You know that moment – opening scene of a movie, a family is happily driving to Grandma’s house for the holidays – their favorite song comes on the radio and they all chime in, singing, giving each other sweet glances in the rear view mirror, cherishing each other. Everything seems so perfect, and then…
In the theater with your fistful of popcorn, you get a knot in your stomach knowing that someone or something – a mass murderer, mac truck, natural disaster, mythical monster – is about to disturb the peace.
Shame researcher Brene Brown talks about this, that when everything is going well WE FEEL VULNERABLE. I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me with anxiety and fears about life going WELL (no really I cant tell you, total HIPAA violation;).
One of my yoga students recently came to tears when realizing, “it’s like I’ve been stopping myself from being happy.” As much as we are in pursuit of seemingly elusive happiness and contentment, we stop ourselves from feeling it all the time.
You may not think this is you. These thoughts are sneaky little buggers though, so lets do a check. Any of these sound familiar?
“I knew things were going too well!”
“Last time I felt this good [insert horrible thing] happened right after.”
“How can I be happy when there is so much suffering in the world?”
All of these are examples of us putting a lid on ourselves, pulling the happy rug right out from underneath our own feet. AND FOR WHAT? Even if sh*t is about to hit the fan, you’d be better off savoring a few moments of peace beforehand than tensing up for a mighty blow. You’re more resilient when you’re flexible, open and connected to the support around you – which is how we often feel when we are happy. (Side note, if you’ve felt rigid, tense, closed and happy, please email me, I want to study you).
As far as not being happy because there is suffering, you might as well jump in a pool of bacteria and swallow as many buckets of scum as you possibly can right now. Because people are sick out there and how DARE you be healthy while everyone else is sick (I maintain that we need a font for sarcasm). Seriously, will you being unhappy help them? Will you being sick help those dealing with illness? No.
Today, I challenge you to LET YOURSELF BE HAPPY and NOTICE HOW F*N SCARY IT CAN BE. Do you wince when you or a friend says, “Ah, this is great! I feel wonderful! Everything is going really well!” Say these things aloud, in front of others and you might get hit with a slew of well-meaning superstitions, modifications and justifications. See if you can stay in the appreciation and let it get stronger than the fear.
As I write this it is a beautiful day. I’m on my laptop, seated out by the sparkling Lake Merritt in the sun. And you know what? I’m kinda scared someone is going to run by and steal my laptop – just rip it right out of my hands! It happens, you know! And especially to people who are having a wonderful day! (Someone PLEASE… Create the font!)
So what can we do to quiet this incessant fear? Cheryl Strayed talks in her book of Wild about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail — over a thousand miles — ALONE, and having to fight off fears on a moment to moment basis. Bears, rapists, you name it, these things would flood almost any reasonable person’s mind in her situation. What did she do? Push it out. She pushed the fear away.
Now I am not suggestion you ignore your intuition. However, when something awful ISN’T happening, you can remind yourself – IT IS NOT HAPPENING! Remember, our bodies keep the score of our thoughts and if you are feeling frigid and fearful well, that’s just not fun. Uncomfortable. NOT happy.
I leave you today with a mantra, a perspective, a superstition-biting cure for the unhappies. Look around you RIGHT NOW. What is happy about your life? What is going well? Is there any emotion – joy, appreciation, love – that you are holding back out of fear? Just for today, just for RIGHT NOW, let a little bit of that flow. If you need to knock wood before you do, fine, but I don’t think there is any God, Goddess, force (outside of the power of your belief, which can indeed be potent) that would want to punish you for not having OCD.
Let the good times flow! Roll with it and enjoy whatever moments of bliss come.. surrender into them like you’re biting into a nice warm croissant…
Okay thats enough out of me today. Sending love & bright things your way,
Pharell Williams doing his happy dance