Happiness Day 30

For thirty days I’ve been focusing on happiness, wanting good feelings to be the norm and bad feelings the rare exception.

So how did it go?

It went really really well 😄

Right from the beginning it reframed my inner landscape. The intention to feel good got me to look up instead of down, and start appreciating how often I felt good already.

Abraham teaches that our reality is created primarily by our inner being (God) who is pure positive energy. The role of our physical self and our worldly focusing mind is significant, but in terms of negativity it can only really create friction, it can’t halt the power of our inner being.

That’s why it is always possible to feel better, whether better be less bad or genuinely good.

In other words things are always better than they seem. Happiness is attainable, it just takes practice to retrain our focus.

What is life like now?

Life is really good now.

I’m laughing and smiling a lot more. I’m finding deeper appreciation of the many good things in my life.

I’m handling the contrast so much better! I can soothe bad feelings much more easily, and I even appreciate contrast because I can see how it’s helping me to focus in certain directions.

I’ve had insights just come to me on subjects dear to my heart. By day 30 I found myself musing on inspiration and the question I’ve long deferred: what do I really want to be doing in my life?

I no longer feel like I need to explain, justify, or apologise for my mood and lack of energy, because I’ve shown myself for thirty days that it’s entirely up to me how much energy I have, since I can decide what to focus on and how I focus!

Satisfied and eager for more

Last night my 1yo daughter slept through the night in her cot. That is a genuine miracle! I never even thought it would happen, and yet it all happened so suddenly and so easily.

And I allowed it to happen. My focus on being happy weakened my resistance and my negativity, and opened the tiniest crack in my old story, and circumstances that seemed unwanted opened the path for this new sleeping routine.

Many other things have shifted, small but meaningful and sometimes enormous in their significance to me. Things that were difficult have gotten easier. Things that felt hopeless feel easy. And things I already enjoyed and appreciated have become even more satisfying and wonderful.

What next?

This challenge has only whetted my appetite for more.

I can feel so much potential to feel better and refine my processes. There are many things I would like to allow into my experience, and now I know how to do it.

And without planning it, blogging has become a new experience for me and a wonderful discipline and tool for helping me train my focus.

Being able to write here fulfils an old desire that my writing become more like my private journaling in terms of ease and content.

I’ve written 55 posts in this thirty days. To put that in perspective, the previous 55 posts took about six months to write.

Blogging each day not only kept me focused, it also helped me develop my thoughts and deepen my understanding of this path I’m on.

I don’t yet know what form the next segment will take, but I want blogging to be part of it, and I want it to take my new habits even further.

Thank you for following, reading, and liking my posts! Having you reading my posts has helped keep me honest and on-track!

Happiness Day 27

Being specific in your desires.

I’ve wanted my life to change but I’ve had only a very general idea of what that might look like.

General is good.

When you’re feeling bad you don’t want to get into specifics. Go from bad feeling specifics to bad feeling generalities. From there it’s easier to feel better and slowly get to the point of feeling good generally.

But I’ve been gradually more aware that my lack of specifics on certain subjects is indicative of where I’m at.

According to the Abraham-Hicks teachings we don’t need to get specific to get what we want. God knows all our desires and needs.

But as we get closer to being a match to those desires we will naturally find ourselves contemplating the specifics.

What are your dreams?

I spent a lot of time crushing my own dreams, in the mistaken belief that dreams are a cause of suffering because life never lives up to them.

I thought I was doing the right thing, but I actually dampened down my own inspiration and enthusiasm for life.

And naturally I was not as happy as I wanted to be.

My wife would often ask me what I like, and I’d shrug because I had spent years earnestly trying to be devoid of preferences as a way of becoming immune to suffering (didn’t work!).

Rediscovering the details

There’s a kind of rehabilitation to it, the work of rediscovering the details of your dreams and desires and rescuing them from “what does it matter?” and other cynical thoughts.

What makes this process exciting is the knowledge that these details already exist for you, and that rediscovering them is really about tuning into that aspect of yourself and your reality.

You can’t get it wrong. There’s no danger of making mistakes and choosing the wrong thing, because your preferences are already there.

For me this is especially pointed when I think about a new house, because to my mind there are so many varying styles and details of architecture and location that I appreciate, I feel like I could find the good in anything.

But finding good in anything is not the same as knowing what you most want. In fact it’s not even close!

Count Your Blessings Day 10

Getting picky!

I can feel all of this work coming together.

I’m laughing a lot more and feeling good a lot more.

I’m really sensitive to “old stories” that don’t feel good.

In fact some things that felt good before – like my morning routine of getting my son ready for school – don’t feel so good now.

I want it to be an easier, more enjoyable process for us both. And it’s as if being happier has raised my expectations.

I don’t want to rush, and I don’t want to feel pressed or pressured. So I won’t.

It actually doesn’t matter if he’s late for school. What matters is that he gets enough sleep and we have a good time together.

What I love is walking him to school, playing the feeling game together, talking about how good the day is going to be.

I love the trees along our walk, especially the enormous fir tree in front of the old college.

I want to live among trees like that. That’s my dream.

I wrote all that just minutes before waking him up. While his breakfast cooked I helped him get dressed, and now he’s 90% ready, with 10 mins to go, and he’s still able to watch his favourite YouTube channel.

It can be easy, if we allow it to be! And we allow it by focusing on what we want and really feeling it.

Later

The walk was fun. If I focused on getting there my son got slower and more tired. But if I focused on enjoying the walk myself he sped up to walk alongside me.

We ran into an old friend on the way there and she stopped to chat as we walked along.

I’m now sitting in a garden beneath the amazing fir tree while I finish this post and ask myself “what next?”

What next?

I was contemplating wrapping up this Blessings series because I missed a day and wasn’t sure how to keep it going.But I can see that’s coming from a feeling of worry, when really there’s nothing about blogging that should inspire worry.

So I’ll keep letting it evolve and see where it takes me.

For now I think my original purpose has been served. Counting my blessings changed my perspective of what blessings are and how many I have.

It’s beyond counting now. Yet the focus on appreciating what is in my life is still valuable.

For appreciation to become my dominant feeling I need to practise it.

Count Your Blessings Day 7

I love my kids! They are so rewarding!

My son is such a smart and caring and lovely kid. And my 1yo daughter is so adorable!

She once again soothed herself to sleep in her cot!

I’m so proud of my son, especially with how well he has taken to the “feeling game” tricks I’ve been practicing with him. We work on subjects together, helping each other find ways to feel good about them.

My favourite part is when he comes home all excited to tell me how well the feeling game worked.

Kids have very little resistance to good things happening, so he’s a real source of inspiration for me.

We keep coming up with new tricks and ideas that help him (and me) soothe difficult subjects and find inspiration.

Translating these concepts for a child’s point of view is a lot of fun and helps solidify my own understanding.

Besides, he really keeps me honest and on track with my own feeling processes. His lower resistance inspires me to do better with my difficult subjects.

And as children often do, asking “Why? Or Why not?” prompts me to reconsider and think more openly about life’s possibilities.

Evolution

When I started this “Count Your Blessings” series I had no idea what to expect from it.

But with each iteration I feel things shifting subtly. Part of me wants to be really consistent and methodical (because it’s counting). Instead it’s evolving because my ability to appreciate is growing, and with that I am able to appreciate new things, and old things in new ways.

I don’t have a clear sense of where this is headed, but I’m noticing episodic changes in how I perceive things.

Like my “doing the dishes” post, and my success with getting our 1yo to go to sleep by herself, I’m finding myself suddenly inspired to look at difficult aspects of my life and instead of rejecting the unwanted, find in myself a genuine desire for something I can love and appreciate.

How I want my life to be, my relationships to be, my family, career, income and health, home and hobbies…everything can be transformed and translated by finding the aspects we desire in love and appreciation.

Count Your Blessings Day 3

Counting your blessings makes you better at noticing and appreciating the blessings already in your life, converting you from a mindset of survival to one of abundance.

This morning my son noticed a branch of a local bank as we drove by. “That bank is everywhere!” he exclaimed.

I told him that when we pay attention to something, we easily find more of it, whether it was already there, or newly coming into our experience.

Today’s count begins with last night, taking my daughter for a walk around the block again. She quickly fell asleep and slept well for several hours!

I slept well too, and though it seemed today would be empty of activities, I ended up taking the kids to visit friends for a lovely catch-up!

The friends gave my kids some Easter eggs, and also us some packets of Malaysian instant noodles to take home 😍

The weather was perfect today, just like the last three!

The friend we visited is also my kung fu teacher, and we chatted briefly about concepts in training. I’m looking forward to our next session!

I spent half an hour sitting on my front porch sipping a delicious coffee and working on my blog as the cool breeze rustled the leaves of our plants right in front of me. The sound of the road was like all the busyness of life passing by while I relaxed in the shade. What a feeling of peace!

Going out each day helps me appreciate coming home. I used to want to be home all the time, but it’s even more fun when there’s activity and energy and interactions with other people away from home. I’m feeling more engaged by life!

I think it relates to openness. It’s not that blessings can’t flow to us alone at home, but what is the motivation keeping us out of circulation? Is it resistance? If so, then it is necessary to go out and be open, not for the sake of what is “out there” but for the spirit of allowing and receptivity.

I spent a couple of hours playing minecraft with my son, and then I cooked dinner while my wife took the kids out for a walk!

Sipping delicious home brew and listening to an Abraham recording while the air filled with delicious smells…I took a minute to sit on the couch and just revel in the beautiful ambience.

A neighbour dropped by during dinner with an Easter gift for the kids and we gave her some pasta to take home.

An old friend and walking-buddy got back from holiday and we went for a late night walk followed by a catch-up on the past week.

Reflection

I’m currently lying on the couch, legs draped across my wife’s lap as she plays games on her phone. I’m really sleepy but wanted to finish this post before I get to bed. Both kids are asleep; it’s been an excellent day and I’m completely worn out.

What I really want to reflect on is how my days increasingly feel like a series of good things. Counting my blessings like this makes each day seem full of activity.

And the effect is translating into real-time; I’m looking for what each day will bring as I live it. Instead of being at home and avoiding interruptions, I’m actively opening myself to new activities and experiences with an attitude of expectation because I know I’m going to be writing it all down at the end of the day!

It’s like being a character in a movie and knowing that the plot must be about to start, or playing a game and just taking for granted that there’s an npc who will set the ball rolling for you.

I can easily and happily envisage my life becoming a series of activities and events, like a string of pearls or a montage in a movie where the in-between bits barely register.

Or alternatively, my sense of what a blessing is and my power of appreciation might expand until doing the dishes is a blessing, folding the laundry is a blessing.

I mean, lying on the couch right now is a blessing for sure, and there are other things personal or prosaic that don’t make it into the list.

Imagine, then, a life of continual blessings and constant appreciation from morning til night. Imagine how good that would feel! Imagine the kind of person you would be, to find happiness and appreciation your whole life through!

Count Your Blessings Day 2

I’m really impressed that this “count your blessings” series has already proven to be much more than just a list of good things.

It’s already prompted a serious rethink of what constitutes a “blessing” in my life, and reinforced my need to affirm and endorse my personal perspective against the crowd.

Things got meta real quick, and if that’s not a persona form of blessing, I don’t know what is.

So let’s start today’s count with this very idea:

First, I was inspired to start counting my blessings on the blog!

Last night I was inspired to go for a walk around our big block carrying my daughter in her sleeping bag. She fell asleep ten minutes in, and I brought her home and put her straight to bed!

Afterwards I had a great conversation with my wife about things that had been troubling her. It was very positive and significant and great to share.

I slept well!

It’s another beautiful autumn day with the sun shining, birds singing, and a cool refreshing breeze reassuring us that colder weather is on its way.

I had a good phone conversation with my brother about temperaments and family and religion and lifestyle stuff. Par for the course of our interesting discussions.

My wife misplaced her glasses and we haven’t yet found them. This might not sound like a blessing but I love omens and she’s definitely having to see the world differently for a bit 😜

We all went for a walk around the neighbourhood for an hour or so and bought some pies from a local bakery that turned out to be the most delicious we’ve had in years!

I found my wife’s glasses…acting on intuition, it turned out our daughter had hidden them away in a toy box.

Tonight we visited friends at their beautiful new home and stayed for dinner. Much beer was enjoyed, the kids had a great time playing together, and it was a lovely night (made all the better by a growler of home brew IPA to take home).

Reflection

This discipline of counting my blessings has changed how I relate to events in my day.

Previously, visiting friends would have been fun…BUT I would have been preoccupied by worries.

Are we bringing enough? Is it too much, will they be insulted? Should we have brought something for the kids? How long should we stay?

If I wasn’t actively looking for blessings to count, I would have been too caught up in worries to appreciate how good it is to catch up with friends for the evening.

This practice of counting blessings prompts me to put things into categories: either blessings or not. And if they are, I should appreciate them fully.

Yesterday I reflected on the deeply personal things that could count as blessings…even if the crowd has no use for them. Today I’m at the other extreme, appreciating things that are obviously blessings (duh!) notwithstanding my old neurotic worries about them.

I don’t need to spell out that this is all a blessing too, but I will because it’s just the sort of insight I appreciate! Thank you!

Count Your Blessings Day 1

Today I was inspired to start focusing on all the good things happening to me each day.

The whole point of feeling better is to feel better, but our progress can also be measured in the circumstances of life.

Better yet, appreciating the good things we already have is an excellent way to feel better about life right now.

So I thought it a good idea to begin adding up and appreciating these good things in life and posting them here to help me focus.

First up: I slept really well last night! I woke up feeling relaxed and rested.

My wife’s plans for the day changed, and instead of cleaning up the house for guests she’s gone out to a cafe and the baby is asleep so I have unexpected alone-time to relax and think about things and feel good!

I had an insight into my planned Four Temperaments book. I realised that trying to be methodical and exhaustively detached just didn’t suit me. I don’t just want to rehash what others have said; I want to share my own experiences and reflections and that means taking an unapologetically melancholic perspective for a determinedly melancholic audience!

My wife spontaneously did a couple of chores around the house that we’ve both been meaning to do for ages but never got around to!

It’s delightfully cool and windy today – the autumn weather I love most!

I roasted my last batch of coffee and ordered twenty kilos more of green beans!

We had a great Easter with a big family lunch yesterday and it all went really well!

This morning I heard an excerpt from an Abraham-Hicks talk, and it inspired me to write a blog post that really homes in on my spiritual perspective. I was really pleased with that post, and it even drew together a poem by Kabir, a passage from the Dao De Jing, an excerpt from Samuel and a bit of Theology of sacrifice and atonement. Suitably eclectic, interior and mystical!

I took my daughter for a walk this afternoon and met up with my wife. We enjoyed looking at beautiful and interesting houses on the way home.

My wife saved me some delicious churros. I don’t think I’ve had them before.

We had enough ingredients for a tasty salad for dinner, drank a beer brewed by a friend, and watched one of my favourite tv shows.

An easy, pleasant day full of enjoyment and peaceful relaxation!

A reflection

Counting blessings is an interesting process because it begs the question prompts me to wonder: what are blessings to me?

Something prosaic like my wife spontaneously finishing an old chore is meaningful to me in my life.

And it’s translatable to others in the form of: a lingering domestic burden suddenly and easily taken care of. Nice!

But more personal to me are things like: being inspired to write a post that hits all the right notes for my spiritual beliefs and experiences.

It doesn’t need to be translated to others, but perhaps I need to translate it for myself? Because things like money and property and relationships are often easier to assign value to, since their value is widely accepted (though still variable and subjective).

We can “count our blessings” financially and familially and in terms of health and relationships. But ultimately blessings are for us as individuals to appreciate, and what I appreciate as an individual needn’t have currency to others more broadly.

Like finding an article in Chinese about the martial art i practice. It’s a rare art and resources are scarce, so even a humble newspaper article means a lot to me. Count my blessings!

But even that can be translated to others.

Let me then consider a blessing the ease with which I thought of, and found online, the quotations I used in my blog post.

Let me consider it a blessing the ease with which I put into words my experience of finding God within me, and the work of soothing and reconciling worldly thoughts that take me away from that inner peace and knowing.

Let me count as a blessing how I managed to soften and soothe a painful thought, rather than digging into it looking for resolution.

If we rely on others’ real or imagined criteria for what a blessing is, we might think we are hard done by.

But laying claim to the things that I value, the things that are blessings to me, I can appreciate more fully the abundance at my disposal.

After all, I’ve been wanting and asking for unusual things like deeper understanding of prayer and mediation, greater familiarity with sacred texts, and an instinctive sureness in finding my own answers.

If I count them all they will add up to a great deal, regardless of how much store others place in them. I’m the one who values them, so let me value them properly and feel the appreciation of being so blessed!

Redirect your attention

Each day take attention away from thoughts and things that feel bad and give attention to thoughts and things that feel good.

In time you will no longer have any bad feeling thoughts in your mind or things in your life.

In time the redirection of your attention won’t be from bad to good, but from good to better.

Always finding better feeling thoughts no matter what the circumstances or conditions around you, even the most unpleasant thought can be soothed and even the happiest thought can expand further.

In time your whole existence will be one of joyfully keeping up with the expanding happiness within you and around you.

Happiness Challenge Day 6

As we are working at feeling better, new ideas and emotions can come up.

We might have great sudden insights into problems that have plagued us. Or we might have painful incidents arise, reminding us of old problems or anxieties.

It’s tempting to pursue and try to wrestle with these ideas and emotions. But we have to remind ourselves that this is not our job.

Your job is to feel better

It’s never our efforts that bring great ideas, and it’s never our efforts that resolve painful issues and emotions.

Instead it’s by feeling better, intentionally giving ourselves feelings of relief and appreciation and contentment, that we make progress.

Bad feelings that crop up or new ideas that come to mind are just signs of the progress we are making.

So don’t get disheartened or distracted. Just feeling good is enough. It’s by feeling good that life will change, not by understanding insights or grappling with painful feelings.

Greater insights await, and negative emotions will have even less hold, as we progress in feeling good.

Dissatisfaction is a sign

What happens when a day of feeling good is followed by a day of dissatisfaction?

Why does yesterday’s positive feeling feel unreachable today?

This sense of dissatisfaction is a sign that we aren’t keeping up with our desire to feel good.

Desire is a living, evolving, dynamic thing. It doesn’t sit still. When we focus on a feeling like appreciation it feels good, but that good feeling is not a static, repeatable experience.

Maybe yesterday you felt appreciation, and now today what would really feel good is excitement?

It’s a bit like having a nourishing bowl of hot soup when you are cold and famished. That soup really hit the spot. But that doesn’t mean you’ll want to eat the same soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner tomorrow.

The nature of desire is that you won’t enjoy the same soup in the same way immediately. But that’s not a problem, because there are so many other good foods to enjoy and plenty of time to enjoy them.

Unlike food, feeling comes in a hierarchy. We can enjoy deeper and more joyful feelings as we become better at practicing appreciation and enjoyment.

So if we are finding it difficult to regain the sense of appreciation we felt yesterday, it is likely because we are ready for a deeper appreciation today.

This appreciation is, after all, the experience of our closeness to God, and God is infinite and illimitable love and happiness. The only limit is our own willingness to practice, and allow it.