Practicing happiness 04

When you feel like crap “just feel better” is the most unhelpful-sounding advice. After all, there are reasons why you feel bad right now, it’s not simply a choice, right?

Well that’s true: it’s not simply a choice; it’s also a practiced habit. That’s why feeling bad comes easier than feeling better, at first.

As I’m learning about attachment theory, I can see how feeling better is like a child turning to his or her parent or caregiver for security, comfort, reassurance and affection.

Perhaps the sense that feeling better is trivial or not enough is related to our attachment style? If we never learned to find genuine security and comfort with a parent or caregiver then we implicitly never learned to value simply feeling better when we feel bad.

Bitter self-reliance

For me the inability to find reliable security and comfort in my attachments led to a kind of resignation towards suffering, and self-reliance in seeking to avoid future suffering.

That’s why “feel better” seems insufficient to me…I never learned how. Ingrained in my childhood was more of a “endure until it goes away” approach to suffering, followed by an intense search for deeper answers that promised to help me “overcome” suffering forever.

And that pattern has helped shape my life. Alongside my perennial search for “answers”, I’ve done my best to avoid suffering as much as possible while also silently enduring whatever conditions I consider unavoidable.

Securely feeling better

That’s why feeling better is ultimately such a powerful thing to learn and practice especially when I feel like it’s “not enough”.

Every moment of intentionally feeling better is retraining my mind and body into a completely new pattern capable of maintaining equilibrium and balance.

Imagine what a difference that makes, to go from an attitude where suffering is inevitable (and can only be overcome through extreme effort) to one where suffering can be quickly and effectively neutralised and soothed, and the opposite – genuine good feeling – can be developed and grow.

That’s why those moments where I feel bad, and feeling better seems insufficient, are the most valuable moments to practice.

Count Your Blessings Day 8

My little girl has now soothed herself to sleep three nights in a row plus two day time naps!

I cannot fully express how much relief this brings me!

Never again will I have to rock and bounce her til she falls asleep!

Never again will I fight exhaustion to get her to stop crying!

This is so amazing. This is a miracle! And I owe it all to changing my focus from the burden of “getting her to sleep” to the love and appreciation of “helping her self-soothe to sleep”.

This is life-changing. When I look back on this Happiness series, I look forward to appreciating all over again how a year of sleep-deprivation and struggle so easily gave way to our 1yo learning to fall asleep all by herself.

And all it took was for me to be so exhausted I had no choice but to allow things to improve.

Yep. It was my own resistance. I was so set on being diligent and “in control”. I wanted it to be easy, but found it easier to put in effort than to actually focus on feeling better.

This is profound.

Rocking her to sleep I felt good that I could make things easier. But it was the relief of managing an unwanted situation, not the relief of moving towards a wanted one.

The truth is that I spent a lot of my past focusing on the unwanted and trying to escape it. I didn’t put much effort into defining what I did want.

The positive aspect is that I had great faith everything would work out. I would find the one answer that would fix everything.

But I kept fixating on the problems rather than the solutions. I kept picking at the question and all the evidence of unwanted things in my life. I kept reminding myself of why I wanted to escape, rather than looking at where I was escaping to.

In other words I was trying to manage all the unwanted things in life rather than moving toward the wanted.

Managing the unwanted implies acceptance of it, keeping it alive even while trying not to suffer from it.

Focusing on the wanted is like entering a totally different reality. Changing “I don’t want to go!” into “I want to go there.”

It’s a melancholic thing to not really know what you want. But it just takes us a little longer to make our minds up, work out what is possible, and finally resolve to push beyond that!

Our feelings don’t recognise limitations or impossibilities. It just takes us a little while to accept the truth and power of those feelings!

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”.