Peace, Love and Beauty be with You
I had SUCH an interesting day yesterday from the standpoint of mindfulness, an observer of the self, the "I" behind the LBD, the thinker/feeler/doer behind the thoughts, feelings and actions. Oh, yes. Interesting. But from the standpoint of actual BEING, it was painful.
I was experiencing a lot of very depressed thoughts and feelings. My mood was low. My thoughts were generally pessimistic, hopeless, discouraged, and negative. This, around areas of my job, my career, my health, my body, relationships, people in my life, and this was how I really knew something was up -- after 3 months of mega complaining about the weather in NY, bracing, waiting like a child for a visit from Santa and Rudolph on Christmas morning for some real Spring weather to show up, becoming blissful and gleeful whenever the sun DOES shine, I actually had the thought yesterday: Ugh, it's really hot out. Summer's gonna suck.
I had lunch with one of my closest friends who happens to be as wise as she is loving. Very lucky me. I told her the majority of what I was feeling and something we came to agreement on is that efforts to push away feelings, whether they are grief, sadness, frustration, etc., too prematurely will prevent the necessary transformation and relief. In other words, feel what you feel and be with it in as easy and non-punitive way as possible.
So, I took that advice and my laptop to the river last night to write and reflect on exactly wtf is going on, what might be preventing me from feeling more happiness, contentment and gratitude in my life. Like the inquisitive journalist that I am, I started asking myself questions. I let myself just rant and speak out, hoping the writing would lead to clarity. It did.
Looking back at my notes, I realized that the unhappiness I was feeling seems to fall into a few categories:
*The first is ANGER and frustration with myself for not doing more or better to accomplish my goals. This has to do with pro-activity or lack thereof on the career front, eating habits, appearance, money management, thoughts I choose to focus on -- all the things and factors that at I CAN control, I feel like I'm not doing a good enough job at controlling. I'm very hard on myself but at the same time, there are just some areas that I am really not holding myself up to a standard I believe in. So, in this category, I am not mad at you per se, I'm mad at ME.
*The second is some kind of sizable GRIEF cloud about the past. It's the way I get when, as was the case yesterday, I stop dead in my tracks when I smell the fresh cut grass and it transports me back to summer camp when I was happy and free and running around playing soccer with boys and girls. Nostalgia, folks. Or, when I see a couple smooching and I can feel the closeness of someone I loved as if they were right there with me. I'm no longer alone until I look at where my feet are and realize that in this moment, I actually am alone. I sometimes think I live with my own built in orchestra or soundtrack cued up to play a sad story on strings. Wah wah wahhhhh...
*The third has something to do with a FEAR of who to trust in this game of life. My world is really full and I have coworkers and friends. I run in a lot of different circles. The feeling that is most disruptive to me is not knowing where to put my trust, other than in myself and my higher power. I want to believe that people can really be trusted. We all do, right? Yet, I feel really confused about who to trust and also when I see how self seeking much of us can be sometimes. Myself included. 'Me, me, my, not you' is the song people sing out of fear of not getting, not having enough, not being enough as is.
*The fourth category is ENVY and drawing comparisons. When my envy-meter stars up and I fall into the trap of comparing myself to others, it's a complete and total mess. I think thoughts until I'm convinced I am, have and will be -- nothing. It is corrosive. It is more distressing than anything and it makes me have ill feelings towards anybody who has anything I want that I don't yet have for myself.
SO, those are 4 categories that are pools you might be swimming in if you don't feel well at any given time. If you don't feel happy. Now, you can be as unhappy or as moody as you want to be, right? Look at Woody Allen. I don't know if he'd call himself a HAPPY man, per se, but he is definitely making some significant contributions to society. Some people don't want to be HAPPY out of fear it will cause some sort of disruption to an ability to find truth, understand pain, create art, etc. As far as I understand, and my positive psychology buddies can certainly chime in on this (Louis, Emiliya..) being HAPPY is not about joy, bliss, glee, positivity and optimism all the time. It's a balance between that and the other aspects of the human condition, but I think the importance is being able to feel and understand how to frame and see things in way that brings meaning and feels loving and compassionate.
If you've read this far, I must've struck a cord with you and I hope you find it validating to some degree. Don't worry, I haven't brought you this far to leave you and say Good Luck, although certainly if you want to stop reading now, that's cool. Instead, I want to put a few ideas forth about how to deal and what else I've learned about where to go from here.
Anything I say here is meant to be considered as the words of a writer, not a shrink.
*Allow your anger, grief, fear and envy. That's right. Feel it, feel it, feel it. Let it run through your entire system like an uninhibited group of mountain lions and then, if you need to, punch a pillow, write 10 pages in your journal, pull an Eat Pray Love moment of quiet (or externalized) desperation on your kitchen or bathroom floor, declare it all useless, meaningless, empty and defeating, throw your hands up to the gods and curse every Facebook friend you have, judge, shame and blame, to yourself, all that is in your world. THEN, take a really deep breath, exhale, and see what happens. I would bet $1,000 you'll feel some relief. After that, GO TO SLEEP.
*Line up some new actions ASAP. When I say NEW action, I mean something you haven't tried or done before. A new fitness class. An open mic night. Sending out ONE resume to a prospective employer, Signing up for an online dating site that previously made you shiver but that you're open to now bc it's summer and you want to get laid. Or, you want to meet The One! You see, dating websites are fun bc you can be VERY specific in your wants and line up a few dates with like-minded fellows or ladies. All good. Just take an action!
*Forgive the Past. Huh? How do you forgive the Past? What about people in it? Ok, yes, them, too. Whoever caused you injustice, said No when you wanted a YES, whatever things happened, those moment you can't let go of (Saturday morning, I'm in Prospect Park, sunny, pick up soccer game, I'm 25, BOOM BOO YA, a Jamaican guy on the opposing team comes in for a tackle and crushes my ankle, thus ending my ability to really play 3 surgeries later), you've gotta forgive. It's letting go vis a vis FORGIVENESS. That's how it happens. The same way a mommy forgives a little child for a big mistake that wasn't intentional. That's kind of like how I look at the Past. It wasn't personal. It's just how the Past did its thing. So, imagine getting an apology for hurting you.
I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm sorry you felt so hurt by certain aspects of me.
Dear The Past,
Okay, thanks for the apology. It hurt. A LOT. I would not have chosen it myself but I understand it went down as it did and the time has come to forgive, let go and move on.
The next point is probably nothing you or I haven't heard before but it bears repeating. Here it is from a text another one of my wise and loving friends (did I mention how lucky I am for the people in my life? XOmg) sent me this morning:
You have a very full life. You have lots of reasons to believe things will work out for you. Whatever you focus on will magnify. I think you need a gratitude list. You did not lose a life. The people affected by the tornadoes and floods have lost lives. Get up and take action toward getting what you want. Said with love. -xxx
So, I would agree wholeheartedly that while GRATITUDE can be something that can lead to complacency if not balanced with realism (ie if you're in a shitty relationship but you keep staying grateful for what is GOOD about it, you might never seek the GREAT you DESERVE) in other ways it is absolutely wonderful and the antidote to feeling unhappy. My mood is always lifted when I turn to gratitude and from there, I have the power and strength to actually start moving in the direction or making changes I want to make. But, it starts with a fair amount of gratitude for the present moment and what you do have in your life that is ABUNDANT.
I know for me I have so much and I get blindsided by unhappiness waves. I miss it! Which is kind of my biggest fear and one that could be a self fulfilling prophesy for the rest of my life if I am not careful. You see, life is good. So good. Too good to miss, actually. Yet, we miss it. Do you miss...
the beauty because you're in the worry
the love coming at you because you're wanting for the love that was never even there in the first place
the quiet because of the storms in your head
the opportunity because you're still mourning the one you missed 5 years ago
THAT, my friends, is my goal and the goal of this very long post on this very humid, sunny(ish), peaceful, fairly okay to good morning in New York City. I want to get what it is here now. What I KNOW is open to me without having to change a single thing except my perspective.
Feeling good about myself, my accomplishments, the friendships, my family, this city, what I've overcome and all that is yet to come...
So, I don't know if that's "HAPPY" but I do know for sure it is PEACEFUL and it is LOVING. That, ultimately, is what I think I am really seeking and in some instances, finding.
More peace. More love. And, more BEAUTY!!!!!!
I love beauty.
Peace, love and beauty be with you. :)