Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician with experience working with adults, couples, families, adolescents and older children since 1976. His aim ...Read More
Withdraw Attention, Interest and Feeding Unhappy Thoughts, and Natural Happiness Arises and Blossoms
This is true joy of life-the being used for a purpose that is recognized by yourself as a mighty one, instead of being a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
—George Bernard Shaw
Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.
People often seem rather preoccupied with being happy. Just look at how often the media highlight some new research on the subject, you read an article on how to be happy in life, your marriage and family, and friends commenting or reporting on their state of happiness. Actually, it is only minds or egos that seem so concerned about whether you are happy or not, and how they stack up to how happy or unhappy others are. Like with the news, people appear comforted when others have it worse off then they do. Abraham Lincoln knew all this in the above quote that points to the “mind to be” being the critical factor in how happy most people are. Make up your mind to be miserably unhappy, or make up your mind to be joyously happy, either way you’re program it and be it! It all must be an inside job.
A great number of people apparently have given up on happiness in this life over a learned or conditioned mentality of scarcity, sacrifice or resignation. There are traditions, whether cultural, ethnic or familial, that pass on attitudes and roles regarding happiness. The attitude to push away and denigrate happiness as a form of selfishness, self-preoccupation and uncaring for others is prevalent for many. The roles of victim, sacrificer and martyr are not uncommon around the world. Since happiness is so elusive for lots of people, some folks simply find it easier and more expedient to place their focus on their daily travails and challenges. Why bother with some pie-in-the-sky happiness that is not in the cards anyways?
Then again there are people of all ages, especially in the West, who feel entitled to be happy and further have enlisted or “signed up” other people with the job or protocol to devote themselves to making them happy. Where do you begin to deconstruct this program? Did anyone commit to “make” you happy in the first place, and is that even possible in the second place? Are you or anyone entitled to be happy, according to the universe? Or, is it that the universe actually is indifferent to whether you are happy or not, and so long as you are being used for a mighty purpose or dream of contribution bigger than yourself, then is the whole subject of happiness irrelevant? Life goes on unaffected and unconcerned with your life conditions, requirements or desires. In other words, when you are where you belong, doing what you are here to do, and with the people you are here to do it with, isn’t happiness missing the point and purely a wonderful by-product of a well-lived life you are drawn and beckoned to live? In fact, the most miserable, complaining folks I’ve known seem to aim directly for so-called happiness, such as thrill-seekers, drug-users and high-flying impulsive hedonists, and typically keep ending up in suffering. You could say that expecting and aiming directly for heaven is precisely what hell is all about.
The core question in regard to unhappiness is this: who is unhappy? It’s a great question to ask, particularly if your mind thinks a great deal about whether you are happy or not and compares your level of happiness to others. Drawing upon your experience so far in this life, who most regularly is chronically unhappy, disgruntled, displeased, dissatisfied, unfulfilled and acts like a miscreant and curmudgeon? We all know now, don’t we? It’s plainly obvious that the source of all this negative judgmentalism, misguided skepticism and sarcastic cynicism is our very own mind or ego acting as a separate false self or who you think you are. In this one function the ego-mind usually is not acting as our friend, is unpleasable and creates a no-win game out of our lives. This is not a pretty picture at all.
Observe human beings, existing in not being very conscious, tending to follow the ego-mind’s attachments and taking positions about being happy, especially expecting, desiring and needing happiness. Further notice that this pattern almost invariably leads to unhappiness. Then how do you woo, invite and welcome happiness into your life, closest relationships and everyone you meet? This is especially relevant given a growing consensus that life’s meaning and happiness is to be found in caring social relationships. Since so much of our emotional, cognitive and psychological experience has its origin in the ego-mind’s thoughts, especially critical judgmental ones associated with unhappiness, what if you withdrew all attention, interest and feeding the negative ones? Wouldn’t you almost immediately feel better and uplifted? It is a lot like golf-it’s not how many great shots you make; it’s actually how few poor ones. Take fewer poor shots by refusing to give attention, interest and feeding to negative, judgmental or comparative thoughts about unhappiness, and room opens up for the new to come forth.
Knowing that the ego-mind is ever playing inside of all polarities, when you take away the option of feeding unhappiness, don’t be one bit surprised to find it then desiring happiness. In fact, this move is completely predictable. What if you made nothing of this other end of the polarity of happy and unhappy? You can simply and kindly watch your mind with its latest move to ensnare you into its less-than-honest web of control over your life and, if anything, just laugh at its latest stratagem since it really doesn’t mean anything about you or your true life. Just be with it without any resistance or position, judgment or complaint or taking anything personally, and it will dissolve in silence. With you having no interest in its fictive existence and latest ploy, what else can it do? Free the polarities of happy and unhappy, and you are free of the mind and its hijinks. It naturally disappears since it never really existed.
Building upon this, what if you enter into this remarkably rich present moment and stand back to watch, observe and witness the ego-mind itself? At this juncture, prepare yourself to be jettisoned into an awareness of an incredible array of fearful defenses, critical thoughts and comparisons as well as random idiocies, shenanigans and machinations the ego-mind almost constantly makes up or dreams up. The really fabulous opening in receptively opening up this awareness revolves around the realization that none of this can be who you actually are! If you are able to see all of this, how can any of this actually be your True Self or Original Nature? This recognition acts like a watershed moment or clearing into which Original Sanity reawakens inside of your experience of presence and witnessing. Seeing through the ego’s dream world of past memories, future expectations and all conceptualizations, all that is untrue and cannot be real can now be gratefully surrendered and ever-more forgotten. As all you cannot be is seen and effortlessly dissolves, you wean yourself from giving it any energy, attention, interest, activity or feeding it in any manner. Now who you truly are can arise and begin to blossom.
The True Self is always here, only hidden in a smokescreen or blocked out of sight by our past conditioning being projected into an unknown and non-existent future, all courtesy of our minds. What always was and is, still is; what never was or is, still isn’t. What was never real or true, never existed in the first place. What is real and true, cannot be lost. These truths in reality are worth ever remembering. The metaphor of the sun always shinning, even if it is obscured by stormy clouds or happens to be shinning on the other side of the planet at that very moment, informs and points to our Authentic Self being ever-present, available and accessible when we consciously shed all ego-driven distractions that seemingly cloud our awareness of who we truly are. Precisely when we unveil, reveal and re-discover what was true and real in being who we truly are, then natural happiness gushes forth as one authentic expression of our True Self. Recognize, release and fully surrender all the conceptualizations you never were and cannot be, opening space within consciousness for your Self, and natural happiness follows.