Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Over a year ago (nearly two years, I think) I began engaging in simple meditation. No chanting because I wouldn’t know what to chant, no music because I wouldn’t know what music would help (although I later began to play sounds of rain because nostalgia), no words or rituals. I just sat cross legged, staring at the wall (although, I would bow before and after because it helped to have a beginning and an end to the practice). It’s probably worth mentioning that I appropriated a few things from some other cultures that I had no business appropriating. I didn’t know this was problematic at the time, but I learned to know better and put away all the extra things that I was not a part of, but continued the practice.

At first it seemed difficult and fruitless, but over time it became easier and eventually I began to see things in a different light. I thought I saw things as they really were, and there was this really strong sense of euphoria when I realized I could abandon the things that made me unhappy and I didn’t have to live in the past. I could be myself and actually understand what that meant. I began to feel whole again. Nature brought me contentment—I know it sounds silly, but I could feel the life around me when I went for walks in the trees. I felt like a real living, breathing part of the world; connected to everything in a way that I hadn’t felt since I was a child.

I went days, months, almost a whole year without a panic attack and laughed every day. I was getting better, this was really happening and I could scarcely believe it.

Then something happened. A few things happened, actually, around the same time and any one of them could have been the thing that did it—but it shattered my illusions of peace and contentment. I was wrong. I hadn’t been dealing with pain, I hadn’t been enlightened, and I wasn’t putting mind over matter. It was just another technique to lie to myself and stifle the memories. I went back and read the things I had written at during that timespan and realized how nonsensical it all was. I was just making things up as I went with no rhyme or reason so that I didn’t have to listen to myself. I still consider doing a massive clean-out of most of my old entries, but I think it’s useful to remember where I came from. (I still meditate, but for different reasons.)

The panic set back in again, worse than before and with no warning signs, the connection I felt had been severed and I felt more separated from other people than ever before. Things got so bad that I began feeling suicidal again for the first time since I was a teenager. I could feel my instinct to keep myself alive get slowly drowned out by the desire to disappear. Then something else happened.

I told a friend about my traumatic experiences as a child and teenager. They took me out for a beer. I went home feeling a little better.

Nothing is easy.

Reach out.


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“Be realistic! Can’t you just, for one second, be realistic?
What that actually means is, ‘See reality my way OR DIE!'”
Dylan Moran

There’s a certain brand of pessimism that I can’t stand and I see it everywhere. I’m probably just as guilty of it as the next person but I’m going to rant about it anyway. It’s the kind of pessimism that hears something like this:

“Do what you want. Follow your dreams. Do what you love.”

And feels the urge to interject with something like this:

“I hope you like flipping burgers for the rest of your life”

As if all dreamers are idiots! As if chasing your dream is a fools errand and those that follow their hearts desire have no common sense! Fuck. That. Noise. You know why? Because I doubt anybody ever got what they wanted with that attitude. Of course there will be some bumps along the way. As the old adage goes, “Nothing worth having is easy to get.”  If you lose hope, you lose the game. While I’m at it–what the hell is wrong with us that hope seems a childish and unproductive thing?

Here’s what I think is going on: people know that living life how you want doesn’t always lead to happiness and therefore behave as though it never does. People know that the instant gratification crazed parts of our brains don’t always lead us to the right place and so behave as though that part of them is trying to sabotage their lives (it really isn’t, I promise). Of course you have to keep it under control but it took me twenty years to realize that it isn’t evil or deceitful. In fact, it’ll make ya feel good if you let it.

But when I say, “Do what you want,” there are those that say, “That’s not always a good idea.”
If you’re so damn smart and introspective then you should be able to read between the lines and know that I’m not advocating rampant hedonism or complete disregard for the rest of human-kind. Why does everything have to be taken at face value? Why do these people insist on dealing in absolutes all the time? No, I’m NOT being unreasonable. No, I’m NOT assuming you’re a mind reader.

That’s the cool thing about being human. We can see things objectively. Our ability to switch in and out of the lizard brain is why we’re so advanced as a species (relatively speaking).

I’m going to say the same thing two different ways and you tell me which one you think is better (don’t actually tell me, because I won’t answer):

Be yourself and do what makes you happy.
Be yourself but only when circumstances permit it.

That’s not how it works?

It works how I SAY IT WORKS

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