April 2011

Discerning intelligence knows that happiness as a concept related to the future.  similiarly unhappiness is an idea.  To test this, make a simple experiement.  When you are experiencing suffering — mental suffering — notice that your attention is fixed on an image or a series of thoughts, a story.  Notice how the thoughts and images are dependent on a central idea, the idea of somebody– that is me– and the problem.  The suffering exists in the story, not in reality.  What is the suffering without the idea of me and the problem?

When we release the image of the central character on whom the problems depend, the problems naturally disappear.  The Buddha, upon awakening, is said to have remarked, “O, housebuilder, I have seen you; your ridge pole is broken.”  (A ridge pole is the main beam that attaches all other rafters to the roof of a house).  Seeing through the illusion of the central character breaks the ridge pole of the entire house of suffering.

Passionate Presence, Catherine Ingram

It’s been tough starting  the new job.  I’m used to knowing everything at work.  Being the go-to person and knowing everyone.  And instead I know nothing.  I know no one, and I’m pretty much useless.  It’s been a while since i started a job so i forget.  It freaks me out and makes me feel like i should give back my paycheque. 

The transition has been tough for my family too so there have been times when I’m so uncomfortable I want to crawl out of my skin.

I was reading Passionate Presence and it reminded me of “Just This”.  And I started thinking about just that. 

Like when we get uncomfortable we often tell ourselves grand stories about how our lives suck and people are jerks.  But if you can remind yourself it’s Just This, just the emotion you’re feeling in the present moment, then sometimes that makes it a bit more manageable. 

It’s not ALL these horrible things and ALL these awful people making my life miserable.  It’s Just This – me feeling frustrated at this moment.

Sometimes the emotions feel so powerful it’s like we’re going to drown.  But no one ever died from having an emotion.  And they actually shift and change pretty quickly. 

I might be squirming with discomfort right now but then I get distracted by something, or the emotion changes or I start talking to someone and before I know it, the whole scene is different. 

It’s Just This. Just This emotion, right now, and in the next moment it might be something different.  Or not.

Because when we sign up for Life, we get the whole set, a palette of emotions.  And as humans we get to experience each one at sometime in our life.  We don’t get to pick and choose the happy ones, we get to sample them all at some point. 

But the part we can count on is that we won’t feel them all at once.  It’ll be Just This, and then Just This, and on and on. 

So here I was squirming in discomfort.  Feeling frustrated and feeling fearful.  But when I was able to remind myself that it’s Just This, I was able to focus in on simply what was going on.  Not catastrophizing (I’ll lose my job i’m so useless!), not telling stories (this is huge!  this is awful!) but bringing it down to the one thing i was feeling in the moment.  

And really feeling it.  And then letting it pass.  And now it’s in the past.

Read an article on happiness today, here’s a good bit:

In fact, happiness is the single greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy. Only 25% of your job successes are predicted based upon intelligence and technical skills, though we spend most of our education and most companies hire based upon this category. The “silent 75%” of long-term job success is based upon your ability to positively adapt to the world: optimism, social support creation, and viewing stress as a challenge instead of as a threat…. when we are negative, our brains resort to “fight or flight” thinking about the world. But when we are positive, our brains “broaden and build” allowing us to create new patterns of success and widen the amount of possibilities our brains can process.