Four Directions of Happiness

SHAMANIC MEDICINE & SOUL ALCHEMY WITH MISHA HOOThe following is an article I wrote for my friend Meliors’ fabulous handmade zine “Happy Bus” which is available for purchase at

I would like to suggest to you an exercise which you might find useful in your pursuit of happiness.  Stand up, relax and take a few deep breaths.

Now consider the directions and spaces you have around you.  First consider the direction beneath you, the ground beneath your feet and the solid earth that you are standing on.  This represents your foundation.  A good foundation is essential to a successful and happy life.  This means that you need to be financially stable, have a harmonious, secure living environment and a confident feeling of belonging wherever you are.

Next, I would like you to consider the direction above you.  It is here that you receive your inspiration, create your dreams and use your imagination.  Without inspiration, life is dull.  We are happy when we are inspired to learn, create or try something new.  We reach above us to our higher goals, our sense of purpose in life and we reach up to the heavens to embrace our sense of the divine – to connect with something bigger than ourselves.

It is essential to strike a balance between these two directions.  Too much attention on the below direction can make us feel heavy, burdened by the practicalities of life or overly materialistic. Too much attention on the above direction can lead to flightiness, fantasy, all talk and no action, “head in the clouds” behavior. A healthy balance keeps our feet on the ground and our minds open to new ideas.

The next direction I would like you to consider is the complete circle made up of your front, back and sides which I will call the outer direction. Here we connect with the flow of life; we make choices, take actions, form relationships and express ourselves.

When we don’t have a good connection to the outer world we feel isolated, lonely and unable to manifest our ideas.  The truth is that nothing in the world is separate. Everything is connected in an intricate web where everything affects everything else. Remembering our connectedness to all things brings us back to a position of power and makes us aware of our choices.

Finally, consider the direction within.  How do you feel on the inside? Success in the outer world alone will not make you happy if your inner world is not harmonious.

A simple daily meditation can help you to develop inner harmony.  Still your mind, relax and bring your awareness inside yourself.  Feel the stillness and fullness of your own presence.  Say to yourself or out aloud “I AM” and smile.

This will nurture your essential I AM presence which is naturally harmonious and with practice you can carry that feeling with you as you go about your day. This will help you to integrate your inner and outer worlds.

Awareness of these four directions above, below, inner and outer can show you where you may be out of balance.  Which direction is the strongest for you?

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