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.

Letting go 07: inspiration only?

The Abraham-Hicks teaching is simply to feel better by focusing on things that feel better.

Sounds a bit too simple, but it makes sense and with practice you’ll wonder why you used to give so much attention to things that feel bad.

The teachings go a lot deeper, but keeping it simple benefits us.

Speaking of going deeper: I’m excited at the thought of mastering this practice, and I’m proud of the breakthroughs I had on the subject of dieting before I even got into the A-H teachings.

I want to have as much clarity around everyday life and focus as I did on that subject.

Focus

Yesterday’s post made real progress. Today I want to observe more closely how my focus changes moment by moment, and the feeling-result of those changes.

Recently I’ve been inspired by the thought of living in the city. I’ve been looking at beautiful apartments and townhouses and just appreciating how enjoyable it would be to live in one of them with my family.

This is clearly inspiration. It feels amazing, and I naturally relish all the little details that pop into my head. Images and feelings and ideas keep occurring to me, and they all feel like relief, eagerness, appreciation, but stronger than that: they feel gratifying.

I’m looking at pictures of luxury penthouses and feeling gratified that such places exist.

Inspiration

So that’s inspiration. It wells up within me, doesn’t take effort, feels intrinsically rewarding, and simply excites me.

That inspiration should be my standard and my aim. Not living in a penthouse, but allowing inspiration to flow all the time and never cut it off or quash it. If inspiration flows toward thoughts of luxury penthouses, go with it. Don’t judge, don’t criticise, don’t overthink it.

Learning to let inspiration in is the skill here. It’s not about taking action to make the inspired goal a reality. It’s not about critiquing the goal to find a more “realistic” version of it. It’s about the inspiration itself.

Inspiration is the experience of alignment. Like being in love, appreciation, joy; these positive emotions are a sign of alignment with God/inner being.

Misalignment

Knowing what inspiration feels like, we know how it feels when we quash inspiration. It feels bleak, heavy, slow, stressful, effortful, and frustrating.

Inspiration is quashed when we focus on thoughts that contradict it. Or perhaps a better way of saying it is that inspiration has its own path and flow, and we lose it when we step outside it and focus on uninspiring things.

I started writing this morning, and my son was a bit grumpy and reluctant to go to school. I didn’t want to yell or push or coerce him to hurry up, so we took our time and got to school quite late.

The whole time, I was conscious that there was no inspiration in the dynamic or the drama of getting him ready. In other words this activity wasn’t worthy of much attention from me. Inspiration was not flowing there.

I don’t have an answer to that situation right this minute, but I have an intention to let more inspiration into my life around this subject of morning routine; and I’m already appreciating that the situation didn’t go badly.

A new rule?

For my diet I devised a rule of only eating when I was genuinely hungry, which for me meant only when I felt I couldn’t keep going without some immediate sustenance.

Perhaps there’s a new rule brewing here, to only follow my inspiration?

Letting go: going downstream

The words “letting go of the oars” trigger a profound sense of relief and trust and letting go.

Abraham-Hicks use the metaphor of “going downstream” to depict the ideal attitude for us in daily life.

Imagine you are in a boat on a river. All your life you’ve been told to paddle upstream: no pain no gain!

But in fact there’s nothing you want upstream. Everything you desire is downstream of you, and if you’d just let go of the oars the stream will turn you around and carry you effortlessly and pleasantly on your way.

This metaphor is all about trust and ease and letting go. And by checking how we feel we can immediately tell if we are fighting the current or allowing ourselves to be carried downstream.

Upstream thoughts or downstream thoughts? Those are the only options available to you, and all you need do is choose downstream.

The sage does nothing, yet nothing is left undone.

I love this idea of doing nothing, because I used to spend all day driving myself upstream with worrisome and anxious thoughts.

That image of being effortlessly carried downstream is so perfect for me.

I think that’s why “letting go of the oars” feels so good. What would happen if I trusted and did nothing?

I’ve caught a few glimpses of that state, and ironically that’s when true inspiration tends to strike, drawing me suddenly into excited, joyful, and happy activity.

So trust the stream, trust the current, let yourself be carried effortlessly towards the happiness that awaits you.

Tempting fate

Sometimes we feel drawn and almost impelled to pick up a topic or commit to an action that seems like it would change our circumstances for the better.

It’s the mixed feeling that if we just say something now or push a little we can get things moving and have what we want.

But it’s mixed because at the same time we feel hesitant. Something is off and action doesn’t feel like the next logical step so much as a venting of steam, not inspired but slightly manic.

Don’t do it

If you feel mixed about a course of action you’re pretty much guaranteed a result that is at best mixed and at worst a painful and difficult letting go of resistance.

The problem is that your reality is already a perfect match to the sum of your own thoughts and attention. You can’t solve a problem with the same mind (or feeling) that created it.

The mixed, uneasy feeling is your own guidance telling you what lies in store. Yes, your action might “move things along”, but not in an easy, enjoyable, magical way.

The man in the mirror

I love the analogy of looking in a mirror and trying to change the reflection instead of changing yourself.

The whole of your reality is a reflection of the thoughts you think and the story you tell yourself. So if you aren’t happy with it, change your thoughts and tell a new story.

The impulse to try to “bang things into place” by force or by interference might seem like the quickest path to the outcome you want, but it’s still all about the reflection.

If you are at peace your world will be at peace. If you feel contentment your world will reflect that. So what if you feel an urgent, uncomfortable need to stir things up and express your inner conflict and frustration?

When you’ve had enough of turmoil and doing it the hard way you’ll find yourself valuing ease a whole lot more, and declining the sudden and pressing offer to tempt fate once more.

Writing for fun, profit…and a desperate need for approval?

So i wrote an article and it was picked up by my editor, which means success! Money! Well done!

And today my wife mentioned that it’s May 4th tomorrow: Star Wars Day, and I immediately thought I could write another article and repeat that feeling of success and income and achievement.

Except that the moment I started it felt like a dry uphill battle. And then I started feeling physically uncomfortable and I started feeling some pain.

Okay. Let’s stop. This is pretty clear feedback.

For a number of years I’ve wanted some kind of formula for success – a task or work I can throw myself into and be applauded and rewarded for it.

But when I try, when I think “this is it!” bad things happen.

I really should just admit that I’m acting out of something negative. But it’s so enticing! I can just imagine this being the start of a whole series of great articles that build and build and bring me success and pride and please the people around me too.

I’ll be fitting in, finding my place, pleasing my superiors and placating those who’ve worried about me.

I’ll finally have an answer for the people who’ve demanded to know “what are you doing with your life?”

This is pretty cool contrast

I really don’t want writing to put me in physical pain, and I know there’s an issue here that would really benefit from my focus.

And I suspect the issue is: thinking that I must do something to win approval.

I’m actually really well accustomed to not feeling approved of, so much so that I sometimes leap at the chance to help people important to me.

But that’s still operating under the false premise that I require other people’s approval in order to feel good. I might have given up on it, but I still feel the weight of that premise.

All good feeling comes from within

Back to basics: it’s not our circumstances that make us feel good or bad, it’s the thoughts we focus on and their relative degree of alignment with our inner being, our “God’s eye view”.

Thinking that I need other people’s approval feels bad because it is not true and it is resistant to the love and appreciation that already flows to me from within.

My impulse to write another article was an attempt to use action to change my circumstances so I could feel better. That never works.

But that doesn’t mean I should resign myself once more to living without approval.

Feeling comes first

The only reason I wanted approval in the first place was because I thought I would feel good if I had it, and I believed I would get it if I found some work I could take pride in and earn money from.

Let’s go positive with this.

How would it feel to have approval of all the important people in my life?

It would actually feel really good.

But here’s the thing: In the moment I imagined that approval and felt that good feeling, I was simply allowing a good feeling to flow from within me.

That good feeling was always accessible within me. I just disallowed it because I thought I actually needed others to provide it.

In that sense does the feeling of “approval” ever come from others? No. It always comes from within us. It is our own allowing of approval to flow.

Happiness Challenge Day 5

Trying instead of doing.

There’s a difference between trying to feel good and actually feeling good. There’s a big gap between feeling satisfaction and just telling yourself you’re satisfied.

It’s time to recalibrate.

I noticed a pain in my SI joint returning, which happens whenever I push myself to do something, whenever I think “I just have to do this from now on…”

Feeling good shouldn’t require any real effort, just persistent practice. But four days in, the feeling of effort and tension is telling me I’m “trying” rather than doing.

Actually feeling good

Course corrections like this are exciting because it means I’ve made enough progress to have something to correct!

I’ve done something different for the past five days, enough that I’m now wanting to refine my course and check where I’m heading.

But I’m heading somewhere! That’s actually exciting and a great affirmation.

In practice, what I’m doing to correct my course is to spend more time actually feeling good, rather than just thinking about it.

A practice

To actually feel good requires stepping back from normal activities. The kind of good feeling I’m after is visceral. It comes with a deep breath slowly released. It comes with a feeling of genuine physical relaxation and relief.

It comes with a change in focus away from my present reality and into a vague and general good feeling.

It comes with a sense of ease and letting go of complicated details and specifics.

And with it comes a desire for more, a sense of anticipation as if I’m close to some kind of great revolution or turning point in my life.

It comes with a sense of something vastly greater than myself, a spiritual Being that is pure and transcendent and increasingly within reach.

Making this transcendent yet immanent Being the centre of my reality is the goal, because it is within this Being that my greatest and unconditional happiness resides.

Learning Chinese the eccentric way

calligraphy

In applied linguistics we were taught that the best way to learn a language is to use it.  How do you use a language? By making meaning.  Meaning-making is pretty much the opposite of memorising vocab lists and taking part in feeble and uninspiring scripted dialogues.

My ideal in learning Chinese has been to learn without making an effort to learn, to learn, as it were, by accident.

But the key to learning by accident is to have a need or a reason to make meaning in your would-be second tongue.  And while I have a number of reasons for wanting to be able to speak Chinese, I have little actual need for making meaning on a daily basis.

Thus far my best efforts have involved an obsessive degree of online searching for information relating to the martial art I practise.  I’ve learned quite a bit of incidental Chinese, can search online and perform fairly slow translations.  But although there’s a surprising amount of transferable vocabulary from martial arts to everyday use, I have to face the fact that this interest is no longer enough to drive my learning.

The next step in my eccentric plan has been to learn the lyrics to some memorable Chinese songs.  The vocab and grammar are generally more transferable, and if a song is good enough it’s hard not to sing along. What better approach to efficient language learning!

I’ve had this plan in mind for a number of years, but have been hamstrung by the limitations of popular Chinese music.  Aesthetic appeal is somewhat subjective, so let’s just say that Chinese pop tends to be quite homogenous, and neither syrupy/nostalgic ballads nor rap are my style.

However, I’ve recently discovered an excellent little tumblr site that chronicles a range of Chinese Indie music!  The odds of finding something interesting, memorable, and worth learning have dramatically increased.

First on the list is this track by 朴树/Pu Shu, titled 平凡之路/Ordinary Road.

I found both the song and the translation via fyeahchineseindie:

徘徊着的 在路上的 Those who are drifting down the road
你要走吗 via via Are you leaving now? via via
易碎的   骄傲着 Fragile and proud
那也曾是我的模样 That was how I once was.

沸腾着的    不安着的 Those who are passionate and restless
你要去哪 via via Where are you leaving for? via via
谜一样的  沉默着的 Like a mystery, and so sullen
故事  你真的   在听吗 Are you truly paying heed to the story?

我 曾经 跨过 山和大海 也穿过 人山 人海 I’ve crossed untold mountains and oceans, passed through crowds and crowds of people
我曾经拥有着一切 转眼都飘散如烟 Once, I had everything; but in the blink of an eye, it was all gone
我曾经 失落 失望 失掉 所有方向 Once, I was frustrated, desperate and lost
直到看见平凡才是唯一的答案 Until I saw the only answer has always been an ordinary road.

当你仍然 还在幻想 While you are still daydreaming
你的明天via via Your future via via
她会好吗 还是更烂 Will it better or get worse?
对我而言是另一天 To me it’s just another day

我曾经毁了我的一切 只想永远地离开 I once destroyed myself and wanted to leave forever
我曾经堕入无边黑暗 想挣扎无法自拔 I fell into an endless darkness, unable to save myself
我曾经像你像他像那野草野花 I used to be like you, like him, like wild flowers
绝望着 渴望着 哭着笑着平凡着 Full of despair and longing, crying, smiling and being ordinary

向前走 就这么走 就算你被给过什么 Go forward, as you are, no matter what you’ve suffered
向前走 就这么走 就算你被夺走什么 Go forward, as you are, no matter what has been taken away from you.
向前走 就这么走 就算你会错过什么 Go forward, as you are, even if you might miss things down the road
向前走 就这么走 就算你会 Go forward, as you are, no matter what…(Repeating)

我曾经问遍整个世界 从来没得到答案 I once asked the whole world, but never received an answer.
我不过像你像他像那野草野花 I used to be like you, like him, like wild flowers
冥冥中这是我 唯一要走的路啊 In the darkness, this became my only road

时间无言 如此这般  Time flies, just like that
明天已在眼前 Tomorrow is just around the corner
风吹过的 路依然远 With the breeze blowing, there is a long way to go.
你的故事讲到了哪 Your story,  how much has been told?

*I took some liberties with the translations to preserve meaning