Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Happiness Game

Do you want to be happy?  Your answer is probably "Yes!"  But most people don't take their happiness in their own hands.  They let other people and external circumstances dictate their happiness to a large extent. 

Here's what Michael Singer has to say about happiness in "The Untethered Soul:"
"Every time a part of you begins to get unhappy, let it go....No matter what happens, you can choose to enjoy the experience.  If they starve you and put you in solitary confinement, just have fun being like Gandhi.  No matter what happens, just enjoy the life that comes to you....[W]hat's the benefit of not doing it?...What good does it do not to have fun?  It doesn't change anything.  In the end, if you stay happy, you win.  Make that your game, and just stay happy no matter what," (p. 144). 

Stuff will happen all the time that we can use as reasons not to be happy.  We can blame our unhappiness on any number of things.  But really it's our choice.  You could lose a job, end a relationship, have no money... or more trivial things like miss a flight, be stuck in traffic, late for an appointment.  Stuff happens all the time.  You could look at it as reasons to be unhappy.  The Universe is out to get you.  Other people are out to get you.  But that's not true.  You could, instead, choose to look at all these things as opportunities to practice your newfound happiness and peace.  You could use them as reminders that no matter what happens, nothing can shake you.  YOU are still at peace and YOU are still enjoying life.  As Singer said, "What's the benefit of not doing [this]?"


We humans like to control stuff.  We like to think that we do control stuff.  We like to think that we know best.  And that we know how things should be.  For not just our benefit, but everyone else's too.  That's why our happiness is usually conditional.  We're happy as long as things go our way.  We're happy as long as things happen as we think they should.  But as we've all figured out, things don't always go our way.  Things don't always happen as we think they should.  Therefore, we're unhappy a large part of the time. 

"You want to say that as long as this doesn't happen, or as long as that doesn't happen, then you're willing to be happy.  That's why it seems like it is out of your control.  Any condition you create will limit your happiness.  You simply aren't going to be able to control things and keep them the way you want them," (p. 142).    

"Billions of things could happen that you haven't even thought of yet.  The question is not whether they will happen.  Things are going to happen.  The real question is whether you want to be happy regardless of what happens.  The purpose of life is to enjoy and learn from your experiences.  You were not put on Earth to suffer," (p. 143). 

We were not put here to suffer.  That's not why we came.  That's an excellent reminder.  Sometimes I know I've thought that I was supposed to suffer.  I was supposed to deal with people leaving me, not being there for me, not loving me.  That was my "lot" in life.  What have you thought your "lot" in life is? 

Whatever I've thought I was supposed to suffer about, and whatever you've thought you were supposed to suffer about, we were wrong.  We're not supposed to suffer.  We choose to suffer.  We choose to be unhappy and fixate on things we can't control.

It all seems so silly now.  Why would I constantly think about something that made me unhappy?  Why would I let that thing, whatever it was at the time, keep me from being happy and enjoying my life?  It's that ego.  That ego and it's false belief that we need to be protected.  We need to be protected, so we close our hearts.  We try to control everything and everyone so that we won't be hurt. 

That's how humans create their own suffering.  We all do it.  But we can also all choose to let go, at any time.  It doesn't matter how long you've been suffering.  You can choose to stop, and let it all go right now.  Just let it go.  There's nothing we need to control.  Just enjoy life.  No matter what. 

"Your mind will tell you that it's not reasonable to stay open when these things happen.  But you have limited time left in your life, and what's really not reasonable is not to enjoy your life....You just relax your heart when it starts to tighten.  You don't have to be outwardly glowing all the time; you're just joyful inside.  Instead of complaining, you're just having fun with the different situations that unfold," (p. 145). 

"The key to staying happy is really very simple.  Begin by understanding your inner energies.  If you look inside, you will see that when you're happy, your heart feels open and the energy rushes up inside of you.  When you aren't happy, your heart feels closed and no energy comes up inside.  So to stay happy, just don't close your heart.  No matter what happens, even if your wife leaves you or your husband dies, you don't close.  There is no rule that says you have to close," (p. 144). 

I love that last sentence, "There is no rule that says you have to close."  Don't we all think that we should be upset if such and such happens?  Like if someone close to us dies, certainly.  Or if someone is unfaithful to us or betrays us.  We're supposed to be hurt, upset, angry.  Right? 

But we don't have to be.  We choose to be.  If we want to be angry and upset for a while, it's our choice.  But there's nothing that says we have to be. 

I'm not saying (and I don't believe Michael Singer is either), that we're really supposed to let people take advantage of us, walk all over us, or use us.  Just let go though.  If we feel taken advantage of, we can either get irate, or we can let it go and move on.  Remember that it's our ego that wants to respond in that upset, offended manner.  Our ego takes stuff personally.  Nothing is personal. 

I found this very comforting and interesting.  I don't know if you've done this, but at times in my life I've looked to "societal norms" to figure out how I'm supposed to act.  When my boyfriend was still friends with his ex-wife, but assured me I had nothing to worry about, I looked to how others have responded, to how I should respond.  Should I be upset by this?  Should I be offended?  Or should I go with it and be ok?

I remember early in "part one" of our relationship, there were times I felt perfectly fine with his ex-wife.  And other times I wasn't so fine.  I knew then (whether it was subconsciously or consciously, I'm not sure), that the times I felt at peace, happy, and fine with things was when I was most living in Spirit.  And when I was not fine -- when I was upset, hurt, angry, or afraid -- that was obviously my ego and my fear. 

Since I didn't know how I was "supposed" to respond to such a situation, I talked to people.  I asked my friends and even my parents.  And nearly everyone I asked said they'd respond the same way (by being upset by the contact between my boyfriend and his ex-wife) -- that I had every right to ask him to stop communicating with her, because she was obviously upsetting our relationship.

People gave me this advice because it's how most of us think.  Most of us live in our egos.  We live in our fears.  And we relate to other people's fears and egos. 

Notice I said "nearly everyone" responded that way.  A few people I "knew" from a spiritual-based chat group (no one I knew in person) said they were still friends with exes and everyone got along great, was happy, and it worked.  Of course I discounted them and their advice because it wasn't what I wanted to hear.  It went against my ego and my fear-based beliefs. 

As we learn and grow in our lives we'll likely (hopefully) look back on past actions we've taken or old beliefs we've held and see how silly and wrong we were.  It can be easy to get into a blame and shame game... chastising ourselves for thinking/acting the way we did at that time.  I've caught myself doing this. 

This, yet again, is our ego.  Our ego doesn't like to be wrong.  Our ego doesn't like to look bad.  We made poor choices in the past?  Oh well, there's nothing we can do to change it now.  We're embarrassed of how we responded to a past situation?  Get over it.  So what?  We know better now.  We're all here to learn and grow.    

Back to being happy all the time... Of course I'm not saying don't be sad anymore.  Certainly things will happen that will make us sad.  But the key point I'm learning in all of this is the importance of letting go.  Letting go and appreciating, enjoying, and accepting what's happening right now.  Remember it's all for our good.     

"Affirm that all you want is to be at peace and to appreciate life.  You don't want your happiness to be conditional upon the behavior of other people.  It's bad enough that your happiness is conditional upon your own behavior.  When you start making it conditional upon other people's behavior, you're in serious trouble," (p.145). 

So how are you going to play your Happiness Game?  Are you going to let other people control your pieces and make moves for you?  Or are you going to play your own game?  Choose to be happy no matter what?   




  1. 'When you start making it conditional upon other people's behaviour, you're in serious trouble'. How many of us do this on a regular basis, thinking it's normal? We're so used to behaving like this (and everyone around us does the same, so must be the norm). I also love Singer's analogy of getting caught up in emotions and being dragged into these problems we create, to a watching a movie. It SEEMS so real, but if we can take a step back we realise other people aren't MAKING us feel upset or angry, it's our choice. As always this is so much easier in theory than in practice!

    1. I totally agree with you, Becks! This isn't something you can be like, "Oh, I get it now. Now I'll never suffer again and be happy ALL the time." It certainly takes effort and practicing again and again. And like you said, it's hard when everyone around us is acting the "normal" way.
      Thanks for reading! :)