Waiting to Be Happy or Choosing to Be
Emotionally Lost Without Instructions
Ever since my intuition pushed me into this life long venture to think for myself, I kept discovering one after another some limiting beliefs running the engine of our cultural paradigm. One in particular was this common attitude of emotional dependence on a nature of circumstances, and what kind of mood is "prescribed" for each of them by collective and customary practice.
At times it makes me wonder if people would know how to emotionally react to life if no one gave them a manual in the process of growing up. By the time we grow into adults it's a well played-in routine, and we don't question anymore if it's appropriate to be cheerful on Monday morning; or react with a joy for standing in long lineups; or being delighted for seeing mother-in-law at Sunday dinner table.
Isn't it great not having to plan our feelings? We got them all covered somewhere in the hard drive of our brains. And no one seems to dare to question such robotic behavior, since every aspect of it so nicely fits under the umbrella of "no one is perfect".
Indeed, it's like we have absolutely no say over what kind of emotions may "befall" us. So we hear something like: "He made me so angry"...or : "Her complaining drives me crazy"; or: "I'll be the happiest person once that the mortgage is paid off".
O.K., I will spare you from the rest of the long list which you might fill in better than I, since I am in a habit of turning a deaf ear to them. This deafness is not completely a metaphor, but I really have only 60 % of hearing left. A part of it is apparently a gift from military service, but sometimes I go suspicious a bit. Maybe I could hear much better if I cared to listen to everything that's trying to assault my ears---which might have become more of a psycho-somatic issue.
We Don't Know That We Can
Indeed, to a Mr. Calm of my special breed it's almost painful to observe how people fuss over things without a slightest idea that they could simply "recalibrate" their emotional apparatus and screen out all crap happening around them and at the most distant parts of the earth---since that also seems to bother them.
By the end of this article, I hope that at least some of you may start questioning this popular passion of playing an emotional slave to the whims of the outside stimulation. Maybe, along with me, you will start seeing folks as upright walking pianos with a lot of keys---some white, some black, corresponding to their emotional repertoire always available for pressing.
The problem with all that doesn't seem to be our inability to be more pro-active and much less re-active in daily computation of what we feel---but in our not knowing that we can. Let's face it, folks, we don't hear anyone saying on Monday morning: "I just love making myself happy!"
That's the main problem: this "monkey-see-monkey-do" syndrome. Meaning that---if monkey doesn't see---monkey doesn't do". When, as a kid, you did something wrong, and your mother angrily sent you to your room---correct me if I am wrong---but she didn't finish saying her verdict with words: "It's now up to you if you want to see it as amusing or as a punishment".
We have been heavily programmed how to react. And now, unless we have been enjoying it, it could be a good idea to consider undoing some of it. What do you say? I understand that some of you might have read my other articles and they didn't do much for your desired inner changes except possibly giving you a passing inspiration.
So, here I go again, persistent as hell, trying from just a little different angle to convince you that we really can feel as happy as we want---and I mean without that shot of brandy or getting laid.
Try My New Dish with Those Same Potatoes
In some of my previous articles I might have called it something different, but let me explain this apparent paraphrasing. We all know what a potato is. If you are served potatoes in one dish, for some reason you may not find it so appetizing like those same kind of potatoes in another dish, maybe with some extra spice or so.
You got where I am going with this? So, I hope you may find my today's potatoes more delicious and easier to digest.
I'll even use the phrase which is very familiar: "Fake it till you make it."
Being this kind of a dude with this apparent mission to make people feel better, sometimes I ask people of my life: "Why don't you try something for the first time, like deciding right now this moment to feel great---and I mean great?" Then they give me a look like I just ask them to use a dull knife for splitting an atom.
But, being also known as a persistent pest, I keep pushing: "Come on, your face is not even trying to relax. And look at your shoulders all tensed up. I bet you your stomach muscles are begging you to allow them to let go of that last argument with your boss."
Well, admittedly, my success record looks like this: most of them pick up some enthusiasm, but then they forget about it at times when someone mentions politics. That's where I lose them completely. More often than not the opposite happens---I join their bitching out of sheer compassion. Well, they are so much easier to imitate than I.
So, let me say that important point again: it's not that we "can't" feel happier at will---but we don't know that we can, so that automatically means that we can't. We are social beings, and as a part of our feeling of "belonging", we feel obligated to be pretty much like everybody else, not to be looked at as outcasts and traitors.
So, when it's time to be pissed-off, don't disappoint anybody by leisurely whistling one of your favorite tunes. Devil himself may show up to remind you that you are supposed to feel miserable.
Really, It's All about Some Re-Training
Back there I mentioned the old good advice: "Fake it till you make it". While you might have used it for some new dance steps, you probably never expected that a dude would ask you to fake your happiness.
For, as you are reasoning, even if you did it for a while, it would quickly fade away, like that enthusiasm at mother-in-law's birthday party. You see, the trick is in not letting yourself go off the hook so soon. I promise not to make it too complicated for too long, but like good Dr. Joe Dispenza would say: "Brain cells that fire together---wire together"----meaning that we create a new neural pathway in our brain every time we insist for a while with the same pattern of experiencing.
I didn't pick mother-in-law's birthday as an example only to be a little humorous, but to give you a hint that we have to mostly practice feeling good when nothing in happenstances is calling for such feelings.
Remember? It's the business of "un"-doing something. It's easy to practice happiness at Sunday barbeque time with a few beer bottles already empty in the bucket. O.K. those extreme crappy times are not the right moments either for that practice, but try shadow-boxing with something almost emotionally neutral.
Pick a boring time and make it pleasant with nothing but the power of your mind. Your body may help enormously. Remember how you breathe when you are happy. Now, I don't mean "excited"---excitement is not happiness, otherwise every depressed dude having sex would be happy as a lark. I mean that peaceful, calm, tingling happiness in your solar plexus, with mind purring like a Swiss watch.
Then do something about your posture. And your loose joints---imagine that so far you have been walking like Frankenstein, and now make it loose, flexible. And put that Mona Lisa smile on your face and keep it there no matter what. Just as if you were waiting for Leonardo da Vinci to make a portrait of Mona Lisa's sibling and use you as a model. Hum a tune, call a friend and tell them something funny, give them a compliment---it doesn't matter if the bastard deserves one or not.
Act like a happy dude or dudesse, never forgetting the golden rule: It doesn't matter how "well" you are faking it, but for "how long".
Changing the Concept of "Normal"
It's been some decades now that I watched a comedy called something like: "What's So Bad About Feeling Good". It was about this rare bird that rapidly spread a "virus of happiness", with some disastrous consequences following it.
Suddenly, police had nothing to do, and the whole justice system came to a standstill, hospitals got empty, and people drastically reduced buying stuff while being happy with what they got. A state of emergency was declared. "Luckily" for the whole "system" before it collapsed, that virus didn't last, and soon everyone got back to their "normal".
A little taste of that movie you may get after you snap out of your "normal" and start being a happier human. I should know, I've been called "weird"---not by words but by looks I got. There were times when I had to make a good effort to defend my being happy, as if everybody around was insulted by it.
Like it was not enough that I stopped drinking, smoking, having coffee, sweets, and wheat---because my stomach stopped being my "factory of happiness"---but I also didn't show enough concern for the world's politics, global warming, price of gas, and all those indicators of "being a normal human being".
So, be ready for some mixed reactions from folks who always re-act a lot. Some may get inspired, others may try hard to put your happiness down. More than ever in your life you may at times feel like you "don't belong"---but that's the price you have to pay for being happy for more than winning a jack pot.
However, that's how it gets only until people learn to accept you. Then they just give you those looks, maybe shake their head from time to time, and wonder what to buy you for Christmas, since you already are happy. But it's O.K., because after a while you stop giving a rat's ass how anybody looks at you.
And it only adds to your happiness.