Practicing happiness 13

My goal is to feel better all the time, to master the art of finding alignment, that soothing, gentle, and satisfying place within myself.

This art stands alone. It’s independent of external circumstances – though obviously it’s easier to practice when conditions are good.

It’s a bit like learning to have good posture. Harder to do it when you’re tired or stressed or busy with work, but eventually it’s something you can practice even in the most difficult circumstances. And there comes a time when it’s easy under any circumstances.

I’m feeling so much better. I’m learning to feel better more consistently, and the process has brought up (and let go) many points of resistance.

Resistance is where I implicitly or explicitly say that something is more important than feeling better. It never is.

And as I let go of my resistance I become easier in myself. I create less friction and less turmoil in my life. I soften conflict rather than exacerbate it. I tend towards relief rather than struggle.

It’s definitely a skill, and even an art. It’s changing my life from the inside out, and I’m extremely grateful for it.

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.

Practicing happiness 06

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.

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.

Happiness Day 28

Fear of being positive.

Why are we afraid to be positive? It’s because we don’t want to get our hopes up only to be disappointed.

This fear can set in on all kinds of subjects: money, relationships, housing, jobs, etc.

But this is also a sign that we aren’t applying the principles correctly in these instances. Because genuine positivity is not fearful, nor should it feel like some kind of ploy or plot to improve our circumstances.

How it works

If I want more money and I feel bad about not having enough, how should I address this desire, these thoughts, and negative feelings?

Many people approach law of attraction or positive thinking as a way to “get their stuff”. We take at face value that wanting more money and feeling bad is a “problem” that will be solved by getting more money.

But from the Abraham-Hicks perspective the actual problem here is that I am focusing on something unwanted (not enough money).

Paradoxically, the reality of not having enough money is a symptom of focusing on an unwanted reality, not the cause.

Feel better

Many people are too caught up in their own desperation and try to use these principles to change their circumstances, rather than changing their focus.

But if you can’t change your focus your circumstances won’t change either.

The problem is that thoughts like “I don’t have enough money” feel bad. They feel bad because they conflict with the perspective of our own inner being (God) who is always offering us an abundance of love, appreciation, and blessings.

The whole point of what we prosaically call “positive thinking” is to align ourselves with the perspective of God, our inner being, and enjoy the fruit of that alignment.

How do we do it?

On the subject of money we can do this by paying attention to how we feel, and the thoughts, words, and perspectives we are focused upon.

Thoughts like “I don’t have enough money” or “money is so hard to come by” feel bad. So as a first step, try to find thoughts that feel less bad.

In the past I’ve sometimes felt like I don’t have as much money as I want. It’s seemed like money is not as easy to come by as I would like.

Small adjustments to your words have great implications. Absolutes can be made relative so that instead of “not enough” we say “not as much as I would like”. Negatives are made positive, so “hard” becomes “not as easy”. I’ve also added words that make it less definite: “sometimes” instead of an implied “always”; and I’ve made the statements a matter of how I’ve felt, or how things have seemed, rather than unilateral declarations of objective truth.

From there it is easier to feel a little better:

I would like more money. I would like money to come more easily.

This is infinitely softer and better-feeling than my initial bold insistence on how bad things are.

I would love it if money came to me easily. I would love it if money just came into my experience whenever I wanted it.

I would love to spend time working on my projects. I would love to spend time hiring the people I need, buying the materials I want, paying for the work I want done.

I love the idea of having the best people with the right expertise at my disposal, and the highest quality tools and materials available to me.

I’ve gone off on a good-feeling tangent! And the point is that I changed my focus from thoughts about money that felt bad, to thoughts about money that felt less bad, then better, and finally thoughts that feel good.

This is the way to apply positive-thinking principles: not as a vain attempt to change one’s circumstances in order to feel better — yet plagued by the fear that change will not come; but as a direct, reproducible, and immediately successful change in focus towards better-feeling thoughts.

Keeping up with alignment

In my previous post I wrote:

At the heart of the Abraham Hicks material is the observation that whatever we desire, we desire it because we think we will feel better when we have it. But it is not having things that makes us feel better, it is alignment with our own inner being, God’s presence within us.

I wanted to follow this idea in a slightly different direction.

We desire things in this world because we think having them will make us feel better.

But what actually makes us feel better is having thoughts that are aligned with our inner being.

So does our inner being think that having what we desire will make us feel better?

Not the right question?

I think the answer is that this is not quite the right question.

Abraham teaches that whenever we encounter something unwanted, we launch a desire. In that moment our inner being expands to become that newly launched desire.

For example, if I’m hungry but there’s nothing to eat in the fridge then my noticing of that unwanted condition launches a desire for food, based on my thought that I will feel better if that condition arises.

But in that moment my inner being already expands into that better feeling. My inner being already feels like it’s eating delicious food and feeling satisfaction and enjoyment.

I, however, still have a choice of whether to go with my inner being and share that feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction, or keep thinking about the condition of the empty fridge which leaves me feeling dissatisfied and disappointed.

That dissatisfaction and disappointment exists because in the moment I noticed the empty fridge my desire was launched and my inner being went with it, but I did not.

That’s the whole point!

You might be thinking “but the fridge really is empty…” and that may be true for now…or it may not. I might have missed something!

We are encouraged to be realistic and look at what is really there in front of us.

But something else that is really here in front of us is our ability to feel good right now without waiting for the condition to change.

Is it unrealistic to feel satisfaction and enjoyment when we have the power and the desire to do so?

Isn’t it a real ability to feel good without waiting for external conditions to change?

If imagining food can feel just as good as actually eating food (sometimes better!) then it’s an entirely realistic option.

This is how you create your reality

Quite apart from what is in the fridge, there is a world of difference between the me who feels disappointed that there’s nothing to eat, and the me who feels enjoyment and satisfaction by keeping up with my inner being as it expands into the desire.

My observation is that small children are happy because they haven’t yet learned to focus so tenaciously on unwanted things. I was reminded of this yesterday when I was discussing birthday cakes with my son. I baked his cake last year and tried to make it look like a Minecraft sword.

I was heartily disappointed with the outcome, but he loved it, and when I mentioned it yesterday his eyes lit up and, oblivious to my negativity, he praised it with enthusiasm.

He hadn’t learned to compare it to the professional designs online and criticise the wobbly edges or the dull colour of the icing. He went with his inner being on that one.

Jesus said “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

I’ve looked for good interpretations or explanations of that line. The best explanation I’ve found is the one described above, thanks to the Abraham Hicks material.

We are meant to go with our inner being. We are meant to feel good. We are meant to create a better-feeling reality.

And in our focus on unwanted conditions we have no idea what is possible. Whether you look at it on the level of psychology and expectations or on the level of miracles and providence, what we think, believe, and subsequently feel is of greatest importance in the conditions of the world that follow.

So to answer the question…

In the spirit of expansion and ever-more-answers: no, our inner being does not think that feeling better will come from having what we desire.

Not that it would disagree, but that the question would not occur because our inner being always feels good, and it knows that we can feel good too the moment we join its good-feeling perspective.

I like to think of the inner being as a dear friend or loved one who is always feeling good, and when you’re with them you feel good too. So long as you stay with that beloved person you are happy.

But there’s a problem: this friend of yours is always racing ahead joyfully into every opportunity that comes along, whereas you tend to grow cautious and resistant at unfamiliar situations. You want to stop and weigh the pros and cons and give yourself time to think about it.

When you do that, you’ve forgotten that you are happiest when you are together with your friend, and really nothing else matters.

You would be happier to forget your worries and just stay with your friend wherever they go, rather than dithering and delaying and always lagging behind.

That’s the kind of relationship we have with our inner being. We have a desire for some new condition, and our inner being races ahead into appreciation of that condition. But we hold back, thinking we need the condition before we can feel appreciation and joy and all those good feelings.

So, no, our inner being doesn’t join us in thinking that the conditions we desire will make us feel better, because our inner being always feels good, it always immediately expands to embrace our desires, and it never shares our misguided and ill-feeling attention to what is unwanted or missing from our experience.

Therefore, we can find alignment with our inner being on this subject if we stop looking to our conditions to make us feel better. Our desires will keep arising, and our inner being will keep expanding; it’s up to us to keep up with it, staying aligned with that wellspring of love, joy, and appreciation.

Life is here to be enjoyed

Life is here to be enjoyed, I am here to enjoy life.

That is such a difficult thing for me to write.

I know it sounds strange, but I’ve spent more than twenty years explicitly thinking that enjoyment is a superficial distraction from the real meaning of life.

With a childhood in which enjoyment was scarce and a temperament prone to sensitivity and idealism, I accepted at face value that “enjoying life” was something that other people did, and to the detriment of finding meaning or purpose.

I looked critically at mainstream sanguine and choleric expressions of enjoyment, and let these stand for “enjoying life” and “having fun”. It didn’t occur to me that I might find my own forms of fun and enjoyment in life.

And anyway, there was a slew of mystics, sages and saints to reassure me that enjoyment and fun were vain, pointless adventures that would leave me empty and full of regrets.

Religious deprogramming

There’s a familiar trope of people who rebel against their childhood religious indoctrination, and need to search out for themselves valid and fulfilling beliefs about life, happiness, and their own identity and value.

I’m doing that now, but the terrain I’m covering is a little more varied and eclectic due to my own early search for deeper meaning and purpose.

I can’t remember all the books I read, and my mistaken beliefs are an amalgamation of many different sources, because I adhered to no single creed or set of teachings.

For example, I’ve gone back and reread parts of Awareness by Anthony de Mello, and I can see how I took that text and interpreted it in my own way, oblivious to my own idiosyncrasies or those of the author.

Yesterday I reread a little about Bede Griffiths, and reading between the lines, the guy had a difficult life and his own fair share of problems. Would the answers that he found really be appropriate for me, two generations later, in completely different circumstances of life?

Just now I’ve taken a quick look back at the writings of Jiddu Krishnamurti, and I can see immediately that his work is decidedly not for me. Wrong temperament, maybe even the wrong teaching, and something that clearly contributed to my sense of needing to battle against an internal enemy, whether it be called Ego or Thought.

In recent years I’ve come to respect my desire to arrive at my own conclusions and my reluctance to invest in anyone else’s point of view. But it was not always the case, and I feel it’s now time to let go of these authorities I discovered and appointed for myself.

Perhaps in a sweeping clean of my past willingness to believe, I can say that: only what speaks to me is of value to me. It doesn’t matter that a person is a saint or a sage or a seer; their inscrutable or obscure insights are their own and not mine, and it’s for me to test them and apply them, not take them on faith and try to force myself to fit.

Do I deserve to enjoy life?

At the heart of this is a question of whether I myself deserve to enjoy life, or whether I must instead change myself, become better, be transformed. Transformation is what I sought in the writings of these mystics. But no matter how hard I tried to change myself, all I found was more and more dissatisfaction with my life, my self, and the whole of reality.

When I looked for answers I hoped those answers would show me the way out, out of unhappiness and suffering, out of the mundane world, out of my mundane self.

And in part that simply reflected the confusion and unhappiness of my early life, but it also reflected a sense that I wasn’t good enough as I was, did not deserve to enjoy life or be happy.

When I think about how we create our own reality through the filter of our thoughts and expectations and feelings, I can see how fitting it was that “enjoyment” looked crass and empty to me, and the things I would have truly enjoyed seemed too distant or ethereal or unachievable.

And my memories of feeling deeply insecure and unworthy when good things did happen completes the picture.

Because there were always good things there, I just didn’t think I deserved to have them, and feeling undeserving I sought to change myself to become worthy of the freedom, love and happiness I wanted.

That is why my prayers went unanswered – I was praying to not be me. Or I prayed to be rid of unwanted conditions, all the while clinging to the thoughts and feelings that exacerbated and created those conditions.

Feeling better is unconditional

Lately I’ve discovered that I do not need conditions to change in order for me to feel better.

That includes the internal conditions I have set such stock in: solving problems, finding answers, understanding, engaging with negative emotions, making progress.

I don’t need to do any of that to feel better, because feeling better is intrinsic to our nature. It is only the conditions we set upon it that keep us from naturally feeling better.

So when I ask whether I deserve to enjoy life, I think the question must be flawed, because feeling better is unconditional and enjoying life is something that flows naturally from feeling better.

If I can naturally feel better simply by not placing any conditions on it, then what is the relevance of desert? Why do I have to deserve to feel better, in addition to simply being able to feel better?

It’s actually exciting to know that enjoying life will flow naturally from feeling better, which in turn flows naturally from not placing conditions on it.

And feeling excited about life is a very good place to be!