More and more I have come to understand that external events and outside circumstances cannot disturb us. This may be a very difficult concept to understand and accept when you first hear it, but it is true nevertheless. Nothing external can disturb us because the truth is we are only experiencing our own thoughts and stories—and almost never the reality that is before us. We think and tell ourselves stories about what events, people, and things mean and then we get to live our stories. This is our only experience.
We tell ourselves that this event is good, or this event means this or that, or that this event is something bad, dangerous, or life threatening and then we get to experience it. But the event is just the event—with no inherent or intrinsic meaning or value one way or the other. It’s just something that happens. And this holds true for all the events in life, including death (regardless of our preferences).
Shocking and challenging
When you first meet this concept, you will probably find it shocking and extremely challenging. I know because I still find it shocking and extremely challenging even though I’ve been contemplating this idea for quite a while now. It’s difficult to understand and accept because it’s such a radical shift in perspective from everything we’ve learned and were taught to believe about life. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
And if it is true, the consequences are very far-reaching and, fortunately for us, very liberating. If it is true, and my experience demonstrates to me that it is, it means for example that if you or I have a serious illness or any other so-called ‘serious’ problem or handicap we can be just as happy as someone who doesn’t have these so-called problems. Because it is only our interpretation of what is happening that can make us unhappy. Only the story we are telling ourselves about what our situations mean can make us unhappy. Because the truth is that at this very moment, no matter what our problem, we are still breathing, we’re still here, and Life still is. Our unhappiness arises the minute we compare ourselves to other people or to what we think should be happening or what we think we should be doing and feeling at this particular moment. But if we stop comparing, what’s left?
If we drop our thoughts about the meaning of what’s going on, what do we have? And I’m not talking about right or wrong here, but just about reality – about what is actually going on.
When I try to be present in this moment and let go of my thoughts about the meaning of what’s going on right now, the first thing I always notice is that suddenly it gets very peaceful. The second thing I notice is that there’s only me, here and now. And that’s about it. This moment is whatever is. The sun on my face for example. Or this moment, doing the dishes. Or this moment, gazing at the flowers in the vase next to me. Or this moment, sitting in front of my computer. Or this moment, going to work or talking to my neighbor.
That’s about it.
Plain and simple.
So yes, the radical truth is you and I can lead happy lives regardless of our situation. Because when we drop our interpretation of events, we find that happiness is our nature. Our natural state. It just bubbles up from within because it’s what we are. We may have been brought up to think otherwise, to think that our happiness depends on our health, on outside circumstances, on our good looks, or on the amount of money we have in the bank, but that’s just not true.
We can live happy lives regardless because happiness is our innermost nature. It has nothing to do with health, money or success. In fact, it has nothing to do with anything outside of us because we can only experience our own thoughts, which means nothing external can influence our happiness one way or the other unless we allow it to. Only our interpretations of what’s going on can influence our experience. That in fact is what your life experience is. Your life experience is your interpretation of what is going on. My life experience is my interpretation of what’s going on. And that means we have nothing to deal with but our own thoughts—and that nothing but our own thoughts can prevent us from living a happy life right this very moment.
Isn’t this a startling and wonderful discovery?
For more about this discovery, see my book “Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life” and try reminding yourself over and over again of this amazing concept: We have nothing to deal with but our own thoughts.
About Barbara Berger
American-born Barbara Berger is the best-selling author of “The Road to Power – Fast Food for the Soul” (published in 30 languages), “Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life” (published in 21 languages) and “The Awakening Human Being – A Guide to the Power of Mind”. Barbara's latest book, "Find and Follow Your Inner Compass – Instant Guidance in an Age of Information Overload" was released in the US and UK in late 2017. Her books are available on Amazon and other online sites. Barbara also works as coach, helping people around the globe come into alignment with their own true power. For more about Barbara see her Web site: http://www.beamteam.com
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