“A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future”
– Albert Einstein
One of my favourite television series and subsequent films, for a little downtime relaxation, is Sex and the City – the story tells of the love trials and tribulations of one Carrie Bradshaw and her three closest women friends. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s quite a funny programme and though light, also touches on some of the more serious societal phenomena that we experience today.
One of the scenes in the film is a conversation between Carrie, the main character, and her friend Charlotte. Charlotte, throughout the series, had been reproductively challenged and is now miraculously expecting a baby. Carrie is concerned about her friend who, though being usually physically active, has stopped running and when she queries Charlotte about it, Charlotte replies with the following statement “I have everything I want, nobody gets everything they want. I’m afraid that something bad is going to happen”
In this scene Charlotte is projecting forth fearful thinking that is coming from the inside as, in that moment, there was nothing for her to be afraid of. Thought is simply a tool that helps us navigate through our environment but, we have learned to create fears for ourselves, fears that we are projecting onto future outcomes even when, to all accounts and purposes, there is no reason in the moment to be having that fearful thinking. But that fearful thinking around a future outcome will make us unhappy in the present moment.
This scene describes a “problem” that many of us face. We are taught from an early age that our happiness is dependant on outside circumstances, other people, the fruition of a goal, the accomplishment of a task, etc. and we build up a belief system around that.
What’s important to realize is that a belief is nothing more than a thought around which we have gathered proof to reinforce it and make it into what would seem to be a truth.
But what we see is what we get!
For example, if you see people as a general rule as being bad, then most of the time people will be bad, or rather your perception will be that people are bad. In clearer terms, you will notice the “bad” more than you will notice the “good” and vice versa, if you consider that people are generally good, then you will notice the “good” in people more than the “bad”.
Of course, in both cases, you may have the occasional surprise, but those would be the exceptions to the rule, wouldn’t they?
Some years ago, there was a study carried out on two brothers. They were followed during their childhood and into young adulthood. What’s interesting is that one of the brothers felt that he’d had a lovely childhood, a very happy one while the other felt that he had led a miserable existence and had somehow been cheated out of his happiness, though they had been brought up by the same parents in exactly the same conditions.
So, how can two brothers brought up in the same family in the exact same conditions, have two such opponent viewpoints? The answer is simple. Perspective, or thought.
Where one, looking back on his childhood memories saw happiness, the other, looking back on his childhood memories saw unhappiness.
Many studies are done on the DNA and the genetics of the human body and how they affect our psychology. But we have got the paradigm the wrong way round. Thought is nothing more than an electrical impulse in the body that we, as human beings, have the ability to verbalize. It is these electrical impulses that affect our brain and body chemistry, not the other way round as we are often led to believe. For, if it were true, that the DNA and genetics and brain and body chemistry were responsible for our “feelings” of happiness or unhappiness, then our happiness would automatically be limited from each person to another.
This is simply not true. Recent studies have come to shed light on the fact that happy people are healthier than unhappy people, that the “happy” feelings affect the body chemistry in a positive manner making those people healthier – that seems fairly obvious and full of common sense.
The fact is, happiness is unlimited. The only obstacle to our happiness and well being is our own thinking. Recognizing that is all we need to do. Accepting our thoughts as being nothing more than thoughts is all we need to do. But as we are taught in our culture that happiness is found outside of ourselves, we get busy looking for it, simply because we’re not aware that it is already there.
And so, as Charlotte who was expecting a happy event, we become afraid when things go “too far in the direction that we would hope for.” We become afraid that the bubble will burst, and that things will start to go wrong. We become afraid that we won’t achieve the outcome that we are hoping for and believe is necessary for our well-being.
Of course things may go wrong and I’m not insinuating for a moment that happy and sad events don’t exist. But the knowledge that it is our thinking creating a reality that can be either “happy” or “unhappy” is the key to remaining in a sense of peace, even in the worst of circumstances. Even in great sadness or extreme joy, we can live in a sense of peace. That doesn’t, in any way, mean to reject those feelings but rather to accept them for what they are in the knowledge that we are living in the feeling of our thinking and, in time, “this too shall pass”
To quote George Pransky :
“Whatever thought you have tomorrow that really troubles you, will not trouble you as much at some time in the future. If you knew that at the time, imagine what a difference it would make. The principles is the answer to the “how do I know?” at the time. As you understand at a deeper and deeper level, you recognize earlier and earlier “this too shall pass”, this is just thought and I’ll get over it. Then you get new thought and new thought presents the situation differently and in a nicer way. If you have a thought like “I haven’t accomplished enough in my life” you may have a new thought that says “what is enough, how do you define enough?” You might have the thought “actually I have accomplished something” but all of these thoughts are transitory too” – George Pransky, Tikun Conference “New Discoveries In Psychology That Make Well Being More Accessible ”
What I have learned through the Three Principles is that my peace of mind is unconditional and independent of whatever happens to be going on around me.
Realizing that the condition of happiness is unlimited consists of breaking the learned habit of a lifetime.
Our thinking can sometimes appear very real, it’s often hard to separate out what is happening on the outside from what is happening on the inside and the more we are in a negative, low state of mind, the more difficult it can be to see that.
But the more we become aware of the nature of thought, the more rapidly we see what is really happening and the more rapidly we find ourselves easing back into that sense of unconditional love and well being.
And so we can see clearly through the self-created imaginary bubble that we are so afraid will burst. The bubble is nothing more than insecure, fearful thoughts that, with past proof to back it up, has become real in our minds, causing us to experience feelings of stress and even anguish.
I used to be very afraid that nothing good would ever last. It is in fact reassuring to know that everything is transitory.
We are, very simply, sparks of infinite energy encased in a finite shell, with the ability to experience our thinking in the way that we choose to. Every day is as a fresh new blank page and on that page we can choose to draw whatever we like. We can draw beauty or we can draw ugliness but the fresh new page is infinite in possibility.
To quote the Dalai Lama, “There is no evil other than your own bad thoughts. The real enemy is not outside, but inside”