Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Your day is going great. In fact, you have a had a string of great days. You feel happy, content and mostly worry free. You feel like you can take on the world.
Something bad happens. Out of the blue. You can't believe it. You tell yourself that " this always happens". "Why can't I be happy all the time?" "Why can't things work out for me?" That's not you saying that. That's your ego. The mask that makes you "think" happiness and contentment is based upon external factors. It has ruled your life and you really haven't known it.
We are all expected to be "happy". People ask us: Are you happy?
Many times we lie because we don't want to bring down a room or a person'a cheer disposition. We trade honesty for lies because we don't want any trouble.
Realistically, we don't want to be uncomfortable and certainly don't want that uncomfortablity to affect how people see us in the long run. When we ask how someone is doing, we are not prepared nor authentic to what we are actually asking. We say it out of convenience, habit and for the sake of initiating surface conversations taught to us by "society".
Happiness becomes an inauthentic mask used to not fully feel our "passing" emotions. We may feel sad around a group of friends, but don't want to talk about it. We may feel angry at a partner, but simply close ourselves off without expressing our anger with honesty and integrity. The seeking of happiness will only lead you away from yourself and prohibit you from growing as an individual.
Why do people get so involved and curious with the general moods of others? Why are so many concerned about your illusory state of "happiness"?
It stems from insecurity. We like to project and are sometimes unconscious of how we interact with others. We want others to feel well in order to validate our own state of existence. This can be toxic. We shouldn't hold our emotions and peace on hold for the interest and states of other people. We can project our own happiness by being with what is. Being present with all chemical reactions that are happening within us. Being conscious with our actions.
Maybe abandoning the interest in happiness will help us see and surrender us to the dynamic ebb and flow of life. The yin and yang. We can appreciate happiness when we can appreciate sadness. We can let ourselves truly feel our emotions for what they are. Passing clouds that act as teachers and allow us to look deeper within ourselves. Forcing happiness is an attachment to a fleeting concept that will only lead to more suffering.
Have you noticed that happiness naturally arises when you have no interest in trying to be happy?
Happiness becomes a byproduct of being present.
Happiness could be the first bite into a sweet donut.
The embrace of an old friend.
The flowering of a dandelion.
The inner reflects the outer.
When we focus on truly understanding ourselves, our interest in the general disposition of others will fade. You will remain compassionate and embrace the humanness of each individual. You will allow for space. Allow for uncertainty and growth. The push and pull. The concave and convex.
If we are striving to be happy all the time, we will turn into the cardboard cutout versions of our ill perceived selves. No depth. Flimsy. Easy to see as fake.
Relax with each emotion. Observe and recognize. Let it breathe and do not identify. Let it pass and be patient.
Flowers grow from sh*t.
You're not really here.
Sure, you exist in a 24 hour period running errands and completing tasks, but you are not really here. Right now. Right now in every moment.
Your head is swimming in thoughts.
Worries. Compulsions. Judgments.
Criticisms. Imagination. Ideas. Etc.
There is nothing wrong with it, but surely you leave no space for the present. No space to witness the mind doing all these things. You simply follow the mind. You let it be your master. You let it run your days in your life.
You're in traffic driving your car, thinking about what to get at the grocery store. You get agitated by the heat and the amount of traffic. You realize you forgot to pay your gas bill on time. A surge of discomfort and anxiety rushes up and down your body. Your whole physiology has changed. Now the simple task of going to the grocery has become more stressful.
Then a friend texts you wanting to hang out. You respond and quickly forget what you needed to get next at the grocery store. Classic you. You look around and see a catchy packaged bag of sweets. You can splurge. You can give it a try.
Later you find out that you forgot an important thing on your grocery list. You're almost home so there's no turning around. You feel sad and angry all at the same time. The rest of your day seems to go down hill.
Out of all of these tasks we do in the day, we weren't present for all of them. We stumbled, juggled and multitasked to the best of our abilities, but left little to no room for presence and stillness. You were physically executing all these tasks. You were mentally there. You just weren't mindful of everything going on. You hopped into and identifed with every passing emotion. You rushed from point a to point b. You never took the time to look inward to reasses and recenter.
You were there, but not ALL there.
You weren't in totality with each event. When you were picking out apples, you were briefly glancing over them while worrying what other fruits fit into your budget. You weren't totally aware.
You were trapped in your own mind. You were going through the motions without witnessing the emotions. You never focused in your breath. Breathing in the stress and releasing the stress. Where were you exactly?
You were of the mind.
You were there, but not really there.
You were buried. Maybe you didn't even know it. You were unconscious. Maybe even as you read this, it will trigger a memory of you not totally "there". So you may have not been here for this whole reading. You let imagination sweep you and take your attention. You let thoughts and worries take the driver's seat. Hopefully by now all you are doing while you are reading this is "reading this."
Surrender to the unseen.
Surrender to the uncertainty of being with your doing.
Instead of filling your days with doing, try focusing on filling your days with being.
It's not hard.
Just like everything is easy when you break it down step by step.
It's all easy, relaxed and mindful steps.
Our minds create the drama.
Our minds create the anxiety.
Our minds perpetuate the same habitual cycles we have been comfortably uncomfortable with.
So what do you do?
That's all that matters.
You project what you are present with.
You attract what you project.
Ease into uncertainty with every breath and every step.
Ease into just being here. Now. Continually.
If you don't, you will be "here" too late.
Or will you? It's your choice.
Talk a walk.
Take a breath.
Notice that wherever the path takes you,
You were totally there!
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Some of us dread being broke.
Living paycheck to paycheck.
Barely making ends meet.
We may think we are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty, but do we really try to see the benefits of being broke?
Having very little money can force us to prioritize the important things in our lives. It also helps to make us more conscious, creative and resourceful.
It is like that old adage.
" it is not about how much you make, but how much you spend."
Or something of the like.
This is true on many levels. Our western culture has conditioned us to be more materialistic. It guides us in making convenient choices based upon purchasing things that may or may not "better our lives." In a way this is a good thing because we can buy things that will make us have more time for the things we really want to do.
Conspicuous consumption a runs rampant in this culture. We may think that spending a few bucks on a snack or a drink at a convenient store won't take too much out of our bank accounts. Then we fall into the habit of doing it more often or not. It makes sense. If we have a car, are more prone to stop at places that are quick to satiate our appetites and hunger. So all in all, the little things sure add up over time.
When we develop an unmindful spending habit, we trap ourselves in the illusion that we aren't actually spending that much money. We lose track. Especially when we pay with a card. We may think we have enough money, and maybe we do, but that disposable currency could have been used for better things. We could save the money for experiences, future investments and for emergencies. The culmination of all the small and unquestioned purchases could significantly change our lives for the better.
You may not be broke forever. This the good thing. Instead of seeing "being broke" as a bad thing, see it as a teaching of recooperation. See it as something happening for you and not to you. A time to reflect on past financial sins and act with responsibility and awareness.
Being broke allows us to switch from a habitual consumer to a creative discoverer. It allows us to see the things we overlooked in the past and ask questions.
Do I need that?
Will I be using that in the next 6 months?
Can I get by without buying that?
Can I borrow?
Can I share?
Can I trade services or get paid for doing small things for friends or willing individuals?
Instead of moping around, we have a chance to really use having little money as an advantage. We can make the unseen seen and submit ourselves to the challenge of creative solutions and critical thinking.
I have found from personal experience that not worrying about money has yielded some unexpected and interesting results. I find that I get more access to free food, drinks and things simply given to me. Is this a sustainable model? To an extent it is. When we switch from an instant gratification mindset to a more mindful and critical awareness, we can open ourselves to things that we never thought we needed or wanted. We can see our friends and people as a valuable commodity to pull from. Whether it be borrowing, sharing, trading or simply asking for something that doesn't require the need to impulsively spend money.
What value do you have to offer?
How can that value influence your non spending decisions?
How can your value save you money?
How can your value make you money?
We have a choice to switch from a grievance and victimhood mindset to a mindset of gratitude. The more we focus on the illusory and negative aspects of being broke, the more we perpetuate that which makes us discontent and lacking money. We have a choice.
We can be grateful for what we already have. This may seem obvious, but also forgotten. Being broke can weed out the discretionary aspects of our lives and shine the light on the important relationships around us.
Your vibe certainly attracts your tribe.
Abundance over Deficit.
When we can see the amazing gifts that all around us that don't need our money or cater to our compulsions, we can see and build a new world for ourselves.
The more time you spend not spending money, the more doors you will open for yourselves and others.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
They sided with them.
They saw what they were doing and decided to join the team. Without question, them became them. They thought all alike a patted each other's back. They didn't agree with them. The other them. They saw them as a threat. They saw them as different and Ill minded.
They forgot that they were them. They forgot that they use to be them. They created them and them created the they. Without thought, without skepticism.
They separated. More thems and theys to discriminate. Their concern and disdain for they created a bigger divide. Pretty soon they realized that them will be and never be they.
It was now them vs. they.
But they and them were cut from the same clothe. Seeded from the same place. Born into the same bodies.
They created the them they wanted to see. The "other". The "bother". They used everything they said against them. Them had to do the same. A vicious cycle. An endless unconscious loop.
They came after us. They and them seemed to feel united when they and them found out about us. We were no longer we. We was gone. They labeled us. It was easier for them to pick, point and blame. They made us into what they and them wanted to destroy. It seemed like that conflicts of they and them before were trivial and inconsequential. Sure, they and them never fully agreed, but they could now unite against us.
They and them are still us. "We" are one of the same. The ideologies tore us apart. The incentives for more power distracted them from themselves. The saw us as the enemies when we were only reflections of their insecurities.
They turned a blind eye to their individualities. Their unique skills and trades. Their unique ability to accept and cooperate. Their ability to work on themselves and grow. The fixed mind sets changed the game. At each other's throats. Behind each other's backs.
As they, them and us were in the middle of a skirmish. A mass event happened that made us question our motives. The tragedy united us and lit a fire inside all of us. We put down our fingers and picked up some mirrors. We became uncomfortable. Some resisted. Others accepted. The line between us, they and them was slowly being rejected.
We recognized our faults and inconsistencies.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Did you see that thing?
Oh you missed it?
It went right by you.
You were busy.
You were distracted.
No, I get it.
I mean this thing was cool.
I don't think it will ever come back. It probably won't happen again. It was in the moment. Call it special. Sure. Call it amazing. Alright. It was something short that happened. It definitely was unique. Does it even matter?
It could have enriched your life. It could have changed your mind. The fact is it didn't. Maybe I can change your mind. Maybe pointing out how important that thing was will shine some light on your awareness. I can't describe it. It would defeat the purpose.
You weren't here. You were somewhere else. Although we were at the same place and the same time, we really weren't. I guess you never really missed it. You didn't see that thing. Things will go on. Maybe something similar come along, but it definelty won't be the same.
You can do it.
It's not too late.
To pay attention.
To surrender your mind to the moment.
Then out of nowhere,
You'll finally witness "that thing".
Saturday, June 11, 2016
" What's wrong babe?"
" I don't want to talk about it?"
" Well, why not?"
" I just don't feel like talking about it, that's all."
" Well, when do you want to talk about it?"
" Sometime soon..."
This conversational excerpt may seem familiar for you. It may remind you of past conversations with a partner or loved one. What makes us not want to talk about what is bothering us? What is stopping us from expressing out true feelings?
We have been accustomed to people pleasing. To not be a burden on anyone's time, energy or overall well being. We get used to repressing our emotions just for the sake of not having to "deal" with them in a way that might seem daunting or harsh. I for one have been accustomed to answering " nothing" when obviously something is wrong.
Edie Brickell hits it on the head in the song most appropriately called Nothing.
We hit these walls when we know that communication should be the most important thing in our relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but friendships and interpersonal encounters.
It's understandable. We get caught in a mood or fixated on a certain thing that annoys us. We suddenly become that mood. Our anger hijacks our being and distances ourselves from expressing or even truly feeling the emotion for what it is. The easy way out seems to ride out the emotion or simply just hold onto it until something else distracts us.
What if we were to do something radical?
What if we were to challenge our habits and purposefully make ourselves more uncomfortable with our passing moods?
And yes, they always pass.
You may feel uncomfortable expressing something that could bring someone else's emotions down or even ruin the vibe. What if we were to be direct in saying how we feel without blowing up like mentos in a diet coke bottle? When things are direct and not focused on blaming or condemning, people won't be swarmed to get so offensive.
Let's say someone said something or did something that was particularly annoying to you.
You feel that icy cold discomfort shoot up the back of your neck. Three seconds ago you were just thinking about how nice it was outside then, Boom! You are thrown off kilter and out of wack.
You show all your signs in your body first. Non verbal communication tends to be the easiest to read and to distinguish. Instead of retreating into yourself, actually feel what it is doing to your body. Don't resist it. How does it make your head feel? How does it make your arms feel?
How does it make your legs feel? Etc.
Let's say that your friend or lover notices your physical discomfort and asks, "what's wrong?"
Usually, you would unconsciously and immediately go towards the nothing and shoo it off when in actuality you were driving the emotional stake deeper in your heart. You would prolong the inevitable. This time you can allow a space for honesty and growth.
You could say something like this.
" I've been thinking about something you just said and it made me uncomfortable. I take responsibility for my own response and since you asked, I wanted to be open in order to understand why I feel the way I feel and how others act."
When you come from a place that doesn't judge or codemn, you shorten the gap between you and them. Instead of staying with the " I don't want to talk about it ", you went against the grain. This is where awesome emotional growth happens. When you don't "feel" like talking about it, but "need" to, the best thing to do is the most uncomfortable in order for that growth to happen.
Let your mind be fluid with understanding .
See the emotions as great teachers and intuitive guides for what actions you should take. If you think a hostile or aggressive response is an answer, then you are just calling for more of that in your life and relationships. If someone is hostile towards you, go the other way. Say that you understand their hurt and see what happens.
Sometimes the best time to express what you feel is when you don't feel like expressing in the first place.
Friday, June 10, 2016
While you were reading that political article...
A young man was opening a door for an elderly woman.
While you were standing in line to order tacos and looking at your phone,
A cucumber was picked from a backyard garden.
While you were stuck in traffic,
A man on his bike found a tree to sit under.
While you were thinking about what to eat for lunch,
A panhandler got a free sandwich from a friendly driver.
While you were worrying about your significant other's feelings,
A mom went in to hug her daughter.
While you were condemning someone's actions,
A man waved at a grumpy looking man,
While you were getting impatient with a friend,
A young woman bought some of the groceries for the struggling mom and in front of her,
While you were judging a coworker,
A man smiled at a group of walking tourists,
While you were watching tv,
A college student tried his hand at learning how to ride a unicycle,
While you were bored,
A young girl picked a dandelion in a park,
While you were complaining about the heat,
A man in a business suit smelled some newly cut grass,
While you were scrolling through the feed,
A girl listened and gave advice to a hurting friend,
While you were missing out,
A squirrel chased another squirrel up a tree,
While you were sighing,
An old man whistled on a bench.
While you were complaining,
A young boy enjoyed a hot tortilla.
While you were too busy to see,
Others were living,
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
" I think that the rich should pay their fair share."
We like to use "I think" and "I feel" to describe our perspective and how we want the world to work. We cater to and strengthen our cognitive biases. We become attached to our own questionable and sometimes fallacious ideologies. What good does this do for other people? What good does it do in advancing human communication?
It is important to look at the way we feel and think. We can see emotions as teachers and have them inform us for the decisions we need to make. Understanding emotions without letting them take control of you is emotional intelligence. When we are able to be emotionally intelligent, we can learn how to effectively communicate with other human beings. We can trim the fat so to speak and speak directly with intention.
Instead of directly going to an " I think/ feel" perspective, we can minimize and detach ourself from our emotions and biased judgments. Here is an example.
" I think that cops are bad."
This statement is pretty general and does not provide any logic, reason and evidence. It doesn't really tell why He or she is mad at cops. How can we eliminate the "I think" and the ambiguity of this statement.
First we can strip away the words that are arbitrary and general in nature. The word "bad" can mean lots of things. It usually means the opposite of good. It acts as a label and does not go into more detail to prove itself. I will come back to this.
The first thing to do is to strip yourself from a certain statement that is based on emotion and biased perspective. You could say," cops are bad ", but that doesn't do any good and is an empty statement. Why would cops be bad? Why would someone think that cops are bad?
( I want to be clear and say that my opinions of cops are irrelevant to this writing. I am merely using this example out of intuition and on hypothetical terms. )
How can we use logic, reason and evidence to convey the perspective that cops are inherently bad? First off, if we are trying to prove a point, we must also take into consideration our intentions and agenda. Obviously this is all based around context. If someone just randomly says, " cops are bad", you might want to distance yourself from them since they will not be able to be reasoned with.
The real problem lies in the opinionated bias of this statement. It actually provides nothing thought provoking or intelligent to the conversation. It could even be classified as ad hominem. This whole statement of "cops are bad" is counter intuitive, biased and fallacious in nature.
Well, can we use another example?
I could pick a different example of an I think or I feel statement, but as we can see above, it simply does not does us well in proving a point, inner growth, and widening a conversation.
One thing to consider in getting away from I think/feel statements, is to keep asking questions. When hearing someone's point we might unconsciously try to label their perspective from the limited and biased information we have received. When we stop being inquisitive, we start to form fallacious opinions of other people's perspectives and label them with false identifiers.
Just keep being curious.
Just keep asking questions.
Asking who, what, where and why are the first step in expanding into the realm of truth and reason. It not only revolves around asking others, but it requires that constantly asking yourself uncomfortable questions. It requires constant challenging of ideas that come in and out of your consciousness. This is how growth happens.
When we get wrapped up in how we feel or think, we trap ourselves in a feedback loop. We put ourselves as the center of attention. We go from a curious state to a state of self importance and internal conflict. We have the opportunity to step back and actually feel our emotions and analyse our thoughts without getting attached to them.
What is the value in having an I think/ I feel statement?
Is our opinion necessary in advancing the understanding of the situation and the other people involved?
Are you merely being self centered by only expressions your opinions and not moving the conversation towards truth?
It is important to express feelings with honesty. It is more important to understand where those feelings are coming from. When we are angry, we are angry with ourselves. When we feel irritated or jealous, there is an inward disturbance. Why do we feel the way we feel? There lies the real problem. Before expressing, take a look inside yourself and question the value of an I think and I feel statement.
Why do you think that?
Why do you feel that?
How will expressing what I think and feel enrich my and the other person's life?