Friday, March 23, 2012
Recently I came face to face with the realization that all I hope for isn't always all that I receive. It occurred to me that in my ever long pursuit of happiness, I set up the parameters in which the happiness needed to exist. If I met those goals, I was happy. Simple enough.
But more often I did not see my precise hopes realized the way I envisioned, and unhappiness, frustration, even resentment followed. This very human response is what the Buddha described when he opined "All unhappiness stems from unfavorable comparison." In short, the grass is always greener on the other side of the street.
As I often do after a pitfall, I began to deconstruct my thinking around my frustration - how did I get to this point? why? what factors contributed to my disappointment and resentment? As I've written about in previous passages, blaming outside situations for my frustration is easy, but it's not the whole story - I needed to see how my own reactions to life caused my unhappiness.
And then one day I realized... it's not the reaction that causes my pitfall, it's the hope. In other words it's not the 'unfavorable comparison' that was getting me down, it was the hope that if I tried harder this time, the situation that frustrated me might change.
But as Wayne Dyer says, "When you change the way you look at something, that something will change."
I've seen this happen with my own family members. I tried for years to get them to see what I saw - take on what I had taken on - think the way I thought. They wouldn't. The hope that someday they might discover the truths that I had (the truths that set me free) kept me trying so hard to get them to change. And when they didn't, I found myself frustrated, hurt and lost. Again.
What I decided to do was change the way I hoped for an outcome. I had trained myself to visualize the exact thing I was looking for, focus on it, and therefore manifest it. Now I created a new paradigm of manifestation where being committed to happiness, rather than seeking it specifically or in certain situations or from certain people, was the goal.
Happiness as a journey companion - not a destination, squeezed by constraints, timelines, or 'must haves.' It changed my life and more importantly, my relationships.
Here are 3 ways you can revisit hope and discover that happiness lives throughout your life, not only around the corner or someday:
1. Choose the bad. Life is a roller coaster, you've got your ups and downs, and you never stay too long in either. If you choose the down times as powerfully as you choose the ups, you'll come to accept your WHOLE life, and not just the good times (which make up only a percentage of your whole time here on Earth.)
2. Choose the good. When you do have a windfall, fall in love, get a job or a raise, or just plain have a great day, choose that moment powerfully with the knowledge that the feeling is wonderful but fleeting. Live in the moment, revel in it, and put it in your emotional bank for the down times - you'll need to remind yourself of those good times when the tough times come around.
3. Trade hope for 'being with what is so.' This can be a tough thing to do. But I want you to pick one situation in your life that despite your best efforts will not change - a situation which has caused you frustration, resentment, or pain. Now... let it go. Stop trying to change it. Stop hoping that it will change. Most likely after all this time, it won't. Then get yourself a huge ice cream and celebrate your freedom from the shackles of your attachment - and the commitment you resolve to take on as you work on you, and you alone.
After banging my head against the wall with my dear family member, trying to make her see what I see, I realized that she doesn't want to, or simply cannot, see what I want her to see. She isn't me and I am not her, and no matter how hard I try, this will not change. But what can change - and indeed has changed - is my hope that it will. I have released myself from my own prison and am free to love her as she is, and myself for who I am as well. I'm grateful for this lesson, and hope (yes I said HOPE!) it inspires you as well.
Be your best,