Happiness Day 24

How much do you invest in your problems?

When your body doesn’t feel good, what do you pay more attention to: the 1% that hurts or the 99% that feels fine?

I used to let a mouth ulcer rule my world.

A sore throat was the end of life as we knew it.

Its actually funny right now how many physical symptoms are cycling around my body.

My throat started to hurt but I basically ignored it (I’ve come so far!) and resisted the urge to keep triggering the soreness.

It went away! But other symptoms have arisen. I won’t give a litany, but let’s just say pain has moved from my abdomen to my mouth to my eye to my knee to my back, sometimes a few of them at once.

I’m not worried. While it does show I have some resistance, the answer to resistance is never to fight it.

The Yi Jing has a beautiful passage on this:

“If evil is branded, it thinks of weapons, and if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose in the end because thus we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion.

Therefore it is important to begin at home, to be on guard in our own persons against the faults we have branded. In this way, finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil becomes dulled.

For the same reasons we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them, they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.”

So by taking these pains lightly I’m already soothing the resistance that causes them. In fact I think I’m learning from the pain in a way, because it gives me a direct feedback on how relaxed and soothed I’m feeling in the moment.

This is a big step forward from my previous efforts to overcome my autoimmune pain, which were, in hindsight, as intense and focused as the pain itself.

It turns out I can soothe the pain just by relaxing and feeling good. I don’t have to dig to the bottom of it (there isn’t one) and I don’t have to track down the specific resistance and neutralise it.

Besides, according to Abraham-Hicks it takes far less resistance to keep symptoms going once they have started. Because once they start they tend to grab our attention and become self-perpetuating.

As for me, I remain amused by these sneaky pains moving around my body and trying to be taken seriously. Meanwhile, I can more easily set them aside while I ask “what is the good in which I would make progress?”

Count Your Blessings Day 6

Yesterday brought me some good contrast in the form of physical pain and sheer exhaustion.

But those feelings helped me to let go of my resistance and the end result was that our 1yo soothed herself to sleep for the first time!

And let’s be honest, the resistance to that happening was all mine. I’m the one who’s talked so much about sleep being a problem. I’m the one who built it up in my mind until only sheer debilitating light-headed exhaustion could change my approach.

The experience of contrast has reminded me that I want to feel really good. With all the progress I’ve been making I nonetheless want to keep building momentum.

And to that end I feel for the first time that reaching for really wonderful feelings is unnecessary and kind of a strain.

From where I am right now it’s counterproductive to try to feel exhilaration and joy. It’s actually far more comfortable just to feel satisfied and content.

Abraham has reiterated many times that the best place to be is “satisfied with what is and eager for more” so I’m pleased that this is now making sense to me.

I’m guessing that satisfaction is a more stable and balanced and consistent place to be. In fact I’ve heard that the higher feelings can suggest we are reaching for thoughts that are a bit beyond us.

After all, having a new car or a new house might feel exhilarating at first, but we should soon catch up to it and just feel satisfied or appreciation. There’s something a little unbalanced about being exhilarated all the time.

Happiness Day 22

Path of least resistance.

A couple of people have asked me if the Abraham-Hicks teachings are a form of prosperity theology.

I went looking for an answer, but in practice it appears that “prosperity theology” is just very very dumb.

I can’t do a nuanced comparison of the two teachings because prosperity theology doesn’t appear to have nuance.

The Abraham-Hicks teachings do have nuance. And one area of nuance is that we are sometimes led into circumstances we do not want, as the quickest path to what we do want.

The path of least resistance

In Christian terms this is depicted as God allowing us to suffer and face obstacles so that we turn towards Him and depend on His help.

Abraham encourages us to always take the path of least resistance to aligning with our inner being or Source (God) but sometimes the path of least resistance still has quite a bit of resistance in it.

Last night I was extremely tired and aching all over after training that morning.

I didn’t feel as though the weariness was caused by my resistance necessarily.

By evening I was alone trying to rock our 1yo daughter to sleep as usual, but such was my exhaustion I just couldn’t do it.

Yet through this experience I was forced to find better feeling thoughts about her sleep routine – something that has been distressing us all for almost a year.

And in those better feeling thoughts the solution presented itself. Well, I had no alternative but to feel better and let her learn to self-soothe, and it actually worked!

I’ve heard similar stories of people being pushed into circumstances that force them to find alignment and release their resistance.

The circumstances are in that sense a reflection of our own resistance, but at the same time there’s a slightly different quality to it.

The feeling is of genuine confusion, because “I was doing so well!”

Likewise our physical health can change as our vibration changes; not always in “positive” ways.

Sometimes the path forward looks like it is going back.

And in this way the Abraham-Hicks teachings invite us to appreciate the good in everything, the wanted aspect of all our circumstances, even ones that look bad or feel bad.

I don’t think prosperity theology does that, but I know regular theology does, and calls it “providence”.

Happiness Challenge Day 7

If you had the ability to teleport yourself to a beautiful deserted island in the blink of an eye, how often would you go there?

Would you go there all the time? Would you want to live there? Or would your normal life pull you away from this magical paradise?

We have the equivalent power to go to a feeling place that is just as much a beautiful paradise.

But we don’t.

Ironically, I think we are afraid of missing out.

When we look at our friends and family, our work, our communities, and our own projects and struggles, we simply cannot reconcile these things with an immediate experience of unconditional happiness.

We have grown up learning that life is not perfect, and feeling joy and love and well-being is the reward for accomplishing things.

If we were overflowing with well-being we would no longer fit our old lives.

So instead we inhibit the flow of well-being in our lives. With varying degrees of severity and intention we restrict how good we can feel.

We limit ourselves to the amount of good feeling we can “earn” or justify based on our circumstances.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact it only is this way because of our resistance to the well-being that otherwise seeps into every fibre of our existence.

That’s where I’m at on day seven of my Happiness Challenge. I’m learning to view overflowing well-being as natural, and therefore inevitable if I just stop whatever it is I’m doing to resist it.

To feel as good as possible

Focus on the word “contentment” and feel it. It might take a few seconds to really embrace the good feeling of contentment.

If you can feel contentment you can then go to a better feeling:

Appreciation

Love

Freedom

Joy

Contentment is easier and more stable, and good enough if you’re not used to feeling good.

Appreciation is also very good because we have less resistance and fewer preconceptions about it than love, joy, and freedom.

But whatever feels best to you.

Resistance

You might feel some resistance to feeling good. A bit like you’re reluctant to relax or let your guard down.

Keep focusing. The whole point is to feel the relief of letting go and allowing these good feelings.

You might also have resistance in the form of thoughts that dissuade you from the task.

But hopefully the exercise is general enough and simple enough that other thoughts don’t really have a foothold.

If they do, try to soothe the thoughts gently.

Eg. “I suck at this kind of thing” well it’s okay to suck at it. It’s just an experiment, right? I’m giving it a go, and maybe it’ll be interesting. It’d be nice to have this trick up my sleeve to feel content whenever I want to.

“This is pointless” Actually the point is to feel better and I’d like to do that more, and if I can feel better just by focusing on the feeling I want to feel then that would be worth practicing I think.

“This won’t change anything” It will give me the ability to find relief and feel better, and if nothing else were to change wouldn’t it be better to feel good rather than feel bad?

Do it all the time…eventually

My goal is to feel genuine appreciation all the time.

Feeling appreciation makes me a better person – the person I think I’m meant to be. I’m happier, more creative, much nicer to be with! People have commented on how much happier I am.

It makes my life better. I’ve already seen how feeling appreciation can transform my day from a monotony of worries and burdens to a light and easy adventure.

And the only thing I need to do is practice feeling appreciation.

From general to specific

With credit to the Abraham Hicks material, I’ve found that practicing a general feeling of appreciation eventually translates spontaneously into specific appreciation for things in life.

It’s a bit like suddenly coming into a whole heap of money and thinking “wow I’m rich!” And then after a while being inspired to spend your money in specific, good-feeling ways that enhance the feeling of well-being and prosperity.

So the more time I spend feeling appreciation, the more I will continue to notice wonderful things to appreciate in my life.

This is how feeling good really does change your life, because in consistently feeling good you are naturally drawn to entirely different aspects of your present experience and hence to a different future experience altogether.

Attuning to God’s presence

God transcends everything, yet God is also present within and through everything.

We can attune ourselves to God’s presence in us and in the world around us.

Whatever can be said of this tuning into God’s presence does not do justice to it.

But in every religion, mystics have tried to communicate it and express it, even while knowing it cannot be contained in a single expression.

Hence, “the way that can be spoken is not the eternal way”.

The aim of every mystic is to go deeper and more surely into this presence, toward a union that promises the complete fulfillment of the soul.

But in every form of mysticism it is acknowledged that the real work is already accomplished…it is only our resistance, our delusions, our misapprehensions that must be let go.

Resistance

When Peter walked on water, it was only his doubt and fear as the waves grew higher that made him sink.

Doubt and fear have no substantial existence, they are like optical illusions, misapprehensions. But the point is not to try to “see through” them, the point is to look elsewhere.

“Perfect love casts out all fear”, but we can’t hold onto our fears, continue breathing life into them, and expect love to come along and erase them.

Loving God with your whole heart means to stop entertaining fears and doubts, and ultimately this requires a choice or a decision to let go of them and focus only on love.

Tuning into God’s presence means letting go of anything less than God. So long as we are focused on God’s presence, so long as we actually feel it, we can’t entertain anything contradictory.

A motive of love and happiness is always compatible with God’s presence, but a motive of fear and doubt is not. Our everyday lives are run through with these two motives…we can eat, speak, act, and move from a motive of love or a motive of fear.

External acts can appear similar, but the difference between awareness of God’s presence and obliviousness is like the difference between happiness and depression.

When I first studied mysticism, I interpreted it through my own lens of struggle and unhappiness and saw it as demanding austerity and sacrifice as the price for overcoming all suffering.

But this interpretation merely reflected my own resistance, fear and doubt, back at me.

The simple answer is that happiness lies in one direction and suffering in the other. Suffering doesn’t need to be “overcome” it just needs to be replaced with happiness. And the source and culmination of all happiness is found in God’s presence.

That doesn’t mean we need to go around stifling and sabotaging all other forms or expressions of happiness. It doesn’t mean we have to heighten the contrast between suffering and happiness.

It’s enough to just stop refreshing the suffering and misery and all thoughts and beliefs that fuel it.

If perfect love casts out all fear, trust that in tuning into God’s presence there is no need for doubt and fear anymore.

The importance of looking within

It’s easy to feel resentment when others don’t do their fair share around the house or in the workplace.

And it seems like a big enough task to work through or with that resentment and anger, trying to find a path forward that restores a sense of fairness and balance.

But it’s completely the wrong approach.

We can look to overcome resentment through a course of action, demanding that others change. But the likelihood is that unless we change our perspective, our outlook, and our emotional point of focus, we’ll end up finding or creating a new situation based in resentment or something similar.

Flawed premises

I was raised believing that there are a number of unpleasant tasks in life that just have to get done, and no one really wants to do them.

The best approach to these tasks is to get them out of the way, so you can enjoy your remaining leisure-time unencumbered by worry, or the looming demands of these unwanted but necessary burdens.

But from a positive-thinking perspective, there’s no such thing as a task or situation that is entirely negative. Moreover, there’s no such thing as a persistent number of unpleasant tasks that are so intrinsically unpleasant that one cannot help but get pulled out of alignment when performing them.

For me these beliefs are the basis of resentment towards others who don’t “pull their weight”. I resent them, because their apparent laziness means I’m the one left to complete these unpleasant tasks.

So rather than trying to work out how to overcome my resentment or work cooperatively to share these burdens, my negative feeling is actually a clue or sign that my beliefs are off.

The resentment isn’t really about other people not pulling their weight. That’s just another manifestation of it.

The real resentment is in me, resenting these supposed “necessary but intrinsically unpleasant tasks”.

Knowing what you do want

In this instance I’ve been suffering under a false premise. There is no such thing as a task that is both necessary and so intrinsically unpleasant that I can’t find alignment in it.

What I want therefore is not a fairer share of these nonexistent duties; what I want is to be able to find alignment no matter what the circumstances.

I don’t actually want people around me to change – and if they had changed the way I thought I wanted, they would only have come on board with my own flawed perspective!

That wouldn’t actually have helped me and certainly wouldn’t have helped them.

The irony is that the people I resented probably have a happier attitude to life in these important aspects that I struggle with. Their frustrating behaviour has been exactly the trigger I needed to let go of my own resistance.