Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Agitation and Happiness: Two great tastes that taste great together and all that....

Much of what we feel and how we feel is a choice. I sometimes forget that. And it pays to remember. Sure, we all have dreams, ideas, ideals, wishes, etc. And we must reconcile our wishes and dreams with reality and accept that no matter how hard we try, we won't achieve all of those goals. It's not our fault. It's not anyone's fault.

Life is just finite as are all our stories. They have endings. Whew. This sounds like a downer reading, doesn't it? But it's really not. This morning I'm thinking about endings. Sure, at the end of every fairytale we think "Yay, it'll be happily ever after for those two crazy kids." But it won't. We never see what happens after the "The End." But I'm sure if we did, we'd all see the disagreements, fights, and perhaps even dashed dreams. In the meantime, though, we would also see growth, acceptance, tolerance, and people building their lives (together or separately, that part doesn't matter). What matters is that we keep evolving and keep striving for what makes us happy. Sure, there will be endings, but for every ending there is a new beginning. And as long as we strive for our passions, we are golden.

The Ten of Cups talks of the ultimate joy of home, hearth, and family. In the Platonic Ideal of the card, you can sit back, look around at all your loved ones (two-legged, four-legged, whatever) and say, "Ahhh, my life it is complete." But, right after that pinnacle moment of satisfaction, you notice that there is a lump in your chair and it's making you just a bit uncomfortable. You have to change the way you're sitting. And once you shift, you notice that you're thirsty. So, then you get up to get a drink, and then you realize you have to go to the bathroom, so you need to do that. It leads to an endless series of "next steps." For every time we find ourselves fulfilled, some agitation pushes us onward. And that is not only okay, it's great!

That agitation in the midst of perfect contentment is what keeps things going. Otherwise, we would end up sitting completely still in all that happiness, and I daresay, we would stagnate. One day, it would get stale. Even the most compassionate, contemplative, meditative Buddha eventually had to get up to go pee.

It's not the agitation or the changes or the need to strive for the next challenge that makes things awkward or stressful, or unhappy. It's the value judgment we place on what we're doing. If we can be happy sitting still and looking at rainbows, that is fantastic. If what we want is a new challenge, that is terrific, too.

So, look to your life today. Find what is making you happy and celebrate it. If you are not happy, do some evaluation into what it would take to get you there. And then take at least one small step on that path. That's the point. We get to choose how we feel. We get to choose what we do about it. We get to choose how we move forward. And again, as long as we are moving forward toward something, it doesn't matter if other people think it's impossible. What matters is what we think and what we do about it.

And last, smile. I know, I know, if you are unhappy, smiling just feels painful. But, they say that the muscles moving in that direction actually helps change mood. And if you can't smile, do what the amazing Pema Chodron says she does. "If I can't smile, I try to at least turn the corners of my mouth up." (not an exact quote, but very close).

Relevant movie clip: Tucker: A Man and His Dream

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