Practicing happiness 29

The better version of yourself.

Your inner being is the expanded version of you, the part of you that said “yes” to life’s call every time and didn’t hang back in fear, anger, or resentment.

We all value our identity and even a depressed and stressed identity is precious to us – that’s why it persists despite the great variety life throws our way.

Even feeling miserable is an effort and an accomplishment.

We want to be happier and enjoy life more but do we acknowledge that this means to some extent becoming a different person?

Our habitual reactions and attitudes and thoughts are what keep us as we are. Our inner being always takes the most positive perspective in line with our desires, so by definition there is a discrepancy between our response and the response of our inner being.

How many times in life have you gone with something despite your fears and nerves and felt so much better after the fact?

That’s you keeping up with your inner being.

How many times have you said “no” to life, or dwelt on a negative feeling just because it’s familiar?

That’s what resistance and misalignment feels like.

Catching up with you

We feel the pull of this happier, easier, more loving and more trusting version of ourselves for whom (we somehow know) everything works out better.

Your inner being is a match to all your desires. It resides in joy and appreciation of things you haven’t yet seen, and of things you see but take for granted.

It doesn’t join you ever in a single bad-feeling thought, memory, or idea.

So catching up with your inner being really could feel like playing the part of a different person. It really might feel like pretending. But if it’s guided by your personal sense of happiness and desires, it’s a pretence in the direction of you, and of everything you truly want to be.

Pretend; pretend you’re already standing amidst the fulfilment of all your desires. Pretend you’re already feeling the ease and flow and trust of the person your inner being has become. Pretend to be what life has been calling you to be.

Because pretending is nothing more than stretching out, reaching toward something. Seek and you shall find. Imitate what you have already become, deep inside.

Practicing happiness 28

Contra mundum with a vengeance.

So it turns out I’m a villain.

In anime there’s the trope (presumably informed by Shinto beliefs) of a creature or spirit that becomes warped through suffering or injustice or its own negative emotion and becomes evil.

It always struck me as a little unfair, but it makes sense. Like the boar spirit at the beginning of Princess Mononoke, or any number of unhappy yokai in Natsume Yuujinchou. These spirits are often victims themselves, yet their bitterness or wrath turns them into something dangerous to others.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings the cause of our suffering is our own resistance. When we focus on unwanted aspects of reality we experience friction or going against the flow of our own inner being, because our inner being only ever focuses on the wanted aspects of life.

Our negative emotions are our experience of this friction.

I’ve been working on letting go of resistance and feeling better. But it turns out my resistance was more extreme than I realised.

At some point in my life I got turned around. I took my negative experiences and extrapolated to life in general, the whole world, and existence itself.

I decided that life was not worth living, the world was pointless and broken, and existence was burdensome and futile.

Treating all of existence as unwanted felt pretty bad. But in a way it was a relief to reach that sweeping conclusion. It was more satisfying to turn against life than to try to find redeeming features amidst the misery.

It was also a form of vengeance against everyone and everything responsible for making life so burdensome in the first place. Like playing a game where the odds are stacked against you and the cost always outweighs the rewards, the obvious answer was to refuse to play.

Ironically that’s how I finally interpreted spiritual teachings too. Life is being crushed beneath the wheel of samsara, and it’s only refusing to buy-in that brings us true freedom.

If our thoughts and attitudes create our reality, what kind of reality does this contra mundum attitude create? Not the best.

If resisting the flow of life causes suffering and negative emotion, how about turning defiantly against the stream and saying “f*** you”?

Change of heart

My spiritual search was an attempt to find a way out or transformation of this hated reality. But the answer I have finally arrived at is that my hate is itself the problem.

If I want to feel better I have to learn to love the reality I’m in. If I love the reality I’m creating, then it will change to reflect this positive and satisfying and delightful attitude.

I can’t hate my way into a better-feeling life. No matter how justified my resentment might seem, or how comforting my scorn might feel, if I’d rather enjoy life then it’s time for them to go.

Practicing happiness 27

Your inner being is adoring where you are right now.

But how do you feel about it?

Alignment means lining up your perspective with the perspective of your inner being…who always adores where you are.

Abraham-Hicks talks about this as “the relationship between you and You”, closing the gap between yourself and your inner being.

Why close the gap? Especially when you may have lots of reasons to not like where you are.

Close the gap because your inner being is who your really are. It’s the greater part of you, and it has never lost or forgotten it’s connection with God/Source.

Your inner being is where your power is, where your desires are complete, and where your happiness flows effortlessly.

Your inner being is the expanded version of you, and if you line up with it, you will no longer be resisting your own desires.

Surrender to God’s will

In traditional terms this is all about surrender to God’s will. But the emphasis on loving and appreciating and adoring where you are makes it clearer than ever.

God’s will sounds very abstract and ethereal. And even saying that God adores where you are right now and wants you to do the same gets my hackles up.

That’s why Abraham-Hicks doesn’t use traditional terminology. Much clearer to say that your inner being adores where you are, and if you could find a way to align with it by feeling better about where you are, then you will enjoy the love and appreciation, the power and energy of your inner being in this lifetime.

Practicing happiness 26

The only thing that’s worked.

The only thing that’s worked for me is to have the intention to feel better.

It’s the only thing that has consistently improved my circumstances and helped me find alignment again and again.

Looking for answers just brings me more questions. Making an effort just wears me down, but the simple and modest intent to feel better is so consistent, to me it’s magic.

Today brought a new kind of challenge I haven’t encountered before. Or at least not in many years.

It’s so different I’ve been nonplussed, scrambling for an appropriate response.

It took me hours to realise this is just another form of contrast, and that there’s only ever one single answer:

Feel better.

There’s nothing so big or terrifying or strange that my humble intent to feel better can’t heal it.

I used to love the ideal of wisdom like a sword, the sword of truth, the sword of Manjusri, cutting through all ignorance and delusion.

But this is more like hanging clothes out to dry on a mild day, or keeping hydrated, or remembering to go outside for some fresh air.

It’s like giving up on a problem, genuinely not caring, and then the answer comes to you while you’re washing the dishes.

So keep in intending to feel better, and know that it’s enough. Sit with whatever you’ve got going on, add your intent to feel better in that moment, and feel the tiny movement of relief.

Keep doing that, keep intending that relief, that better feeling moment by moment. Big things and small things will come up and pass by. You’ll forget to feel better but that’s okay. Pick it up as soon as you remember.

Not only is this contrast going to pass, it’s going to bring great transformation and change in its wake. By this time tomorrow everything will feel subtly improved again, as another piece of resistance falls away.

Practicing happiness 25

I’ve come a long way in clearing up resistance on various subjects, and it’s an understatement to say that my path has been unusual.

In learning to be happy I’ve had to approach it modestly, practicing just the most simple intention to feel better, and dealing with resistance as it arises.

It feels like I’m piece by piece undoing the damage from my past – not just the original complex trauma, but my own flawed attempts to overcome it back then.

Following the Underhill text in my previous post, I had taught myself a peculiar kind of self-observation and absorption, treating my own mind, body and feelings as an object to be observed and controlled, as I searched for true freedom and peace from the disorganised and disruptive environment I lived in.

Like putting a kink in a hose to try to stop the flow…and perhaps that was what I needed at the time. But the flow is life. Stopping it is painful and debilitating.

It reminds me of a person I once met who had gotten into drugs as a teenager to try to escape his own emotional disregulation. Years later his life is his own again. I could relate to his journey, but my mind-altering substance was textual rather than chemical.

Again, maybe that was better than the alternatives? People dissociate because they need to, not for fun. And people chase dreams because they are inspired. My spiritual life was a combination of the two – using dissociation techniques to chase the dream of true freedom.

But I’ve stopped now. That false technique doesn’t serve me anymore and I feel a new immediacy and closeness to my emotional guidance, letting go of the distance and dryness I had put there on purpose.

Feeling good feels better than it did yesterday or any time prior, because I’m no longer trying to separate myself from myself, or observe myself as I go about life.

And I can see now that good feeling thoughts really are enough! I really do have the power to feel how I want to feel, by choosing to focus on things that feel good.

My poor burned-out brain is getting some relief. My mind can stop going cross-eyed for the first time in years. I can feel what I feel, without having to observe that I’m feeling it.

I can finally switch off.

Practicing happiness 24

“If you are disallowing happiness you are disallowing everything you believe will make you happy.” – Abraham-Hicks

Even if you know that core beliefs based on childhood experiences are the root of your problems, still it’s not a good idea to make your work about digging them all up.

Rather, if your work is just intending to feel better those core beliefs will come up when you are ready to face them, and you’ll only face those which are actual obstacles to better feeling.

As you intend feeling better you’ll probably notice it working immediately, but after some time and distractions you’ll find yourself feeling bad again, or bored, or in some situation you don’t like.

This is contrast coming up to help you let go of your resistance. All you have to do is intend to feel better in the midst of whatever you are experiencing, and trust that this approach is enough.

It probably won’t seem like enough, but that’s just resistance making you impatient or feeling like you need “more” to really change your life.

But all of that – impatience, boredom, frustration, yearning for change – will eventually be shown to originate in your deepest resistance and loss of alignment.

Alignment is satisfaction, security, and sufficiency. It won’t be immediately apparent but by accepting the intent to feel better as enough for you moment by moment, you are retraining yourself to allow satisfaction, security and sufficiency into your experience.

That’s what the quote at the beginning of this post is all about. If you aren’t happy and you’re finding fault in your experience of life, it’s all because you are disallowing happiness, possibly at a very deep level or from a very early point in your beliefs.

That doesn’t mean you need to go find those beliefs and change them. If you haven’t practiced feeling better you won’t be able to change them. You need to strengthen the attitude of feeling better and letting it be enough, and that itself will become the foundation of your new beliefs.

Practicing happiness 23

Feeling good vs feeling normal.

I want to flesh out a subtle point in the Abraham-Hicks teachings. I think it’s an implicit point and I haven’t seen it described quite this way before.

When our thoughts are aligned with our desires (and hence our inner being) we feel positive emotion.

When our thoughts contradict or resist our desires (and our inner being) we feel negative emotion.

Throughout each day we experience a range of alignment and misalignment, positive and negative emotion. Some of us spend more time in the negative and others spend more time in the positive.

The average of this range is our “point of attraction” or “set point”. But I think of this as an area rather than a point, having a range albeit a small one.

Everything in this range feels “normal” to us, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. We don’t like the negatives and we do like the positives, but they still feel normal or expected to us.

Shifting “normal”

I think the real point of the A-H teachings is to shift the range of what we consider normal, so that there is more positive and less negative.

But most of us approach these teachings with a desire to obtain things that are quite far outside our normal range. We fixate on “big” desires that we think would feel amazing if we achieved them.

But amazing is a long way from normal. “Amazing” is like saying “far away”. And if we set our attention on things that are far away we will inevitably experience distance.

This distance translates into a believability issue. It would be “amazing” to wake up tomorrow and find you’ve won the lottery. But if it feels amazing in that distant sense, you probably don’t believe it will happen.

Ironically, if it feels “amazing” that probably means you have a lot of resistance to it. If you really believed you were going to win the lottery tomorrow it wouldn’t feel amazing after all. It would feel normal to you. Positive, but in a normal way.

Thats why the A-H teachings emphasise ease and satisfaction and appreciation.

Recalibrating normalcy

It’s counter-intuitive, but if we focus on good things that feel “normal” we tune ourselves into allowing our preferences and desires. Whereas if we focus on distant things that feel “amazing” we implicitly reinforce our resistance to them.

Focusing on amazing distant things we don’t have is like saying “I’d feel better if I had that”. But if you had it, you would soon adjust to it as it became part of your new normal.

So the real question is what constitutes your “normal” set point? Is it a normal of allowing and appreciating good things? Or is it a normal of resisting and yearning for distant things?

The point of the A-H teachings is to change your normal…not by greatly changing the contents of your life right now, but by changing your own relationship to the flow of wanted and unwanted in your right now experience.

Because even in an experience with lots of resistance there is still some allowing of good things. Do you appreciate these things? Or do you deride them as insignificant?

Are you focusing on the fulfilment of your preferences or the denial of them? Because your “normal” contains both, and where you focus determines which one will grow in your future.

Am I looking at my normal experience through the lens of getting rid of unwanted things? Or through the lens of appreciating wanted things?

Appreciation doesn’t mean I have to feel ecstatic about every little thing in my life. I don’t have to feel wonderful that so many of my preferences are being met. But to at least acknowledge that they are being met is an excellent shift to make.

What do you prefer?

Do I prefer having a couch to sit on, or having nowhere to sit? Obviously I prefer having it. How does it feel to have it? Of course it feels normal. Does it feel good? Yes of course it feels good to have my preference met.

I could at this point say that it doesn’t meet all my preferences in a couch, or a couch isn’t a very significant preference, etc. But that’s just resistance.

Go back to the preference. Couch or no couch? Couch. Feels good? Yes.

Now I could also object that it doesn’t feel good enough, this good feeling isn’t really changing my life. But that’s resistance too.

Try preferencing again: good feeling about couch or no good feeling about couch? Well when you put it that way, I prefer having a good feeling about my couch.

By extension: do I prefer feeling good about all my many preferences that are being met right this minute? Or do I prefer not feeling good about them? Of course I prefer feeling good about them.

And here’s a glimpse of the whole milieu of preferences that I have allowed into my experience. It’s a snapshot of my “normal” degree of allowing vs resistance. It’s an insight into how good I’m letting my life be, objectively how many preferences I’m letting be met.

Ultimately even something as cliche as winning the lottery is just a preference. It’s not a game-changing deus ex machina that changes everything about your life. It’s not an emotional atom bomb of joy and amazement that will keep you glowing for years to come.

It’s just a preference some people have. And for many it’s a stick to beat themselves and their normal experience with….a symptom, not salvation.

In reality there are so many preferences met that I take for granted in my daily life, it’s shameful that I ignore them and wish for “more”.

I’m literally uplifted and sustained by a whole web of preferences I’m allowing on a daily basis. I go from one good thing to another, albeit taking them for granted most of the time.

As a teenager I would have been overawed at all the stuff I have now. But today I’m just expecting it to be there. I shouldn’t feel overawed anymore, that’s not the point, but if I want more of my preferences met I should take stock of where, how, and why my life is so full of things I desire, value, like, and prefer.

Practicing happiness 22

Exploring the relationship between wealth and body weight helped me recognise the feelings of insecurity, insufficiency and vulnerability that are helping create my reality.

Wishing I had more wealth or feeling bad about lack of wealth turned out to be self-deceptions that kept me from noticing how I feel at a deeper level.

Living a “marginal” existence reflects my fear of external forces, my desire to withdraw into safety even if that means making do with material insufficiency.

Yet there’s another beautiful paradox at the core of it: because wealth to me means or feels like sufficiency, security, and invulnerability….things I had already regarded as beyond me.

Denying my own sufficiency, security, and invulnerability, I thought it better to treat that awful state as “true” and adapt to it as best I could. Make the most of subjugation and try to limit my exposure to damage and suffering.

I really thought it was true, hence the terror I felt. It is terrifying to be convinced of your own insufficiency, insecurity, and vulnerability in a hostile world, and believe that no one and nothing is coming to save you.

It felt like an improvement to say “that’s just the way it is” and quash any hope it might be different. It seemed like progress to put all the pressure and burden on my own internal efforts to transform myself.

“Grow up”, “this is just life”, but I held onto my spiritual goal, thinking I could somehow transcend the limitations of this ****** existence.

But I was wrong. I was wrong to accept that I am insufficient, insecure, and vulnerable. I was wrong to believe in hostile and cruel external forces. I was wrong to think I am powerless unless I somehow met the requirements of spiritual transformation.

My thoughts create my reality – so I made that my truth, but it doesn’t have to be. I can change my thoughts and change my reality. I can allow sufficiency, security, and invulnerability to be my reality. I can deny the ability of any external force to create my reality. I can accept and allow the power already and always within me.

Real freedom, real security, real sufficiency real invulnerability — I can allow these with my thoughts and begin enjoying them immediately.

My life is my creation, and I can choose what goes in it – thoughts that feel good or thoughts that don’t. It’s entirely up to me. And when I change my thoughts my reality really does change. I feel it, and I see it, and that process of deliberate creation is the most satisfying and delightful thing of all. It’s the meaning and purpose of my existence – freedom, expansion, and joy.

Practicing happiness 21

“I create my reality” means my reality is a reflection of my thoughts/vibration.

I used this principle when I lost weight – deciding that my body weight was a reflection of my eating behaviour. But then it turned out that my eating behaviour was a reflection of my emotional state, and hence my thoughts/vibration too.

How?

I found that I was eating more than I needed because of the pleasure it brought, and when I stopped, I felt negative emotions that had been there the whole time.

In psychological terms I’d been using eating to regulate my emotional state. Many of us overeat for this reason, often unconsciously.

When I was overweight I’d wish I was leaner and better looking. That wish or yearning was painful, but it gave me a sense of control or rightness to my situation. To be unrepentantly overweight was frightening and shameful, so feeling bad about being overweight and yearning to be leaner brought a kind of balance.

Painful yearning

These lessons apply to my broader reality.

As with my weight, my whole reality is a reflection of my thoughts/vibration.

When I painfully yearn for life to change, it’s the same as wishing I could be lean.

But wishing did not accomplish anything and was in fact part of the problem!

My painful wish for relationships, money, housing, and other conditions to change is in fact a ruse designed to balance out my actual thoughts and feelings on these subjects.

When I was overweight I would feel bad for various reasons, and then eat to escape those bad feelings, and inevitably put on weight. Then I would feel bad about being overweight and wish I was leaner and make attempts at dieting and exercise that didn’t really address the cause.

Real change came when I allowed myself to feel bad without escaping into eating, knowing that if I stopped dysfunctional eating my body would inevitably return to a healthy weight.

It worked. So the same will work with the rest of reality.

I create my reality

On an issue like money, wishing for more money and feeling bad that I don’t have it is akin to wishing to be lean and feeling bad that I’m not.

That means it too is a self-deception.

If I don’t pay lip-service to being financially secure I would have to face the deeper fears and worries I’m escaping from.

Both the “i wish I had money!” cry and the feeling bad about not having enough money are parts of a bigger dynamic. They shouldn’t be taken at face value. Like wishing to be lean and feeling bad about being overweight, they appear solution-oriented but accomplish nothing. They are in fact problem-oriented.

Take them away, and what lies beneath them is a much more potent feeling of terror; and this terror is an emotional response to thoughts of insufficiency and insecurity. Thoughts of not enough power to survive amidst brutal and crushing external forces. Thoughts of being vulnerable in the face of harsh and uncaring others who will exploit and abuse you if given the chance.

Dealing with terror

These thoughts are a significant component of my vibrational set-point. To escape them I focus on less terrifying thoughts of being out of the way and detached from that terrifying reality.

In other words: I focus on whatever is left when those emotions are blocked out. I eke out an existence, and to complete the self-deception I lament my marginal existence and wish it could be otherwise.

I don’t know if you can follow this, maybe it’s too personal. But the reason I’m not rich is because wealth would contradict my thoughts of insufficiency and insecurity and vulnerability.

But to stop me exploring that fact and ending up facing the painful feelings of terror once more, I commit the self-deception of wishing I had more money and thinking of ways to obtain it.

If I just went out and got a job I would be placing myself in that situation of interdependence, submission, and vulnerability that I’ve worked hard to escape.

Yet I create my reality, and what I’m truly escaping is not external circumstances but my thoughts and feelings around those circumstances.

If the perfect job were offered me, I’d see it as a trap. If money were freely given me, or I won a lottery, I’d be challenged by the money itself to face the insecurities and fears I’ve described here.

Finding coherence

To be free of self-deception, to understand how my thoughts create my reality, is profound, meaningful, and brings relief from struggle and confusion.

Where I am makes perfect sense right now.

And the answer for me is to feel the terror I’ve been avoiding. But feel it in an atmosphere of knowing that it has always been there whether I feel it or not, and avoiding it merely kicks the can down the road.

The influence of that terror on the whole of my life is palpable. I wonder what life would look and feel like if I stopped trying to escape it?

I’m curious. What would happen if I allow myself to make peace with those terrifying thoughts of vulnerability and insufficiency?

How will my life change when I no longer think of myself and life in this terrifying way?

Because these thoughts are old. Really old. And while that means they have momentum, it also means they are out of date. I haven’t examined them for ages, maybe ever? And in the meantime I’ve been growing and learning and expanding so much.

Am I vulnerable? Am I insufficient? No. Those beliefs only formed within me in very specific circumstances many years ago. Given a chance to air them and examine them in the light of day? I think they are ripe for change.

Feeling better: certainty at last

I’ve written a few posts about how my approach to dieting is similar to the Abraham-Hicks teachings, and how I can leverage that similarity to my advantage in the pursuit of happiness.

Well it all came together for me recently, and I’d like to try mapping it out here for whoever may be interested.

Confusion and uncertainty

The basic idea is that we can’t really put our best efforts into a path when we are uncertain about it.

But certainty is subjective. You might have all the necessary information at hand, but still be uncertain.

Recently I became extremely frustrated with the Abraham-Hicks teachings, specifically with my continued uncertainty about them.

This might sound bad, but it was actually a wonderful point to reach, because I no longer wanted to “try” anything. I was sick of trying in an atmosphere of doubt and confusion.

The exact same thing happened with dieting. I’d tried various approaches and it wasn’t so much that they hadn’t worked, but that I hadn’t known for sure if they were working or not.

I couldn’t commit to the necessary changes because I wasn’t sure they were necessary. It’s only by finding certainty about the relationship between food intake and weight loss, and then by finding certainty about my subjective motivations for eating, that I was able to commit to the path.

Finding certainty

I found certainty because I was tired of confusion. And because I desired certainty I eventually arrived at principles that supported me.

Recently I found certainty on the subject of feeling better too. In the context of the Abraham-Hicks material, I know that feeling better is an indicator of closer alignment with my inner being/God, and since I want alignment I should focus on things that feel better.

The certainty I found is this: if I’m not intending to feel better in any given moment, I’m wasting my time.

That language is important to me. Yes, it’s an effort to intend to feel better, and no it doesn’t mean I necessarily feel much better in any given moment. But without that intention I’m wasting my time, feeding the status quo, relinquishing my greater control.

And I’ve had more than enough of that.

What next?

There are more details of course.

My intention to feel better doesn’t mean I feel great either. Previously I made the mistake of trying to feel so good that everything would change immediately.

But that isn’t sustainable. By analogy that’s like trying to lose all the weight in one day.

Another important part is to trust that intending to feel better is enough and that spiritually/vibrationally everything is already improving every moment you intend it.

I’m also identifying the times that I lose or forget my intention, and this mindfulness is helping me refine and strengthen my practice.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share this. I’ve been wanting it for a while and now it’s here I’m very satisfied. To have certainty is so valuable, to be free of doubts allows me to give it my all. It’s such a relief to finally be certain! I hope you all find certainty in your own paths too.