Jul2017: Where Does Happiness Live?

by Brad on June 30, 2017

“Everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything.”– Michael Singer, in The Untethered Soul

For 30 years of my adult life, I lived society’s “conventional wisdom” – work hard, know a lot, avoid mistakes, make a lot of money, stay busy, get things right, care what others think, be successful, avoid pain, be nice … and many more. Frankly, it was exhausting. Worse, it didn’t create the promised happiness. So much for “wisdom,” I thought.

The exhaustion created a wakeup call, and 10 years ago I did something new: self-reflection. I realized happiness is a felt experience that lives inside me, not “out there” where I’d been taught to look. Happiness, therefore, is personal to me; one size doesn’t fit all. It also must have to do with choices I make, not dependent on my outer world. I did some deep inquiry into what being happy would truly look like – for me! I came up with this: (1) daily quiet time in nature; (2) a simple, peaceful living environment; (3) the rhythm of my day designed around work I love, energy that was already in me. I then chose to make these true each day. I felt free, inspired, empowered, resilient … all at the same time.

But it wasn’t that easy. All the old lessons were still in my head. And now they were yelling at me. It was here that I “got” the idea about having voices in my head. You know, the voices you don’t think you have, but if you were to ever stop long enough to listen, they’d drive you nuts. Those voices. The ones that say you aren’t good, lucky, successful, deserving or loveable enough. The ones that say doing anything risky would expose you to mistakes. The ones you listen to, yet don’t know you listen to. The ones you obey as if they were true. The ones you believe are who you really are. Those voices. We all have these voices; mine were creating anxiety, despite my doing and being what mattered most to me. I was listening to them, and I couldn’t stop them. And … they were talking me out of being happy!!

Then I found Michael Singer’s book (see below). The mind can do some amazing things, he said, but instead, we’re using it to manage the drama created by the voices in our heads. The voices will always be talking; things change when you decide not to listen to them anymore. His prescription: simply notice them. He suggested two positive outcomes: (1) if you’re noticing the voices, then they can’t be you; (2) as you get to know them, you no longer identify with them, so you can choose to ignore them. (You can’t do this when you think the voices are you.)

Doing this depends upon a regular practice of quiet self-reflection, getting to know the voices objectively. This kind of refection asks for more depth than most people are willing to tolerate, which is probably why so few experience peace and happiness. With practice, I got to know my voices. I named them, and kept track of their words: the judge (you’re wrong), victim (nothing good can happen to you), child (you can’t make me), saboteur (what makes you think you’re good enough?), hedonist (just have fun), and poet (create!). The better I got at noticing, the less they owned me. They are all still there, yapping away. I just don’t listen (as much). Awareness alone gave me a new choice – to ignore them.

Exercise: In several sessions of quiet reflection, discover what happiness would look like, for you. Play the ideas out in your mind until your mental model inspires you. (Taking action is easy once the energy of your vision draws you.) If your definition of happiness depends on cooperation from others, life, or world, you probably won’t feel inspired. Go deep inside yourself instead. Then clear your mind of its drama, by becoming a student of the voices in your head. Get to know their messages and how you react to them. Notice yourself release them. See Singer’s book for more.

Life lessons from nature: Nothing lasts forever – mountains, rivers, trees, bears – all come and go. What is sustained is the process of creative expression from which everything manifests. Think about this: no judgment about the results, yet they are a majestic beyond our comprehension. Perhaps nature creates just for the happiness in doing it.

Book of the month The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer. In a simple, yet elegant way, this book opens the door to freeing the mind of its constant, negative, life-limiting chatter, offering practical explanations as well as suggestions for letting go completely of the unconscious-but-committed belief in the insanity of the mind’s drama. I love this book! And if you’re on Cape Cod, you’ll find this book at the Market Street Bookshop in Mashpee Commons; 508-539-6985.

 

Download July 2017 pdf

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Elaine M Johnson EMAIL July 1, 2017 at 10:29 am

Thanks Brad,

I love that book. Time to revisit. I always loved the idea that that chattering voice is my roommate_HA, always there but, as you said, it’s up to me to decide what to listen to.

Hope you are well. Fondly, Elaine.

Nicki LeMarbre July 1, 2017 at 11:10 am

THANK YOU Brad for recommending this amazing book to me! I love it!!! Definitely on my top ten list already!!

Donna July 3, 2017 at 7:34 am

Thanks Brad will check it out! I recently read and recommend “The Mindful Path to Self Compassion’ which also helps to look at how our thinking affects our lives.

kim allsup July 13, 2017 at 7:52 pm

This is true wisdom. I like the idea of naming those voices. These voices are mostly judging voices. How can we gently move our culture away from so much judgment?
This thought is inspired: “Perhaps nature creates just for the happiness in doing it.” When we get to the place of pure happiness in co-creating each moment with nature and others, we will find the meaning we are all looking for.

Dale Boch July 15, 2017 at 7:32 am

The untethered soul is truly a life game changing for the brave one who is willing to look at his or her self in the reality of the moment.

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