Today I went for my weekly meditation session at my local Buddhist centre. This week’s theme was “choosing to be happy. “ Yes, Buddha says this is an actual thing. Who knew we could just choose? Well me for a start! I have been listening to what Steve says Buddha says… for quite some years now; and yet sometimes my humanness, my crazy (Buddha would call it my VERY delusional) mind gets the better of me and I choose to go a little off-piste. Why is that, why would I not choose happy? Isn’t being happy what we are all constantly searching and striving for? In fact don’t we all put an immense amount of pressure on ourselves to always be full of the joys of spring? We want everyone around us also to be radiating the positivity vibes. Or is that just me? I’m such a people pleaser; I get high on everybody else’s needs being met. And suck in their lows like some empathetic Hoover!
Life feels a bit like being on some crazy treasure hunt, continual happiness being the Holy Grail. Win the obstacle race, first prize Contentment. We accumulate things along the way, moments of pleasure, little tokens adorned with smiley faces desperately trying to fill the greedy slot machine inside. It’s hard to win the jackpot. Why is that damn happy feeling so addictive and all-consuming? Why haven’t I taken on board all of the great advice and wisdom shared by Buddha and Steve and got this cheerfulness malarkey sussed by now? I mean full time, no off days. Buddha says happiness is an inside job. I’m in control of my inside right? Admittedly I have been known to nod off (think Steve’s secretly sending us into a hypnotic trance) but surely it’s all going in. We leave the room refreshed and inspired on a Wednesday afternoon. Buddha talks sense. We can do this!
When Steve tells us we can choose to be happy, there is always that cynical ghost in the room whispering “really” (raised eyebrows) So your dog just got run over, your husband is sleeping with your best friend, your brother has kidney failure, you’ve been made redundant and can’t feed your kids and you’ve got the gist of what Mr Really is trying to say. There are a million and one scenarios where nothing about that situation can be magically transformed into something good. Steve likes to remind us that there are outside problems, problems that need an outside solution that won’t be magically solved by us becoming hysterical wrecks. They won’t just cease to be because you are having a hissy fit. When we let our emotions take over, when our calm and peaceful mind scarpers that is when we get the inside problems too. The health problems. Steve is right.
I saw this little thing about STRESS today, it explained in simple terms how stress occurs. When we hold opposing thoughts on the same subject it becomes a battle within. For example, I am ironing; I’d rather be doing Yoga. I want the latest Easy Tiger Yoga Leggs; I can’t have them. I am eating a carrot stick; I want a Toblerone. Basically, it’s when you find yourself at odds with yourself (you know that internal chatter) it creates stressful emotions. Apparently when an opposite thought contradicts something we might desire it is strongly advised to either change the thought or let go of the desire. (These carrots are delicious, yum!). Easy right!? No it’s bloody not! But it makes sense, we can’t win these battles, it is futile to even try. To let things go, to accept when something isn’t viable to talk yourself into doing what has to be done, having what you can have and really getting on board with that choice, that makes a lot of sense to me. Again it’s all about what we are choosing. It’s like when kids don’t want to do homework, how much time is wasted moaning and putting it off.
It has to be done in the end. Think how much extra care attention and effort could have been used in a positive way. Don’t humans waste so much time complaining! (Or is that just a British thing?) I hear myself moaning about people that are always moaning.
A meal made with love tastes better than something thrown together begrudgingly. It’s like our energy weaves its way into what we are creating. I’m a big believer that we reap what we sow in every area of our lives. Enthusiasm produces great results. So why do we entertain that troublesome voice that tries so hard to convince us that most of the things we want are the things that we can never have. Nobody likes to just settle and I am not implying we shouldn’t have dreams. But maybe sometimes it’s less painful to be realistic and work with what we do have. Why is contentment just out of reach for most of us?
If Bradley Cooper knocked at your door when you weren’t being your best self, would you show him your face like thunder? No, I don’t think you would. I think you would put on your happy face pronto. I am certain you’d flip that switch. I think you’d choose happy. (Yes I have A Star Is Born Syndrome, who knew Bradley could sing). I am not talking about depression here; I am talking about bad moods. I am wondering if it is possible to have less of them if we take advice from the enlightened one and really have a serious go at taking charge of our own minds. Can we meditate our way to a happier life? I think we can if we put in the effort. If we get tough on that internal dialogue and refuse to play it’s warped little games. Not every day, we are mere mortals after all but we can try harder. One day at a time.
The dictionary describes the word happy as a feeling of satisfaction, pleasure and contentment. Peaceful is referred to as tranquillity, a state free from disturbance. Calm it seems is the ability to not show feelings of nervousness, anger or other strong emotions. Enlightenment encompasses all this and more. It is wisdom, insight and compassion. An understanding. An awakening.
I think we can’t help but have our off days. Light and dark, that sums up life. There will always be a constant fresh supply of outside problems coming and going. If you are sensitive like me it’s so hard not take them inside. If you genuinely care it is so difficult to live in a state free from disturbance. I am easily disturbed! I guess that is why I go see Steve; he reminds me that we have choices. I’m choosing happiness. (Well trying). I want calm and peaceful. Who wouldn’t?
Working towards enlightenment