Practicing happiness 11

Your aim should be to feel good.

If you can’t feel good, feel better.

If you can’t feel better, feel less bad.

If you can’t feel less bad, at least don’t feel worse.

If you can’t not feel worse, at least only feel a little bit worse.

If you can’t do any of these, at least appreciate that you know you’re not doing any of them!

Even the smallest shift changes your momentum.

Make the smallest shift, and tomorrow you can start afresh.

You’ll get there. Even if there’s some turbulence you’ll definitely get there.

Take these small steps and honestly you can’t help but get there.

Take these small steps and you can’t avoid getting there.

It’s all these tiny shifts in feeling that add up, free things up, and bring you lasting relief.

Just don’t give up, and be gentle on yourself when it seems like you’ve failed. You can’t fail. And no one else can tell you the magnitude of your challenge so don’t compare yourself to others or apologise for lack of progress.

F*** it all and just feel better (less bad, not as worse, etc).

Practicing happiness 10

Just keep feeling better.

It doesn’t get old. You’d think by now it would be ingrained in me that feeling better is always the answer.

But if it was ingrained I’d be doing it all the time already.

It’s ok to not be doing it all the time, but it’s no longer ok with me to push in any other direction.

Feeling better has brought me every improvement I can count and it’s done so with ease.

And the fact that I still have resistance makes perfect sense because if I didn’t have resistance my life would be perfect right now.

Right now it’s a perfect match.

But feeling better is growing on me, and I’m more and more aware of my options.

Make an effort – or feel better.

Think hard – or feel better.

Prove how smart I am – or feel better.

Push against unwanted – or feel better.

Strive for enlightenment – or feel better.

In the end, feeling better gives me what I was looking for anyway. It’s that old paradox that when you’re desperate for something you tend to drive it away, and when you cling to someone they tend to withdraw from you.

The answer is always to feel better, feel better, modestly and simply and without fanfare just feel the tiniest bit better.

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Ignoring things!

It’s funny that we feel good when we genuinely ignore, let go of, and forget about things that bother us, yet we tell ourselves it’s wrong to do so.

Do we have a duty to pay attention to things we’d rather ignore?

Let’s start with easy stuff like the news. I’ve mostly stopped following the news, though I still briefly read the headlines.

If I stop even reading the headlines I’m pretty sure I’ll feel better. And what would I miss out on? I could throw up a list of keywords right here, and most of us will have some kind of emotional reaction to them.

Ignorance is bliss, because when we genuinely ignore something it isn’t active in our thoughts or vibration.

Try this:

The Lithuanian President

The French President

The American President

Three different dignitaries will give you three different emotional reactions just at the mention of them, entirely dependent on how active they are in your thoughts and therefore how much momentum they have.

I don’t even know if Lithuania has a President. But boy do we all have an emotional reaction to the thought of America’s current leader.

We are told it’s important to be in the know, but it’s more important to feel good. If knowing about a subject makes you feel bad, then why not stop giving it attention? Let it gradually dissipate from your awareness and pay attention to things that feel good instead, even if it feels a bit strange at first.

Imagine if you could ignore all the pointless worries and interpersonal dramas that go on in life? Imagine being able to let go of any negative emotion on any subject.

The fact is that we can only give our attention to one thought at a time. Even thoughts that feel “okay” could be replaced by a thought that feels better.

Ignoring things that feel bad makes sense when we can turn our attention to something that feels less bad instead.

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Here’s a neat trick: if you pick a subject you don’t really care about and focus on it, you can quickly and easily find your alignment with Source and soon feel really really good.

If you’re like me your response might be “that’s great, but why would I spend time thinking about something that doesn’t matter to me?”

And therein is precisely why we get stuck feeling bad! We diligently focus only on difficult, challenging, important things. We can’t for the life of us daydream about positive things that don’t directly relate to us.

So why do it? Not for the subject, obviously, but for the feeling! Because when you feel good on one subject, it overflows into other ones including the ones you’re so hung up about.

It’s counterintuitive, but if you daydream about something that you don’t really have a vested interest in, you release all kinds of resistance and “realism” and in that moment you allow yourself to feel good.

When you feel good about anything it helps you feel good about everything. Give it a try. Imagine something you don’t strongly care about, like being really good in a discipline you don’t practice – music, art, architecture, cuisine, fashion. Imagine success and satisfaction and pride in that field and see how it feels unopposed by practiced resistance!

Practicing happiness 07

The answers come when you surpass them.

When you feel good, answers come without effort.

Last night I managed to feel better by letting go of my old internal struggle, and within minutes I discovered something remarkable.

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know I’ve been obsessed with mysticism for more than twenty years, and in the past week or so I’ve been writing about disorganised attachment.

So imagine how I felt when I came across this study into mystical experiences among people with disorganised attachment.

The paper argues that people with disorganised attachment have a propensity for mystical experiences due to trait absorption.

I just found my deeply personal lifelong efforts to transcend the paradoxical injunction of disorganised attachment written up in a Swedish psychology paper.

The authors are at pains to say this doesn’t delegitimise mystical experiences, in fact they argue it may be a worthy therapeutic goal.

For me it validates my deeply felt need for transcendence, and at the same time it helps me release that need a little.

Once again I credit my persistent work at feeling better for this insight. I can enjoy the insight because I feel better, not the other way around.

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This series is a way of keeping me focused and honest with myself. Am I really practicing feeling better? Or am I going off on interesting tangents?

Tangents are fine, but the habit of ignoring how I feel is not fine.

Feel better is the bottom line, and it deserves to be my primary focus.

Over time it’s becoming clearer that I’m just not used to feeling better. Used to running off intellectually? Yes. But that hasn’t brought me the lasting happiness I desire.

Perhaps intellectual escape served me for a time. Perhaps it was better than the alternatives. But I have new alternatives now.

Maybe it sounds strange to say I must get serious about feeling better. Yet it’s an easy work and a light burden.

All it takes is practice. And my unwillingness to practice will dissipate in time.

Unresolvable problems: the paradox of disorganised attachment

The paradox of disorganised attachment is that we have a biological need for closeness, security and comfort from parents or caregivers even when those parents or caregivers instil terror and a sense of threat in us.

Children with disorganised attachment are placed in a “paradoxical injunction” by the caregiver, according to Professor Erik Hesse from UC Berkeley, activating both an approach and a move away tendency in the child.

The search for answers

Spiritual teachings promising freedom from fear don’t necessarily work for people suffering from a disorganised attachment.

In my case, the search for spiritual truth and “answers” is an attempt to overcome the paradoxical injunction; yet the answers I found were too generic or insufficiently tailored to my circumstances of temperament and upbringing.

But it’s not just a matter of insufficient answers: the very act of searching can be seen as part of the disorganised dynamic…trying to overcome the feelings of fear and satisfy the need for secure attachment albeit in a highly abstract and intellectual way

Searching is therefore a symptom or expression of the paradoxical injunction, and is itself paradoxical – a search for answers that is never complete.

When I search I feel like I’m approaching a resolution. But in fact I’m acting out my approach, sublimating the desire for secure attachment with a caregiver into the desire for a spiritualised state of freedom and peace.

And that’s why it fails, because from within that dynamic I can only conceive of such a spiritual state as implicitly very difficult to attain.

The search is my attachment.

Resolving the unresolvable

How can this unresolvable problem be resolved? I think the only way to stop the cycle is before it begins, to stop feeding it with my search and acknowledge how I’ve kept it alive all these years.

I already know from my Abraham-Hicks work that I can feel better easily. And the more I practice feeling better, the better I feel.

I’ve also observed that my need to search for answers has been disruptive, making me feel worse in the long run despite the allure of finally finding a resolution.

On the most basic level I have an association of love with terror and security with instability. Things that are “safe” don’t offer the deepest happiness and things that offer happiness are beset with obstacles and threats.

But I can be mindful of this association now. I can observe it, see the pattern, and begin to let it go, instead of acting on it and thereby keeping it alive.

Feeling better: the smallest possible improvement

Just a quick addendum to the previous post: let your feeling better be the smallest possible improvement.

That’s how slight it is. Don’t try to have some kind of brutal shift in your emotions. For me (and others who habitually try to hard) it’s better to aim for the slightest improvement in how you feel.

You know why? Because the slightest improvement is achievable. You can do that. And there’s immense value in knowing and seeing and confirming that you did it.

You did it. You felt better at will. And yes it was slight, but you know it was the right direction. Slight improvement after slight improvement, just whenever you remember; if it’s all in the right direction then you’re really getting somewhere. You’re really practicing the right movement.

Take all the stress and urgency out of it. In your own words and your own way just find the smallest improvement to your feelings right now!

Practicing happiness 05

I can choose to feel better.

It starts small. It’s a tiny, gentle change in direction.

It’s a choice to feel better, regardless of circumstances.

You can choose it again and again and again, choosing that “feel better” feeling, just because you know it’s better than anything else you could do right now.

Just feel better! Modestly and gently feel better, and over time you’ll start to get the change in direction. You’ll start to feel the difference as you practice.

Old problems might come up, new challenges might arise, but I promise that you can practice feeling better through those as well.

And then what?

After practicing like this (and some other things arising and resolving) it suddenly became clear to me that when I feel better I’m actually turning to the presence of God/Source/inner being within me.

The better feeling is God’s presence, my Source, pure positive energy, and I’m just letting myself feel it.

When you feel better you are aligning with God, with Source, and the true source of all love and happiness within you.

So keep practicing! Feel better now…and now…and now. Ask yourself “what would feel better right now? What’s the best feeling thing I can do right now? How can I relax and feel better?”

Every time you choose to feel better your power grows, and it accumulates faster than you realise. It’s just that it’s a small and gentle and modest shift. But that’s all it takes. You don’t have to go anywhere or do anything dramatic because alignment has always been so close by all this time.

Because it’s close, you don’t need effort. Because it’s close, you don’t need a reason. Because it’s close, you can always find it.

Just feel better, just a little bit better, just find a gentle direction of better feeling and do it again and again until feeling better becomes your new way of being.

Practicing happiness 04

When you feel like crap “just feel better” is the most unhelpful-sounding advice. After all, there are reasons why you feel bad right now, it’s not simply a choice, right?

Well that’s true: it’s not simply a choice; it’s also a practiced habit. That’s why feeling bad comes easier than feeling better, at first.

As I’m learning about attachment theory, I can see how feeling better is like a child turning to his or her parent or caregiver for security, comfort, reassurance and affection.

Perhaps the sense that feeling better is trivial or not enough is related to our attachment style? If we never learned to find genuine security and comfort with a parent or caregiver then we implicitly never learned to value simply feeling better when we feel bad.

Bitter self-reliance

For me the inability to find reliable security and comfort in my attachments led to a kind of resignation towards suffering, and self-reliance in seeking to avoid future suffering.

That’s why “feel better” seems insufficient to me…I never learned how. Ingrained in my childhood was more of a “endure until it goes away” approach to suffering, followed by an intense search for deeper answers that promised to help me “overcome” suffering forever.

And that pattern has helped shape my life. Alongside my perennial search for “answers”, I’ve done my best to avoid suffering as much as possible while also silently enduring whatever conditions I consider unavoidable.

Securely feeling better

That’s why feeling better is ultimately such a powerful thing to learn and practice especially when I feel like it’s “not enough”.

Every moment of intentionally feeling better is retraining my mind and body into a completely new pattern capable of maintaining equilibrium and balance.

Imagine what a difference that makes, to go from an attitude where suffering is inevitable (and can only be overcome through extreme effort) to one where suffering can be quickly and effectively neutralised and soothed, and the opposite – genuine good feeling – can be developed and grow.

That’s why those moments where I feel bad, and feeling better seems insufficient, are the most valuable moments to practice.