Friday, August 21, 2009

If you're happy and you know it...

Everyday I get a little newsletter called "PhilosophersNotes" via email. The author of the newsletter has read HEAPS AND HEAPS of books on personal and spiritual development and prepared little "cliffs notes" style summaries. He has a subscription you can pay for, but I just get the mini (free) daily newsletter, so every single day I get these little blips of wisdom. Sometimes I pay more attention than others. Today, this one came up:

“Of course, we don’t love painful feelings like anxiety or depression. We don’t have to love or even like them, but we do have to accept them, as difficult as that can seem at times. Emotions, no matter how painful they are, are not the problem. The problem is dropping out of school or work, putting your family or duties of life on hold until such time as you can work out your emotional issues. Would you rather feel depressed while sitting alone in your room trying to figure it all out or feel depressed while getting your house cleaned or your project completed? (You may still feel depressed, but you have a cleaner house.)
The heart of accepting your emotions (and, as you’ve seen, of reclaiming your will) is to do what you need to do despite what you are feeling. Accept and learn from your feelings, but don’t let them run your life. By remaining productive during difficult emotional episodes, you are more likely to improve your emotional state than if you do nothing but ruminate and wait for sunny skies.”
~ Dan Millman from Everyday Enlightenment

Dan’s big on viewing our emotions like clouds passing by. Just as we can’t control the weather, we can’t (directly) control our emotions. When we can accept whatever emotion we’re experiencing and then DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, we enter a different level of being.

As Dan says, “The most constructive way to influence your emotions is to do something.”

So, you feelin’ a little funky? Alright. It is what it is. Now, ask yourself, “Self, what needs to be done?” (Make sure you address yourself as “Self”--very important part of the process. :)

Then... JUST DO IT.

[attention worried parents reading this: I am not at this moment feeling particularly "funky."]

I also happen to be reading at this time a book called "Happy at Last" by Richard O'Connor. (sidebar: how awesome is the public library? I love to just stroll thru and pick up any random book that catches my eye.). Borrowing from
In Happy at Last, psychotherapist Richard O’Connor offers new thinking about how we attain and maintain happiness, and he shows us that it doesn’t necessarily have to come at a high cost or in a big package. Rather, we can be in command of our happiness by learning to control how our minds work so that we can identify and savor the hidden positive aspects of everyday life. To do this, O’Connor provides us with a set of skills that will help us re-wire our brains to allow ourselves more joy.
I am only a couple of chapters in, but the first two are pretty amazing, drawing on all these studies that show how the greater the wealth of the country, the more likely the people are to be miserable. How the Industrial Revolution put the "societal evolution" of man into warp speed, with no real hope of developing a suitable coping mechanism for a completely new way of life. I am not really good at explaining stuff.... just trust me, read it.

So what's all this about? To quote Abraham Lincoln, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." So, consider my mind made up!

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