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I used to be what you’d call extrinsically motivated. Meaning, when things went my way I was happy and when they didn’t, well, I was a pill. I didn’t get that allowing external circumstances (more often than not, beyond my control) to dictate my happiness was actually making unhappy...

Everyday was like a lottery for me. When I woke up in the morning I had no idea if I’d be having the best day ever or the kind that made me wish I’d never gotten out of bed in the first place.

I’m a slow learner, so it took me well into my forties to grasp the concept that happiness is an inside job. Even then, I only got it up to a point. On some level I still felt like there was something wrong with me.

Why couldn’t I just be happy all the time?

I sought the help of a psychologist who prescribed a course of antidepressants. Predictably, they worked until I stopped taking them.

A friend kicked her pack-a-day habit with hypnotherapy and suggested I give it a try. Why not, I thought. Cigarettes and morose demeanours are both antisocial behaviours.

It made short work of my intimacy issues —yay!— but happiness as a permanent state of being remained elusive. I probably should have given it longer, but I needed a more cost effective solution to my problem. (Those weekly sessions were eating into my budget big time.)


As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu famously said, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”

(He is also quoted as saying, “When the student is truly ready...the teacher will disappear.” But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)

I was at the point of accepting that my inner-Pollyanna was permanently AWOL, when I bumped into an ex-colleague. She looked annoyingly upbeat and chipper.

“How are things?” I asked, though clearly I didn’t have to.

“Amazing!” she gushed, “I’ve just been on the most incredible meditation course.”

Ugh. Really? The whole sitting in silence, following your breath thing never really appealed to me.

“How wonderful, where did you do it?” I asked, assuming she’d say an ashram in India.

“Just down the road,” she replied, “with The Art of Living Foundation. It’s part of their Happiness Program”

Wait, what?

“Happiness Program?” I looked at her, equally parts skeptical and intrigued.

“I know, I know, it sounds very new-agey, but it’s actually not. You should give it a try.” she said, smiling serenely.

We promised to meet for coffee soon, kissed goodbye and went our separate ways. 

My head was reeling. I also wanted to smile like a Mona Lisa after a double espresso.


Long story a little shorter, I signed up for the The Art of Living Happiness Program and my life changed in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.

Founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living is a non-profit organization that offers a variety of self-development programs and tools all aimed at promoting inner peace. Right!?

Although it encompasses much more, the Happiness Program is centered around the Sudarshan Kriya, a cyclical breathing technique that reduces stress and raises your energy, leaving you with a clear and positive state of mind.

What are the Benefits of the Sudarshan Kriya?

Meaning “proper vision by purifying action” in Sanskrit, the Sudarshan Kriya offers numerous health benefits. According to an article in the International Journal of Yoga, the powerful breathing technique has a positive effect on everything from stress and anxiety to PTSD, depression and stress-related medical illness,

It also stimulates the vagus nerve, that long, sinewy and little known organ where our peace of mind and happiness reside.

Where Can You Learn the Sudarshan Kriya?

The Sudarshan Kriya is one of the few remaining things you can’t learn from the Internet. The only way to master the art of this breathing technique is to do The Art of Living Happiness Program.

With more than 10 000 centers in 155 countries, there’s a good chance you’ll find one close to you. If you’re fortunate enough to live in India, The Art of Living headquarters are based in Bangalore.

The Happiness Program is extremely cost-effect and you can  repeat it at any point in the future at no charge. The weekly ‘long Kriya’ sessions are run on a donation basis, making it even more accessible as a long-term solution to your happiness and wellbeing.

As for me, the Sudarshan Kriya has shown me that happiness is indeed within my control. But rather than the lottery-winning high I’d been chasing, it’s proven to be a state of easy contentment that comes from accepting that everything is as it should be.

It might have taken me fifty years to grasp, but it was definitely worth the wait.

About Angela Horn
Angela Horn is a Cape Town-based freelance writer and minimalist lifestyle blogger http://www.angelagayehorn.com/ on a mission to declutter the world. She’s an urban hippie, slow living advocate and believes peanut butter should be a food group. Watch her TEDx talk to find out more.