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Pair #100 Turbulence Ahead on the Road to Bliss
As humans we all want to be happy. The 'spiritual' journey is often that special search for happiness and wellbeing that we undertake when all the other searches have failed.

But if you are seated in the last resort spiritual life raft, what do you do if that journey is just as bumpy as all the rest?

Here you are working hard at improving yourself, doing the best you know and then... you wake up down in the dumps, you yell at your kid, one way or another the halo slips off and with it goes your equilibrium.  And your faith.

Now what?

A client recently sheepishly admitted to me he was going through a very dark time and was wondering how it's possible to know so much, be striving every day to put this knowledge to work, be immersed spiritual teachings and guidance, books, audios, inspirational messages and workshops and still have a bad day. Several actually.  Well, OK, a couple of months. 

He ended up thinking: if this spiritual stuff is all about living from a persistent and reliable state of wellbeing and contentment, how come I'm doing such a bad job of it?

Who wouldn't draw a similar conclusion?  And yet what's happening when we ask 'what's wrong with me?' is not just that we are looking in the wrong place for an answer, we are looking from the wrong place.

Like my client, every one of us who is trying very hard to be better and do better, eventually find themselves in the middle of a down day.

And everything looks bad from there.

In fact it is from the middle of the poo pile that the answer is always going to be the same: get me the heck out of here.  That's they only thing you could conclude from the center of your own bad feelings.

So give yourself a break.

If I'm depressed and feeling low, that is when I have the least amount of access to my way out.  I am looking at my problem from inside the problem.  From the middle of my poor thinking, of course it is going to look like my spiritual understanding is of no use to me.  I could conclude all kinds of things about me as a person, a mother, or a friend.

However, when I am looking at any problem from the larger picture of my life, the bigger truth is that it is not that imperative that this moment be different. The moment just is. There is nothing permanent about now.

It is as if I'm measuring the each moment as I go and asking, like a kid from the backseat, "Are we THERE yet?!"

I've already set it up as a 'someday' proposition.  I'm measuring my progress to destination based on whether I am problem free, always happy, never disappointed, never angry and so on. 

What my client and I reflected on together is that perhaps peace of mind is not so much that we always feel peaceful (as somewhere to get to) but rather that when we are not peaceful it's actually OK. The only thing about it worth seeing really is that it's just not the best place from which to see my problem or my solution clearly.

So we thought it might be true that...

Peacefulness includes 'not peaceful'. Sometimes.

Peacefulness isn't a good measure of how far we are along our way on the journey to bliss.  Peacefulness is the measure of the extent to which we understand how human functioning operates in the big picture.

How it really operates is that we all came here already knowing how to love, how to feel joy, and having an intelligence to use in life.  Nothing can ever take that away. No bad moment or bad feeling, no matter how bad, can ever change that.

I personally don't feel peaceful and in my well-being in every single moment - and my single biggest spiritual learning so far is: this is fine.

We do a lot of striving in order to feel good 24/7, when in fact feeling good might just include feeling fine about not always feeling good.

Might as well relax, then. 


© 2011 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' on http://elesecoit.com"
 
 
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Pair #94 Weather forecast: a bad day ahead
I was observing the fog over the ocean the other day.  In a matter of minutes the fog rolled in and the huge expanse of ocean simply blended away. Gone.

it was as if there was no more ocean.  Just grey all around.

You know the saying that just because the clouds are there doesn't mean the sun has gone?  We use that to try to buck ourselves up when things get hard.  It's a way of saying have faith - the sun will come back.  But really, why do we need faith? Faith is hard. Faith is a struggle. Faith asks me to believe what I don't believe and still be comfortable and happy.

But beyond that,  why do I need to know the sun is going to come back anyway?

Reflecting on the scene in front of me I thought -- not only is the ocean not 'gone' but the ocean is unaware of my perceptions and opinions of it.  It really doesn't give a monkey's if it is hidden or in plain site. Just as the sun doesn't care if the clouds roll over it. And the sky doesn't 'care' about whether it is experiencing a hurricane. It is entirely neutral.

Life is entirely neutral.

I on the other hand, am not. 

Ever watched a nature program and felt 'sad' when the lion tumbles and kills the pretty gazelle?

We add all the opinions and views about what we see.  The weather is a useful example of how we do this all day long.  When we have casual conversations about forecasts we are not talking about the weather, but about our opinions of the weather.  "It's going to rain AGAIN today," "It's going to stay nice ALL day," "It's going to be 20 degrees today!" are not facts, they are predictors of the day I'm about to have.

And I make them.

Human life is so interesting, isn't it?  It's natural to have opinions about things.  At the same time, there's that ocean. Just being there.

I'm certainly not experiencing the neutrality of life all day long. But I am glad to know that my own state of mind is ultimately is responsible for the quality of my life experience. 

I find that infinitely more encouraging than a life being blown by about by the four winds.

© 2011 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' on http://elesecoit.com"
 
 
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Pair #89 How did you get into my head?
"There is only one way to happiness, and that is to stop worrying about   things that are beyond our control." ~ Epictetus

I was thinking about today's topic: things that are out of our control.  It reminded me of something that happened in my life that I hadn't thought about for a long time.

When I was 20 I had a stalker.  

Now, he was someone who wouldn't leave me alone, and wouldn't leave my friends alone and would go to any lengths to find me. No matter how hard I tried to hide, eventually he would turn up at work or at my door.  I became very frightened, and I remember vividly to this day what it was like to wonder whether I was safe, whether he would find me, whether something bad was about to happen.

A situation like this has many elements that are out of control.  I couldn't have control over his actions, decisions or whereabouts.  I also felt very little control in my own life.

Looking back on this event I know that I had very little understanding of my inner world, and even while I was taking action on the outside to protect myself, it took me a while to see and overcome the inner panic that I took with me everywhere I went.

And there is one learning from this I cherish and would like to talk about today: 

my inner state is mine.   

It cannot really be disturbed by anyone or anything else.

When I fled the country to 'get away' all those years ago, I wish I had known that I didn't have to take him with me in my head.  That particular piece of the story took a bit longer for me to see.  Now I know more about my own state of mind and the elements that play into how I feel within myself.  

And, in the end, I'm very glad that other people can't actually step into our heads.

We do have to let them in.

Which means we can kick them out.

 
 
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Pair #67 Anyone seen my happiness lying around?
Recently I attended Robert Holden's Coaching Happiness training and I really experienced the power of asking yourself deep questions about happiness ... and then listening for the answer.

What Robert brought home to me was the power of asking questions like, "What is Happiness for me?"  and treating Happiness, not as a destination, but as an inquiry.  

Here are some of my fave quotes from Robert that week

"When we forget who we are, we forget what happiness is"

"Happiness is a non-deserving issue"

"Happiness is the experience of your true nature"

"Will your choices help you be happy Now... or Eventually?"

Where am I with my inquiry?  For me, today, happiness is relaxing into me exactly as I am and exactly as I am not.   Self-love and self-acceptance may sound pretty dumb when rolled up into pat utterances like "love yourself" or "I'm OK, You're OK" but when you ask what that looks like and what it means for you, it can become meaningful. 

What is happiness?

when I stop trying to 'become'
when I'm kind and loving
when I'm not believing all my small thoughts about myself
the space when I'm not trying to rid myself of anything

Happiness is when I look and really see that I'm always just one thought away from happiness. 

How encouraging.
 
 
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Pair #51 All is Never Enough
I can understand that we want stuff.  I want stuff.  I want to have things, I want to feel things, I want experiences as well as stuff.  

Stuff is great and it’s fun. You can eat it, play with it, climb it, build with it and talk it for a drive.  It’s just a really crap way to find happiness when we feel empty.  

Our human paradox or curse or whatever you want to call it is that, having no experience of a sense of happiness arising from the inside, we look outside and  unfortunately 'finding' happiness outside of ourselves isn't possible.

That's just a fact. It's simply impossible. I don't know about you, but I looked!  

Most of us will look outside, sometimes for a long time, before we become ready to turn inward. Sometimes it is only the disappointment that arises out of great, great avarice that may finally teach someone that no amount of things (money, love, sex or Anything) will ever be the key to happiness. In that sense avarice and greed may be bizarrely good things that accelerate a normally slow process of discovering the emptiness of things.  When we don't understand that happiness already lies within us, I believe this is what we do.    

Excess is the same.  Some of us need to go to excess in something, or many things, in order to  find the boundaries of it. But if we go to excess in the acquisition of things, it simply has the same ending point:  to teach us there is no satisfaction here.

We all learn that lesson in our own ways.  Who can say who has the best way?

But you don’t win the game if you are the one with the most toys when you die.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #37 Don't Look Down!
Things happen every day that we do not like.

Maybe something small, like getting a paper cut or breaking a nail.  Annoying, but no big deal.  And then there are the bigger things: plummeting stocks, an unexpected vet bill, something major goes wrong with your car... on and on.

We can't rid ourselves of annoyances.  Things happen that we cannot control, no matter how much we try to.

If my plane is late or cancelled, I understand that I can't fix or change as I stand at the ticket desk.  But as I stand there, who will I be?   I could have any number of experiences, from fury to friendliness, from annoyance to understanding.  I can just as well say to myself, "These things happen," as"This is always happening to me!"

No matter what our 'personality type' we are still choosing our focus.

Focus on certain things will leave us feeling relaxed.  Focus on other things will leave us tense. We know this because we can use devices like visualizing petting the cat or to breathing as we envision the tension flow out our feet and into the ground. We can just touch base with something we appreciate like having great friends (or reminding myself how lucky I am that just spent an entire week with my Dad). Feeling grateful and annoyed at the same time is actually impossible. Or we can empathize with others, looking around to find those who are having a worse time than we are or imagining what it's like to be the ticket agents who have to be the brunt of people's frustrations every day.

These techniques that bring us back to the moment, calm us down, and restore our sanity, won't wipe out stock losses, get planes off the ground or stop time.  But they do feel better.

And I'll tell you what else feels better to me: to know that I have a choice.

And yunno, if I want to feel bad,  I know just how to do that too.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.
 
 
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Pair #33  I'm unhappy, you're unhappy, sign here...
As someone who spent quite a bit of time supporting causes of all kinds, I can say I paid my dues to the "We're Pissed And We Are Not Going To Take It Any More!" Club.  If there had been an award points program for righteous indignation, I'd be a Life-Long Platinum Club card holder.

So this last week when the theme for the radio show was "Hot Pursuit of Happiness", it really hit me... I always assumed I needed to be unhappy about something in order to change it.  In fact, the more angry I was, the better an activist I felt.

I was wrong. 

It has not escaped me that we have not essentially changed much in any of the causes I campaigned for using my fists. That doesn't mean things haven't changed at all.  Women have more rights. In some places Gay people have more rights. In some places you can live without 'being disappeared' one day. And it doesn't mean that a picture of a starving child plastered on the news won't mobilize the sympathies and pocket books of millions of people for the right cause.

But we can do all of that, anytime we like without the anger.  We can change anything we want without being sad, depressed or upset about it.  We can do it because we want to. That’s enough.

As my friend Jacob Glass was talking about in his lecture this week: to teach happiness, we need to be happy teachers.  I think to teach peace we need to be peaceful people.  Jacob is right when he says that somewhere in the midst of devastation somewhere in the world, people are most probably not wishing and hoping that "that angry, depressed guy comes back to help us out.’"

Now I know that I can be part of the solution to any problem, anytime if I want to and decide to.

I think we can change the world. One mind at a time. Starting with our own.

© 2010 Elese Coit
If you wish to reprint, feel free, please link back here and if it's of use, include:
"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' each day on http://elesecoit.com"

Thank you.