200 miles away. Having just arrived my mother died suddenly of a heart attack, my brother died shortly after of bowel cancer and a short time my husband was out on his mountain bike and had a massive heart attack and died instantly. I didn't even get to say "good-bye to him". My 3 sons all live far away and I feel very alone.
I will work through what you have written and thank you once again for giving me hope.

Shirley Knudsen


What a fitting article. I claimed bankruptcy and lost my job all in one year and I am about to go on social assistance, if I qualify. As weird as it sounds, I am even afraid to say I am at peace. It is as if the universe gave me an opportunity to start over again and this time to make things right. I feel a sense of contentment at the moment, however, can only imagine a small voice in my head saying "how can you be so calm?" I respond to it by saying the universe shall provide.

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