I was listening to the Tony Robbins podcast and I stumbled upon an interview that he and his wife did with Michael Singer; the author of “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.” I was drawn to it because it was titled “Do you want to be happy?” This three way dialogue did more than inspire me to Amazon prime the book to myself. As I listened, this conversation reframed the belief that I have long held; happiness is an inside job. It ignited my head bobbing move, which I call the “Yes, yes, yassss, I get that!”
Robbins spoke eloquently about what my heart has always known… External abundance provides us with only fleeting happiness. It’s true… Taco’s, tequila, a big house with the wrap around porch, an endless supply of tight yoga pants; all of these things will only satisfy us for a period of time… Sad, I know… Robins suggests that true joy is marked by our participation in life, what we gift to people/the world, and who we evolve to be. I was totally digging this notion, but likewise, the thought that even this kind of happiness is truly temporary, did not elude me.
I get it. Stop buying and chasing shit, and work on your internal happiness. Simple to type, but if you are anything like me, you are now frantically searching the on-line self-help section for directions to; destination “self-love.” It sucks to admit, but I am one of the many whose Garmin has rerouted her more times than she’d like to count. While I like to believe that I have gotten close, I am certain that I have taken an insane amount of wrong turns; always seeming to ensure that I fall short of that final destination/ finish line.
I am not sure I have ever spoken of it out loud, or written about it, but I consider my closet to be the physical manifestation of this cyclical lesson. Most days I don’t have or make time to learn how to love my muffin top or do an hour of cardio, but I have tank tops, shirts, sweaters, pants, and jackets to help minimize its shape; which helps with quieting the thoughts too. You know… the thoughts that I am not loveable, because of the size of my ass or arms. So just like that, there I was, in the hamster wheel of my mind while driving to work; wondering if I was ever really going to love myself.
Then Singer said something that made me reconsider not only how to achieve it, but also what self-love really looks like. In my own words he said that when we have crappy life experiences we don’t want to feel them; so we suppress or avoid them. (Makes sense to me). He continued… Often times we do this by searching for things that have made us feel good in the past; therefore automatically ensuring that we look for someone or something outside of ourselves, to soothe the “discomfort.” I present to you, my closet. I present to you, the silly idea that once you have the house, relationship, or job of your dreams, you will be happy. Let’s call it the “quick fix,” of thinking. Even when your closet is a huge mess, or the longing for romantic love hurts, you can rest with certainty; because once you find the right shirt or soulmate, you will be happy. Right? Wrong. Even more concerning (and interesting), is what happens to the experiences/emotions we don’t want to feel. Singer states that that when we seek happiness/comfort with the external, we are actually trapping these traumatic, no good, rotten thoughts and feelings inside our bodies. He goes on to explain that collecting these disturbing life experiences leads to the creation of a disturbed mind.
Singer suggests that we limit our potential for true internal happiness, because our minds have conjured up specific things and experiences that need to occur outside of us, for us to be happy. There are many problems with this, but most obvious is that what we live in a world of limitless possibilities; so what we think will make us happy, doesn’t always occur. In this way we are almost ensuring that we fail at being happy. The universe delivers something that looks different and we refuse to experience it. He likened it to behaving like a child, and boy did this resonate with me… It’s like delivering chicken nuggets and ketchup to my toddler on a green plate, when she wanted the pink one. She has already told herself that the pink plate makes her happy. It doesn’t matter that it’s the same plastic plate in shape and size, because the color is in fact, different. Like her, we are all constantly doing this in our lives. We are emotionally folding our arms and scrunching our faces at what is being served to us. What a rotten way to meet the present moment. If we want to be happy we have to change this.
We cannot go back and undo the way we have handled what was handed to us in the past, but we can learn and do better now; which will help us release the old stuff when it bubbles up (because it always does). We are all going to face uncomfortable moments. Moments that don’t seem to align with what we think joy should look like; unconsciously carving pain into our hearts. In these moments we can choose. We can choose to let the squirming of discomfort drive us to the mall to get a new outfit, let it send us into the arms of” Mr. Bad Decision,” or we can stop labeling and resisting whatever arises within us. We can pause with awareness, relax into the temporary, and release it.
So let us practice. Practice meeting the present moment as though we are dying, because we are. Practice greeting what lands in front of us as if it could be our path to happiness, because it is. Practice releasing our toddler like expectations, because we are grown. Practice in whatever ways, and for all of our days… Practice through meditation, mindfulness, movement, and mantras, because our happiness depends on it.
Practice until it becomes a part of you. Surrender to arrive, before the moment passes you by…