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Where happiness really comes from & why it matters

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happiness

 

No one who is truly happy is an asshole.

Many people appear to be full of joy, until something goes “wrong”.  The restaurant has a 20 minute wait.  Suddenly their demeanor changes.  They argue with the host and complain to other waiting customers.  Or they spend the 20 minutes in silent frowning distress until they are sat.  Only then do they allow themselves to try to regain their happy attitude, but often discover it is difficult, and they blame the restaurant.

This is how it usually happens when we’re relying on external circumstances to fuel our mood.  It often can work and feels great, until something doesn’t go according to plan, and then you are suddenly left in the cold to either begin to fuel your own good mood, or give it away to the power of something outside yourself.

True happiness is inner happiness; it is self-sustaining and doesn’t rely on anything or anyone to supply it.  When you have inner happiness, you are kinder, have more energy, are healthier, more creative, and much more resilient. You are able to give so much more to the world and other people.

This doesn’t mean that unforeseen complications won’t be an annoyance, but the person with inner happiness deals with life’s difficulties with much more ease.  You are able to spend more moments in the range of joy rather than stress.

But relying on external happiness is much more common because it’s so easy.  We just react to what is around us — easy!  We’ve been doing it since we were kids.  If we feel unhappy, we blame someone or something else.  It’s easy, we never have to take responsibility.

Inner happiness is an easy concept to understand but takes much more effort to allow.  Especially in these times we are so over-stimulated by the outside that we’ve forgotten how to get back to that internal fuel.  It’s there — it’s always been there and always will be; it just takes work to uncover it and allow it to be while we move through the world.

Both sources have been in full effect since we were kids, but now as adults we have the capacity to choose which one we want to use more.

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Taking a closer look at internal & external helps us realize which one we’re relying on more at the moment.   There’s nothing inherently wrong with either mode of happiness, it’s just very important to know the difference and the need for a balance between the two:

External Happiness is reliant on something outside of yourself to be a certain way:
Weekend trip going perfectly.  Partner acting the way you want.  Enough money in the bank.  Friends remembering your birthday.  Going to Disneyland.  Getting liked & acknowledged.  Having a good hair day.  Getting the role you wanted.  Your team winning.

Often feels like: indulgent fun, a thrill, an escape, excitement, elation, smug satisfaction, justified manipulation

Relying only on he external will never secure happiness.

If you’ve been wondering why life feels like a ride of immense peaks and valleys, it’s because you’re looking mostly to the external to determine your mood.

I’ve gone through dark times where I’ve tried to control the outside to feel how I wanted on the inside.  Ironically this preoccupation with control made me feel so out-of-control and neurotic, because I saw that I could never control anything outside of myself.  Ever.  I would be frustrated over how I could be so elated one moment, then so pissed off the next — it was because I was willingly putting my emotions out there for the world to mold for me; I was shunning all responsibility and choosing to be powerless.

We were teenagers and my boyfriend could hardly manage his own emotions, so why was I relying on him for sustaining mine?  I became mean and manipulative. It took much drama and heartbreak for me to realize the futility of this, and through my regret I began my search to learn how to fuel my own feelings.

When you’re relying too much on needing the right conditions to be happy, it’s like being empty inside and continually trying to vacuum in all that you think you need to fill you up and create that sense of joy and well-being, but it’s never enough.  You’ll be walking a shaky bridge that could run out of flooring at any moment.  It takes a lot of energy and robs you of enjoying life.

It is an enormous waste of time and effort, and is inherently doomed for failure because we don’t live in a perfect world.

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Internal Happiness comes from the inside and isn’t reliant on anything outside:
Feeling proud about what you’ve accomplished.  Enjoying an activity.  Appreciating what you have in life.  Loving someone as they are.  The thrill of the freedom of making a personal decision.  Knowing that you’re pursuing your dream.  Feeling good about yourself.

Often feels like: unconditional love, unconditional fun, self respect & care, curiosity, intrigue, playfulness, joy, openness

Relying on the internal is the only genuine, surefire way.

It’s how we felt at our core as little children.  It feels like good energy that comes up from inside and allows us to be and act in the world as a whole person, not someone searching for stuff from everyone else.  It is always there and can always be tapped into.  It feels like love and worthiness, joy and excitement of life itself.  Dare I tout that it’s all natural and organic?

When I’m able to get into this mode, the world feels like an amazing, interesting place, even with all it’s problems.  I feel open to whatever is happening at the moment, and I feel like I have so much to give out to others, regardless of how they receive it.  It’s not so much about spreading rainbows of joy as it is about just being open and happily allowing whatever comes up.  And being intrigued by it, as a little child is with everything.  It feels playful.  It feels slightly scary at first, yet surprisingly natural.

One of the amazing benefits of this is that a lot of things I wish I could improve, like judging people less and accepting the moment, automatically happened when I get into this mode.

And I didn’t lose my ambition or desire for change, like I had originally feared.  I was loving the moment while working towards something even better, and that was a feeling that was unlike any other externally-induced excitement.  I saw that the power for change was completely housed within myself — I lost all desire for even the most subtle manipulation or approval-seeking. It felt so free.  I felt like I could give more of myself to the world than ever before.
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Mix internal and external together and you’ll have an amazing time.  But the external always has some kind of deadline of let down or disappearing.  The internal can come from the inside-out no matter what the circumstance.

I like to view it as having a sure back-up.  If the external fails to provide, I always know I can rely on my internal to fuel me through the moment.

Inner happiness makes you:

–Kinder to others, you can give so much more.

–More energy to focus on better things

–Looking for the good in life means you notice more good and starts multiplying

–Keeps you much more supple and resilient; you bounce back quicker.

–Open to more friends & opportunities

–Attract others like you

–Healthier, less stress!

–More creative, less blocks & fear

–Not needy.  Instead independent, empowered, in love with what is already here.

–The more happy moments you have, the more of a happy life you will have.

If you think about it, this true happiness is all we really want.  Everything we do has behind it, the motivation to feel a little better.  We can see that one can have too much power or too much money, but never too much happiness.

Happiness is really all we want.  It is the base of our life pursuit.  It was written into the Declaration of Independence. 

It always boggled my mind that if this is our ultimate life desire, why aren’t we focusing on achieving it in a way that is self-sustaining?  Why are we always trying to reach for the things that can be easily taken from us?

It appears to be more fun and easy to reach for the glittery stuff, but to spend an entire lifetime chasing after it and then discovering that it doesn’t hold everything you were hoping for is a wasted life.

But you can do both.  You can reach for the fun stuff while dedicating your life to practicing the inner stuff.

Realizing the difference between these things is easy to see, but is quite complicated when trying to figure out how to make a balanced shift.

This is just the basic foundation of something I have dedicated myself to studying and have been actively practicing this in my daily life. I know so many of you are also on this journey, and I will be writing about this much more in depth and sharing my findings in the upcoming posts.

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Scary TV and Happy focus

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There was a marathon of Forensic Files on and I couldn’t stop watching. Probably 5-6 episodes. It was around 5am when I forced myself to turn off the TV and turn over in bed to confront my brand new paranoia that someone was going to break in through the sliding door, or was hiding in the room and watching me. There was a heavy darkness that wasn’t there just hours before. I began to question if I really truly knew the psychology of friends, neighbors…the man I slept beside, and even myself.  Who can be trusted? Are we ever safe?  I began to think very darkly of the world.

But I knew it was all in my mind and I was layering dark filters over reality.

I was lying in fluffy a warm bed at a 4-star Disney resort hotel. The sun was probably coming up soon.  There was a manicured lawn outside lined with pink flowers.  I was at Disney World, mentally cowering. Why?  Nothing felt awful before I watched TV.

The mind goes places and takes me with it. It’s ok, everything is ok. Just tame it. Just calm it down, take it back down to reality, remove those dark lenses. Look at what’s here. Here’s a moment. Here’s another moment. Here’s some light peaking through the curtains, shining off the silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head on the base of the lamp.

Watching scary things are an amazing example of how the mind can color our reality and steal joy from otherwise perfectly fine moments.  If these things — which we know are just contained within a screen — have the power to steer our minds so much in one direction, it’s no wonder that we are so easily influenced by things that happen to us in real life.

Someone yells at me from a car as I’m trying to cross the street, and suddenly for hours after, the world seems like it’s full of rude people and I feel dismayed.  But it’s still the same day I was having earlier, when all seemed well and right.

Put it into a beautiful practice.  Mind where I put my focus.

Just a dude making a noise in a car. Just someone passing through my day.

Just a show about stuff gone wrong.  Just a story with images.

Look at what’s in front of me, physically here.  Is there anything truly wrong at this moment?  

Nope…I’m fine.

What is good at this exact moment?

My keyboard glows a pretty purple backlit hue.  The heater is on and I am warm.  I have a bottle of water.

Breathe into the moment and feel what’s good about this second, and then the next.

Take it moment by moment and find what’s already just fine.

Everything is just passing before us.

I can’t control what will happen, but I can practice minding my focus.  Each happy moment is just a practice of focusing.  It’s making a choice of where to put my mind.  If my life’s purpose is to be happy and live in hope, that’s a clear focus to choose.

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The genius of the right way

There is no right way.

There are just ways that happened to work — for the most part — for a lot of people.   There are ways that are promoted by people who have a  large following.  There are statistics showing that a lot of people who do a certain something, obtain a particular outcome.

A lot of people may flourish in a formal education setting, but maybe formality happens to be what holds you back.

A lot of people may need around 10,000 hours to become really good at something, while with your skill-set you may need 15,000…or 500.

A lot of performers get a particular education and move to a particular city to do their craft, but that doesn’t mean you need to do the same to be just as fulfilled.

A lot of addicts never manage to get their lives together, but a lot of them really do… in a huge way.

Just because 6 days a week for 4 years, plus several retreats in India worked for internet-famous yoga teachers, doesn’t mean that that’s exactly what you need to reach your desired level of fitness.

We all have things in common, but we have so many things that are NOT in common with “a lot” of people.

The world doesn’t make that much sense!  If only it made that much sense and held that much order.

We don’t even all want the same things for the same reasons, learn in the same way, act out of from the same inspiration, or live for the same goals!

We are way too complex creatures for such things.

Listening to recommended ways-that-work for a lot of people is smart.  But developing our own custom methodology and applying personalized adjustments to those paths is the genius behind it all.

 

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Probing our perception of others

Imagine if a famous director, a best-selling author, your hardest teacher, and a highly-regarded critic, got abducted by aliens wielding giant anal-probes.

The aliens strip them all naked and attach ID numbers to their rear-ends.

Then the probing begins.  They note the height, weight, and general health of each subject, and then the statistics that the probing procures.

They’re then carted away and stored in numerical order amidst a vast bio-library for future reference.

I wish I had some some witty social-political-toilet joke as a finale in here, but that’s not the point.

The point is that if you take someone out of their natural environment, they lose all context.  In another land, their accolades, titles, education, and physical embellishments mean nothing.  They’re just another curious foreign being flailing around making funny noises.

No matter what kind of prestige (or lack thereof) one might have, their words and sense of stature are not really real.  They have as much impact on us as we allow them to, and if we agree with that version of reality.

In our reality, their judgements of us could either mean the decisive voice of a demigod, or just funny noises.

It’s all in our perception.

We have a choice how deep we want to go.

What to do when there’s nothing you can do

When problems are way beyond my scale.

When I feel helpless and without control.

When there’s no obvious, effective answer:

The only way to properly pay respects to lives lost, or lives in peril, is to fully appreciate my own.  Instead of feeling guilt for having while others are lacking, instead appreciate fully.

Not the fluffy & blingy, but the essential.

The things that would immediately go missed whilst taking the last breaths of life.

That hug.  That smell. That familiar life-long voice on the phone.  My limbs and senses and the ever-changing smoggy sky.  Breakfast.  Second breakfast.  Going to work in relative peace.  Tea.  Everyday luxuries.

To ignore and trivialize these things would be to miss the point of terror.
Where I am and as who I am… I can only do so much as far as truly “fighting” back.
But not allowing that terror to invade my own life, until it physically may, is my own personal little war against it.

I have no control over the world.  But I have full control over my world.
To realize the moments, the minutes…to recognize that every second that I have is one that someone else no longer has, is tragedy.  Yet to use that as a cause for despair within my personal, otherwise unmarred life would be even more tragic.

The point is to use my grief as a starkly star-lit realization of the things I’ve always known but never wanted to face.
We are mortal.  Shit happens out of nowhere.  Life is chaos and doesn’t adhere to reason or fairness.

BUT.
This brings me back to reality.  What really matters.
Using tragedy as awareness and appreciation and getting lost in the bittersweet-savory-salty-picante-delicious present reality… regardless… is the true, good, fight.

And whatever may come will find me spending my unknowing last moments in appreciation and joy and questionably appropriate humor.
And I could die at peace.

So until then…

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Building the Monastery

Sacred:

  • reverently dedicated to a purpose.
  • regarded with reverence.

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Sometime recently this blog turned 3.  And I’ve been MIA this whole month.

But I’ve been more present than ever in Life.

I’ve been building things, creating beauty for myself from things regarded as worthless.

It’s not about money.  It’s not about possessions.  It’s not about impressions.

These things do matter…but only as far as they do to myself.

How does my money, possessions, surroundings, feel to me?  Myself?

Do I like the impression that I give MYSELF?

I was wrong by trying to fulfill everyone else’s expectations.  Doing it their way, for them, in thinking that I will get what I want out of it. It’s manipulative.

I want my surroundings to be for me.

I used to decorate with other people’s perceptions in mind.  I’ve gone through party-scene, romantic, wannabe-elegant, artsy-lofty….  They each provided a piece of the feeling I was going for, but never fully fulfilling what I needed for myself.

The purpose now is for my space to offer me peace, happiness, and ultimately a place to flourish and grow and create.  A cocoon.  A safe place of free flowing thought and aesthetic.

Do not underestimate your cocoon, your pupation station, your sacred spot dedicated to your own personal purpose.

Build it with attention to detail for what works for you, not impressions to the world.

4 months ago I was beginning to fancy goals such as Balenciaga purses and Range Rovers.

They are beautiful, but for what?  If they were invisible to the rest of the world would I still honestly want them as much?

Same with everything I keep in my space.

I’m aiming to impress myself.  Just me.

What would that look like?

 

 

 

Constant Reminders & Imperfect Circles

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I am always intrigued by tattoos with a philosophy — something that a person has chosen to embed permanently upon themselves as a constant reminder of what they strive towards.

Epicurus taught that although we may know what we believe in, it’s easy to forget and lose sight of our true priorities amidst the pressures and chaos of life.  His remedy for this was having constant reminders.  A dedicated follower one famously etched Epicurus’ teachings onto a wall in the middle of a plaza as a giant red reminder that true happiness is found within us, not in material wealth.

A similar modern practice is placing symbols around the home as unavoidable reminders of one’s religious devotion… or who one should root for on game day.

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I don’t have any tattoos, and at this point in my life I doubt I ever will.  I just can’t commit, and while I love them on other people I quite like my raw canvas of blank skin.

Instead I’ve always found ways to non-invasively remind myself of a particular philosophy I was eager to practice.

As a teenager I strung a tiny snowflake charm around my neck to remind me of Iceland (I was enamored with Bjork’s unique creative philosophy).  I’ve kept tiny notebooks as little bibles full of quotes & pictures that I would refer to throughout the day to inspire me and get my focus back on track.  Music playlists were also extremely helpful.

My recent interest has been in imperfect circles.

They show how much beauty there is in the unexpected, the incomplete, the naturally occurring.  The raw Enso circle in Zen philosophy represents the moment the mind is free to let the body create.

Plus they often magically appear under frequented cups of caffeine or wine… pretty coool.IMG_1709

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