We probably wouldn’t have survived as a species if we weren’t somewhat “wired for worry”, and though most of us no longer have to be concerned about sabertooth tigers eating us for lunch, the mind still tends to get “snagged” on the negative. Someone says something or does something that makes us feel slighted, misunderstood or angry, and we go for a mental spin right into the abyss. Or we sit down to catch up with friends and end up focusing on what isn’t going well, and not on all the amazing things that are.
I think part of it is cultural, too. We’re constantly receiving messages that happiness lies in external stuff, that it’s a destination somewhere out ahead of us and if we just keep plugging away and trying harder and making ourselves “right” eventually we’ll be happy. The thing is, it’s not a destination. There’s no house that’s gorgeous enough, there’s no weight you could be, there’s no hairstyle or other person or car or job or amount of money in your bank account that will bring you to that place we call Happy. You can try if you want to, we have millions of people stuck on that track, but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t feel good, either. It’s the track of, “You’re not good enough, you don’t measure up.” How could that track ever lead to Happiness? The destination if you keep moving forward in that direction is Depressionville, Despair.
It doesn’t work, because happiness is something that happens inside yourself when you stop and realize how much you do have, when you make the choice to stay rooted in that awareness of what is going well, even if life isn’t easy right this minute. It happens when you’re living in alignment with what’s true for you, when you’re living with your heart wide open. It happens when you uncover your gifts and give them away freely. It happens when you lend an ear, or your hand or your shoulder or whatever else you’ve got to someone else. It happens when you’re patient with yourself and your own process, when you have compassion for yourself and other people, through connection, and a feeling that your life has meaning and purpose. You can’t buy that stuff at a store.
Of course, even if you do tap into that, you’ll still have pain in your life, and you have to lean into that, too. Heartbreaks. Confusion, doubt, fear, shame, guilt. Part of happiness is opening to all of it. Learning and growing and saying, “Yes, this too.” (There are some things that will never fall into the category of “Yes”, though. There are some things that will break your heart wide open and then the only question is if it hardens you or softens you. I recommend softening if at all possible). Life is going to keep coming, but when you’re living from your heart and you remember who you are, you have such a solid foundation to receive the everything that life brings. You also know how to give yourself permission to stay in your pajamas all day if that’s what you need to do. It doesn’t all have to be pretty and perfect every minute; in fact, part of being at peace is knowing that it won’t be.
That’s one of the main reasons it’s so important to figure out what you need in order to quiet your mind. Yoga, seated meditation, hiking, something. Because the habit-pattern of the mind is to head into the past or the future. We usually head into the past with longing or sadness. When we think about the future, it’s often with anxiety or fear. Peace is available in the present moment, but if your mind is screaming at you, it’s not easy to tap into it. Your breath is always happening in the now. That’s a powerful entry point to This Moment. Stress comes from being in one place, and wanting to be somewhere else. Wherever you are, you are home. You can breathe in and breathe out, right now, and bring yourself into the present. You live in your body. You live with your internal dialogue. So your inner world is peaceful and loving, or it’s violent and painful. If that voice is full of, “Not good enough!”, stop feeding it because it’s a liar. You are the only you, out of the roughly 7 billion people we have on this planet. That’s pretty amazing. I don’t believe you’re here to be a size 2 or to have huge biceps or to amass as much money as you can. You’re here to shine. When you notice a tree blowing in the wind, when you see the sunlight reflecting off the million different greens, and you feel the breeze on your skin, I hope you take it in. Because those are gifts, just like you are.
Sending you love,