A MUST watch for all you fellow ‘happiness addicts’ – this guy is as clued up as he is fun and entertaining. Sheer genius!!
“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
“What we resist, persists.”
-Carl Gustav Jung
Have you ever seen a fly at the window? The fly wants to escape; to get out. It can see what is on the other side of the glass. It wants to experience what is on the other side of the glass. Yet, the glass keeps it apart from what it wants to experience. The fly takes action. The fly works hard. The fly works non-stop. Yet, the fly remains trapped. The harder it works, the more desperate it becomes. The more desperate it becomes, the harder it works… all the while growing weaker. Some die at the window. They die of exhaustion. They die from trying. Ironically, they die from persevering.
Some flies are lucky. They escape. They try something new… they try flying to a new place and looking for a way out and then another and another, until at last, they are free!
Observing these flies often makes me think about how we as people sometimes go about our lives. We might sometimes find ourselves in difficult situations… times when we feel pain or discomfort. We are used to giving all of our energy to fighting against it. Like the fly at the window we struggle and fight and are left feeling exhausted – often without making any real progress. We are lucky. The price we pay is exhaustion (but if we keep this up, it can lead to stress and ultimately to ‘dis-ease’). Yet we still pay a price: our present moment is robbed of happiness and it its place we have stress, struggle, and fear.
We want change. That is a good thing. But there are some things we might do well to remember if we are to fare better than the fly at the window:
- Sometimes, change may not happen overnight and we need to learn to be ok with that. It serves us to honour the process rather than try to force results.
- Sometimes, things will sort themselves out on their own and we just need to get out of the way (I see this happen with parenting and relationships a lot).
- We value perseverance, yet sometimes we need to pause and take time out to find clarity (I once read that perseverance can get you killed – if you keep persevering even when the path you are on leads you to the edge of a cliff). Perseverance only serves us when it is applied from a place of clarity. Taking time out to find that clarity is not only an act of self-love, but it also makes us more effective as problem-solvers!
- Above all else, we need to stop seeing these things as ‘problems’ and reacting to them in that way. This is the true lesson we can take from the fly at the window. We can’t afford to fall into a repetitive pattern of stimulus and response. As Einstein said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It doesn’t mean we give up wanting a change for the better. It means we stop giving all our energy and attention to judging and condemning the ‘problem’ and struggling against it. Instead we can choose to stay calm and create the mental atmosphere that allows the solution to emerge. When we move out of the ‘problem mindset’ and from seeing things as they are, we allow ourselves to enter the ‘solution mindset’ and seeing things as they could be. But this requires that we change our focus and often, we need to let go for this to happen.
- Last, but not least, we can change our orientation altogether and see the ‘problem’ in a new light – as something that is not a problem. Let me explain: I sometimes used to wake up around 3 a.m for no apparent reason. It used to bug me and I would try very hard to get back to sleep. Most of the time, all the trying in the world didn’t make it happen and a good 3 or so hours after, I would start my day feeling tired (more from the struggle than a lack of sleep) and irritated. What a way to start the day!? Then, (fortunately) I heard a talk by Dr. Wayne Dyer where he said how he would find himself waking up around 3 a.m. some mornings and how he felt that it was a cue from God / Source for him to write. He went on to say that this was a time of day where he felt very connected to God / Source, which made it easier for him to write well. So here was a man in his 70′s who, when he found himself waking up at an un-Godly hour, chose instead to say that it was God waking him up so he could write! Talk about re-framing a situation! So when I started viewing my early morning starts in this way, it made me feel a whole lot better. At best, I would get lots of quiet ‘me’ time to write and enjoy. At worst, I would be a bit groggy for part of the day… but it sure beat feeling irritated and miserable throughout the day. It hardly ever happens now, but when it does, it works in my favour! Incidentally, it is Dr. Dyer who famously said: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change” and this is a great example of how he applies this idea in his day to day life.
So there you have it… the recipe for a problem-free, stress-free life… in just 2 easy steps: 1) stop labelling things as ‘problems’ and 2) when you are faced with a situation that bugs you, go take a nap or do something fun!
“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”
- Rev. Martin Niemöller
I was much saddened to hear of the events that had taken place in Aluthgama recently.
Just like me, you too might be shocked and wondering how such a thing could have happened – especially after all that Sri Lanka has been through in the last 30 years.
My heart goes out to the people who have been affected by these acts of cruelty and to the families of those who have lost their lives.
Placing myself in the shoes of the Sri Lankans who have recently lost their loved ones, their homes and their property, I can only imagine that they are feeling shocked, saddened and betrayed – betrayed by the people they considered their brethren; betrayed by the institutions that they looked to and trusted to provide them with security and protection. Their sense of trust in their fellow Sri Lankans would be all but evaporated, along with any hopes they may have had of being treated fairly in the land of their birth.
I for one would not blame any one of these Sri Lankans for also feeling anger – intense, searing anger… anger at the loss; and anger at the betrayal. No one wants to feel helpless and no one wants their loved ones to ever come to harm. I dread to think how this anger might come to manifest itself.
Friends, while anger might seem natural and justified, I know from personal experience that it is not helpful. Anger never provides a lasting solution. Anger makes us do things we later regret. Anger makes us all suffer in the end.
Love on the other hand, always provides a lasting solution. Love always brings with it the gift of peace.
I am not asking you to love the people that carried out these cruel acts. I am not asking you to love the people who stood by and let it happen. It would be wonderful if you could feel love and compassion for these people too, but I know I couldn’t – at least not right now. And I can’t ask you to do something that I am not willing to do.
No, I am asking you to love the people who have been at the receiving end of this thuggery. I am asking you to do whatever you can to let these people know that they are loved. They need to understand that not all people want to treat them in this way. They need to understand that their tragedy and their suffering is also felt by their fellow country men. They need to be able to trust their fellow countrymen again.
We cannot wait on the authorities. We cannot wait on foreign governments or NGOs. In the end, as human beings, we are the ones who must assume responsibility for each other (this, incidentally, is also the best way to change the world…) and to do it ourselves.
Please go there in your numbers. Go there in peace. Let them know how you feel. Do what you can to help. Maybe take some things that might come in useful to them – some clothes and some food items. Perhaps you can make a collection from amongst friends and neighbours and hand it to the local mosque officials to be used as they see fit. If you are unable or unwilling to make the journey, then write a letter. Do something. Do anything. These Sri Lankans need to know you care.
There is no doubt that what has happened is a huge tragedy. We can choose to simply mourn this tragedy and leave it at that or, we could use it as an opportunity to re-write history.
It is all in your hands dear friends. You have the opportunity and the power to write history; to do something future generations will thank you for.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Marianne Williamson
“Now I know what success is: living your truth, sharing it.”
- Kamal Ravikant
When I was growing up, I was raised in an environment where everyone around me adopted a certain belief system. School, religion, social norms, and the media all encouraged a certain view of life, ‘reality’ and of ourselves.
As children, adolescents and young adults, we were cast in moulds and expected to conform.
Yet, all the while, I somehow felt ‘different’. I think it is something that we all go through in life, even if many of us don’t actually talk about it.
I did my best to fit in and play along… but did a dismal job of it for the most part. And much of my childhood and early teen years were spent in isolation – through choice. I preferred the worlds I discovered within my books to ‘real’ life.
Then, in my late teens, I felt like life was passing me by, and so I decided to play the game. I bought into the belief system and invested my time, my effort and myself in it. As I got older, I became more and more like the person I was expected to be… and slowly began attracting the perception and trappings of ‘success’.
In retrospect, it seems as if the period from my late teens into my mid-thirties was spent living some cookie-cutter version of life – based on conformity and narrow possibilities. I still made the choices and was seen to be in control of my life and who I was, but those choices were like voting-choices at elections – you get to choose from options that have already been prepared for you – vote for Party A or for Party B. If neither of them fit your beliefs, then tough – just be grateful that you get to vote!
Then, thankfully, my life fell apart.
Having moved to the UK and having settled into what seemed an ideal life – being married to the girl of my dreams, setting up our own home together and establishing a small but thriving legal practice, something happened. I wanted to make sense of life and so I started asking questions that no self-respecting conformist would. And I wasn’t liking the answers.
I won’t go into detail about these things in this post, but you can read a little more about what happened here: My Story.
It is sufficient to say that I no longer wanted the cookie-cutter life and I was waking up to who I really was – The slightly ‘grown-up’ version of the child who lived to read; the person who believed in the magic and mystery of life; the person who dreamed of love, peace, happiness and abundance for all people; the person who wanted to spend his days doing what he loved; the person who just wanted to laugh and play. Needless to say, this didn’t fit in well with the life that I had carved out for myself and so changes had to be made. It was scary and I did get some grief for it, but it was totally worth it!
So what have I learned from it all? And what does ‘living your truth’ mean to me? It means that your life on the outside fully reflects and is congruent with how you feel on the inside (note – not how you think but how you feel on the inside).
The truth of who you are doesn’t mean the circumstances into which you were born, or even where you find yourself now.
The truth of who you are is where you feel called to go. It is what you want to become. This may be something that changes and evolves as you grow, but only you can know this and no one else should decide on it for you.
You are the only person who truly knows who you really are.
I have found through my own experience that it is better to be who I really am and be alone than to be surrounded by a thousand people who approve of what they think I should be. You can choose who to be around and when to be around them, but you can never get away from yourself. So I feel it is better to be happy and at peace with myself, rather than compromise that for the sake of acceptance and approval from others.
For some of us, living our truth means making big changes in life. It might seem scary. The good news is that the fear is definitely worth the sense of freedom and satisfaction that become yours if you are willing to face that fear.
Life always takes care of us and in the end, the fear becomes more about the opinions and reactions of others than about anything of real consequence – or so it has been in my experience.
In the end, it is easier if you don’t expect others to understand your life choices or to approve of them. Many won’t be able to appreciate your perspective and to be fair, they can’t – because they have not lived your life. Some people may be willing to see past what have now become your ‘differences’ and respect your decisions. Some will simply fall away and there is nothing for it but to thank them for the part they have played in your life up to that point and release them with love.
There is a silver lining to all of this – in my humble opinion it is more like a big blooming silver cloud – there will be new people who fully understand and embrace the you that you have become. They will love you for who you are (It is likely that they have been on similar journeys themselves).
Whatever happens with others, the inescapable fact is that the truth of who you really are is where your true power and happiness lie.
And something I have just begun to realise is that living your truth is not only a case of changing your life on the outside to fit who you feel you are on the inside. That might seem like where the bulk of the ‘work’ is to be done – but the biggest changes are the ones that you make from within… the changes where you go beyond your conditioned beliefs and catch up with the real, authentic child of God (or Source or Universe) that you are. For example, I strongly feel that the ‘real’ me is someone who is loving and compassionate and accepting of all… that the real ‘me’ is capable of practising unconditional love for others… but I still get mad at people, I still raise my voice in anger and say hurtful things… yet, I feel that this is not the real ‘me’ but patterns of thought and behaviour that I have chosen to adopt and identify with. I know this to be true, because I always feel bad when I hurt other people and I always feel good when I am loving towards them. So for me, there is much more work to be done and that is a good thing – I have more ‘becoming’ to look forward to : )
I use the term ‘work’ to describe the process, but it has actually been the most rewarding, satisfying and liberating of all the endeavours I have ever undertaken.
As for success… it has come to mean happiness now more than anything else. But I couldn’t end this post without making it absolutely clear that living your truth in no way means giving up on your dreams and ambitions. Quite the opposite – I now have bigger and outrageously more ambitious dreams than ever before! And the really great thing is that I feel like they are practically a done deal, because now everything hinges on me and how I feel. No one else is in control. No system. No other judge or critic. Nothing. Only I can do the best job of being the real, true me and there is a huge feeling of power that comes from knowing that.
I encourage you now to go home to your truth and live from there.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
- Lao Tzu
We all have dreams and desires. We all have goals and ambitions. And we all have things we just need to get done. Before we know it, we are all really busy, rushing from task to task from day to day. When this becomes our way of life, there is little or no time for self-love. There is no time for appreciation. And there is no time for happiness. All of these things get pushed into the future… to ‘someday’ – a day which for most of us will never come. Meanwhile, our day to day reality is full of struggle and we stumble on exhausted. Does this sound familiar to you? If it doesn’t then count yourself lucky. Yet for many, including myself in the past, this may be a fact of life.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Before I opened up my mind to the possibilities of trusting and letting go, I felt like life was a struggle and that I had to do all the work to get what I wanted. Every once in a while, when I had something good happen without struggle and effort – some great and unimagined success (like landing my dream job or meeting the girl of my dreams), I would just think of it as a case of ‘good luck’.
I am not so sure about ‘luck’ anymore.
The big shift happened when I started to believe that we create our life experiences – and our luck both good or bad, through our thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is another way of saying that our inner world creates our outer world and our experience of it – something I have touched on earlier in this series.
When I started to think in this way, it then helped me to be open to the idea that there could be other factors at play in bringing about my life events. I became willing to consider that there may be other unseen, yet powerful forces at play, which would aid and assist me in life. It was no longer a case of having to rely on my own two hands and my finite (logical, thinking) mind to accomplish everything. There was a Power I could learn to work with and rely on.
I wont claim to know Who or What this Power is. But I do know that my belief in this power is slowly beginning to grow.
Some people believe in God. Some others believe in The Universe and Source. I believe that all of these names and labels represent the same Power. And I know that the more I can learn to work with this power, the more powerful I become as the creator of my own life experience.
The more I believe in this Power, the more I can trust It. The more I can trust, the more I can let go of trying and struggling.
I no longer believe that life is all about struggle, trying and exhaustion. I no longer accept that this is the only way to go. I am only just beginning to learn about all of this but I am slowly moving away from the mindset of hardship and struggle towards one of ease and living from a place of power. I don’t have to do all the hard work anymore.
I don’t expect anyone to simply take my word about any of this. In the end, each of us has a unique path in life and will need to base our life’s truth on what we have lived and learned. Yet, I am aware through my own experience of the comfort and strength a person can derive from a willingness to consider that there is a loving, benevolent God or a kindly Universe that that is constantly tending to us and helping us on our way to all the things we have envisioned for ourselves. I can’t help but wish that more people would experience this sense of comfort and relief.
Countless writers and teachers have helped me get to this point and I am most grateful to them for the guidance they have provided me. If you were curious and wanted to explore this subject, I would heartily recommend ‘Conversations with God’ by Neale Donald Walsch (a three-part series – I have read Book 1 and I am now reading Book 2) and ‘Ask and It Is Given’ by Esther and Jerry Hicks. There are countless other books and other material which will help you on your way and you will be led to the ones that are most suited to you, if you open yourself up to it.
Although it is not my job to convince you of anything, I can and will offer some information which might help you make your mind up about these things. While admitting that our scientific understanding of a great many things is lacking to say the least, I invite you to consider the following facts:
As the diagram below indicates, our human eyes can only see a very tiny fraction of all there is to see (that tiny band from which the illustrator has enlarged the rainbow-coloured visible spectrum). And yet, we insist on saying “I’ll believe it when I see it!?” How much of ‘reality’ is unseen by us and thus overlooked? Can we afford to base our understanding on this minute fraction of all there is to see?
You can read more about the electromagnetic spectrum and ‘visible light’ here (NASA).
As the pie-chart below indicates, about 96% of the known Universe is said to be comprised of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ – for ‘dark’ here read ‘we don’t know a heck of a lot about any of this’. So, a lot of what we humans know about and directly experience with our senses is confined to only 4.6% of all there is to know about and experience. And we know so little about that 4.6%!!! Yet, we are ready to dismiss out of hand, anything that our scientific knowledge cannot measure or prove. Why? Is that a smart thing to do?
You can read more about dark matter and energy here (NASA).
And even when it comes to our human bodies, we know so little. Apparently, we don’t really know what around 97% of our DNA does or is there for (this is the so-called ‘junk DNA’)!! And yet we are so certain about what we and others can or can’t do!!
I am definitely not a scientist and I am unable to say with any authority that the above ‘facts’ are 100% accurate. But the point I am trying to make here is that we don’t really know a lot about anything. And our science and 5 senses can’t really help us out a lot at the moment.
Just because we can’t see it or measure it and just because we don’t know a heck of a lot about it or what it is for, doesn’t mean we can discount it. We are not being smart if we do this.
On the other hand, if we could admit to how little we actually do know then we can keep an open mind without discounting and ignoring things we can’t fully comprehend. When we are willing to do this, we pave the way for learning to trust in the unseen. And, when we can learn to trust, we can learn to let go. When we can learn to let go, we can stop struggling to get things done and let things BE done. We will then be free to enjoy the present moment and be happy.
Letting things be done means you still take action, but there is balance. There is no sense of desperation and of thrashing about. You act from a place of clarity and feeling good. You take it easy and give it time to take form. You enjoy the process. You also let go of needing to control every single detail and outcome.
When you learn to do this, things can even turn out better than you imagined them. I know this from personal experience. It’s simply a case of learning to balance being and doing, so you don’t burn yourself out or get frustrated and discouraged.
It is also a case of getting out of your own way at times.
Learning to trust and let go is one of the most important gifts we can give to ourselves. I invite you to try it. But I must caution you, because when you trust and let go, ‘good luck’ and ‘miracles’ begin to happen. So watch out!