I have heard many times from people I know that they just can’t be happy. The line I have been given most often is ‘If only ____ would change’ or ‘I hate my life. How can I be happy when everything sucks?’
These, forgive me for speaking so bluntly, are excuses. There is only one thing barring any of us from being happy, and that is ourselves. Everything else is only an excuse, and only ever will be. There are many ways to arrive at your own happiness, and countless more to make it, but if ever a person blames a place, an action, another person, or anything other than themselves for their unhappiness, they are only lying to themselves. All emotions and reactions start with you, and ultimately that means they can only end with you. This sounds a lot harsher and colder than it really is, but please be patient as I explain this:
Now mind you, this is not a truth everyone is ready to hear or accept, and that is perfectly fine. All paths lead home, so no worries there. For some people, the idea of taking blame themselves, or admitting that they are the ultimate cause of their own unhappiness or actions and reactions, is just too large of a leap at present. After all, to accept this reality is to accept that there is truly nobody else to blame for your actions and state of mind aside from yourself. That is a tough pill to swallow! Believe me, I know!
I don’t want anyone reading this and thinking ‘sure you can say that. You must not have ever experienced anything significantly traumatic, painful, or unfair.’ The truth is, this is the opposite. In fact, I have experienced my share of horrific things, and been treated poorly by people I thought I should be able to trust. I was miserable, and blamed everyone around me for it, but this only made me feel worse. It was time for a change, because I could not bear the idea that I was never truly happy. Here is what I did:
First, I came to the understanding that if I wanted to be happy and content, I was going to have to make it myself. It would not be handed to me, or given to me via chemical cocktails. Fake it until you make it, if you will. This was my stepping stone to the practice I have learned to adapt to my life now. When I felt down, I would smile and laugh, and do something to distract the thoughts. It worked to a degree, but always fell apart.
That made me want to give up as it seemed a failure, but I was not willing to continue to suffer. I decided to start taking time each day, first thing in the morning, then again before bed, to evaluate my mind, my day, and my mood. In doing this I could analyze my own patterns, the events of the day, and my own reactions to everything that happened. This started to show me some patterns I had, and that was rather ugly to look at. That being said, honesty and frankness are very much required for this.
I began listing my reactions and the triggers, then looked at what my part was in the situation. It always ended the same – it all boiled down to me. I was the one reacting and holding onto grudges and hate. The more I did this, the more I started to see why. Something would happen that felt like an attack against me, and whether it was intentionally so or not, it was me who blew up and refused to move past the issue after it had passed. I even reacted adversely to injustices I would see in the world, and it further rooted my hate for humanity as a whole. That was the first thing I knew had to go.
I started inventorying every reaction, thought, and feeling that floated across my mind. This was very tiring, but was also the only way I knew I could learn to change my behaviors and emotions. I started getting better and better at realizing when I was taking things to offense for no reason, and stopped my behavior, apologizing immediately and stating what I had done wrong. This was not easy, and it used to annoy me to do so. However, the more I did this, the easier it became. My mind started to retrain to process faster when I was overreacting, and even more when a feeling or emotion was a passing glitch. Not all of my feelings were triggered by anything, but rather were stray intrusive thoughts and energies. This made it easier to break it down to an unfounded, illogical reaction to nothing, and dismiss it quicker. I found that my anger, rage, depression, distrust, fear, and misery were all my creations, and as such, within my realm to dismiss.
Allow me add this now, as I know it will be misinterpreted by some; I would have misinterpreted it myself if I heard this from someone else before: This method does not get rid of emotion, reactions, or anything of the like. It helps you see patterns, and detect when you are slipping, and allows you to correct it before it gets out of hand. It helps you find your peace, center, and/or happiness, and keep it in spite of unfavorable events or people. This does not make you perfect, and as such you should never punish yourself for mistakes, or for not properly executing your practice.
A situation, person, action, or any other external force can be the catalyst to your feelings and thoughts, but it is always your choice how you process these experiences. No person or action is ever capable of making a person do or hold onto something in any manner. You are allowed to feel, and you will always do that. As such, reactions and mistakes are perfectly natural and normal, but if a person holds onto the painful, offensive, or any other action or energy, that is always their choice – conscious or subconscious – it is always your choice to continue to suffer.
There will be times where you just want to feel the emotions, or where you have to just emote all over the place – logical or otherwise. This is perfectly fine! You did not fail, you are not a fuck up, and you are not doing anything wrong. This method is just to help you find your center again, even after you fall to pieces. It helps you to find your role in everything that happens in and around your life. It helps you take responsibility for your life, mind, spirit, and reactions, and thus learn to behave more balanced and harmoniously with yourself and your world around you.
In no way is this to shame people who are intense, emotive, or reactive, but this is just a guideline for those who are tired of feeling stuck in their own emotional prisons. This is for those who want to seek the Truth, not their own renditions of what ‘truth’ is. Remember, truths are relative – they are always variant from person to person, belief to belief, and that is fine. This is just designed to help you learn to simply be and observe the world and its experiences, without judging, condemning, or getting bogged down in it.
Once you master your mind, your emotions, you can then learn how to step back and view any incident and experience from an external observer view – you can more easily see everything, both amazing and atrocious, from both sides of the fence. It affords a certain degree of freedom and understanding, though it may do little to dispel your disappointments in decisions, and even less in halting your compassions and empathies for those suffering. This is designed to help you grow and learn, and to understand and empathize with everyone and everything that dwells here with you, not stop you from feeling in general. You may find yourself fall back into old patterns on occasion, but you will also find that it gets easier and easier to see yourself falter, and to correct it when you are ready to.
This is my method – to understand myself, my mind, my emotions, and how I relate to my environment, and better control and manage my way of being and interacting with it. It helps me to balance myself, and in doing so, allows me to then go and separate the emotional and egotistical components from anything I choose to study. This lets me unbiasedly examine myself and every corner of my mentality, and then fix the problems I find. As such, I can apply those principles and practices to my studies of people, the environment, and the creatures I share this world with. It is a new freedom and compassion that I never thought I was capable of.
You are not required to agree with me, you may even think this is ridiculous, but this has been an amazing journey for me personally, and I simply wish to share it with any who are interested. As always, you are free to come to me with any questions or comments, but leave the unnecessary hate at the door.