Be Ruthless in Your Search for Happiness

By Peter Ferko

Byron Katie

Happiness, from a yoga perspective, is called samtosha, or “contentment,” and every moment, we are being tempted to move away from it — often without any awareness that we’re choosing which way to move. So I appreciated Sheila’s tone in Episode 2 when she insisted that we make the time — even five minutes a day — to gain the increased awareness meditation provides. One of my favorite authors on the topic of contentment is Byron Katie ( I think of her as the benchmark of ruthless thinking. Katie runs every upset through a set of four questions to help her realize that she chooses contentment or the opposite. The questions are simple, but ask you to face yourself ruthlessly, meaning you don’t get to rationalize, throw a tantrum, or use any other trick to avoid the truth. There is video of her facilitating with people’s problems on her site, but you can use the method yourself by asking these four questions when you’re next upset (for an example, imagine you’re feeling, “I should have gotten that job.”):

1.) Is it true?

2.) (if you answered ‘yes’ to #1) Can you be sure it’s true?

3.) How does it make you feel to hold that thought (the one upsetting you)?

4.) Who would you be without that thought?

Katie’s questions leave no doubt when applied honestly: things are the way they are for a reason, and you are more empowered and effective — even at changing things you don’t like — if you accept the truth of that. Let’s use our job example [your likely responses are in brackets]:

What you’re upset about: I should have gotten that job!

1.) Is it true? [YES!]

2.) Can you know that it’s true? [Well, I guess not, but I still think…]

3.) How does holding that thought make you feel? [Frustrated, mad, like a loser]

4.) Who would you be without that thought? [I’d move on with my job search, I might realize it wasn’t actually the right job, I might learn something from the process that helps with the next job prospect.]

Give it a try and if another doubt or upset comes up, just ask the questions about that one. Be ruthless — ruthlessly happy, that is!


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About the Author: Peter Ferko, (, writes about finding “Grace” in everyday life for Happiness Series. He pursues happiness on several fronts. He has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years and is a teacher at ISHTA Yoga in New York where he trains new teachers. He is an artist in several media, including writing, photography, music, and graphic design. His latest project is a novel in which the main characters are all looking for a way to gracefully negotiate their lives, and it’s no surprise they are turning to yoga as a path. Peter’s work can be found at

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