Practicing happiness 09

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.

Letting go: hyper vigilance

I’m envious of my wife because she can lose herself completely in a book or game or movie to the point where I’d have to shout her name if I need her attention.

I’d love to forget where I am, forget what’s going on. Because in the Abraham-Hicks teaching, our focus on continuity in our experience is an obstacle to change.

What this means is that if we keep focusing on “what is” we reinforce it in our thoughts and feelings, whether we like it or not.

We might believe in theory that life is full of possibilities, that nothing is impossible for God, and that miraculous things can happen at any moment…but then we keep one eye on our circumstances with the expectation that nothing will really change.

A watched pot never boils, and you have to wonder what motivates the watching.

For me it is definitely anxiety related. Hyper vigilance to our surroundings is a basic survival strategy. Paying close attention to what is going on around us gives a sense of preparedness and control.

I don’t just hear sounds, I create a mental model of the thing behind the sound. When the bus rumbles by I “see” it in my mind’s eye. When my wife coughs in bed I “see” that too, and my mind turns to whether she might be sick and will that effect our plans for the day. When my daughter bangs her milk bottle on the high-chair my mind sees the possibilities of spilt-milk, or her needing a refill.

To me it feels like I’m expanding my conscious mind to fill the space I’m in. But that space is defined by all the things in it, the circumstances around me, and my expectations of what might unfold and how it involves me.

That’s why I always struggled with meditation. I’d try to quiet my mind but it was still full of the whole world around me. I’d try to empty my mind but I didn’t know I’d already made it so big.

Really letting go would feel like shrinking my mind back to just me. Really letting go would feel like ignoring everything, in the deepest sense of not knowing, which is where “ignore” comes from.

The benefits are twofold: first, the effort to keep my awareness so big is exhausting and provokes anxiety and control. Second, letting go of things, no longer keeping track of them, allows things to change in unexpected and refreshing ways. Miracles can’t happen when you’re fixated on what is.

And it’s just sad being always aware of what’s going on around you. When you start letting go you allow yourself to be surprised by life. Even the small surprise of realising your coffee cup is still half-full of coffee!

Letting go means I can hear a sound and let it be just a sound, let the sounds that reach my ears be like ripples in a pond, let myself be unknowing of what is, and allow what is to surprise me!