As you may or may not know by now, I was raised in a rather strict christian environment. And although lots of rules and ideas did not feel right and clashed with what I believed God to be, the essence of faith rang so true with me, that all the other things for a long time became secondary. Until it became apparent that my belief system created so much internal stress that life didn’t seem worth living anymore to the extent that I was contemplating suicide. Not good! I got counseling and got asked the most pivotal question of my life: ‘What do YOU believe?’ After having mulled over that question for two weeks, I still didn’t know and decided to let go of God.
At this point, the story becomes interesting. After another two weeks, I discovered that I may have let go of God, but that God had not let go of me. That which I experienced to be God was still present. Years have passed since and that which I used to call God is still with me. I’ve had quite some time to reflect on this presence and I did. I don’t know what to call it anymore, but this no-name experience is strong in me, always has been, and ever growing. I sometimes mockingly call it ‘The Force’, but that doesn’t cover it completely, or do it justice. I believe it is present in saints and sinners, that in some it is more developped than in others, and that development is a critical component of being happy, of feeling whole.
Everyone knows how it feels. It’s the love parents feel for their children, it’s the sense of heaven during really good sex, of awe when you see the sea for the first time, of connectedness when millions of bright stars are shining down on you. It’s the completely overwhelming presence of a wild and rapidly thundering waterfall, of the deafening silence on a mountain top. It is being moved by a piece of music, a good book, art, being touched by another human being, or by the wagging tail of your dog when she greets you at the door. It’s in the song of a bird and the flight of a bumblebee. It is what makes us feel alive and passionate about life, what gives us meaning and creates peace.
It is litterally all around. You can wait untill it accidentally hits you, or you can look for it. It takes focus, patience and perseverence, like any other training. It will not land you an olympic medal or some other tangible trophee. I say it’s even better, it’s something you’ve always dreamed of, we all have. As far as I’m concerned, it’s is the sexiest thing ever, it’s the one feature no one can resist. Happiness on demand. One simple exercise and it is yours.
All you need to do is open your heart and still your mind. And that sounds a hell of a lot more complicated than it really is. All it means is that you find the bright spot in everything you encounter. I said it’s a simple exercise, I didn’t say it would be easy. At first, it will be challenging, but I assure you there is an upside to everything. All you have to do is find it. That’s the exercise: to not give up until you have found what uplifts you and then focus on it for as long as it takes for your muscles to relax. Because that is what happiness is, it is the absence of stress or unvoluntary tension. We cannot feel good and stressed at the same time, they’re incompatible. With training, your happy muscle will grow. Like your tummy, it requires a lifelong exercise if you don’t want it to sag. If you stop training, it will wither and you will have to start all over again. If on the other hand, you are willing to go beyond the discomfort that is part of any beginning stage and keep practicing, you will see results real soon. And it will get easier. Not only will you find miracles in unexpected places, you will find more and more and each time you do the exercise it will take less effort to focus your mind and body into relaxation until you will feel relief almost instantly. Happiness is yours. Now that’s what I call an awesome deal.
photo by voltphoto.co.uk