When I look around, I see plenty of people who are proof that it’s not only possible to combine love and success. I see that it is exactly the pursuit of their passion that is being rewarded. I am not talking about celebrities, I believe those are another story. I am talking about pioneers of happiness. I am talking about a woman building tiny houses and Hobbit Holes and renting them out via airbnb. I am talking about a family who turned their suburban backyard into an urban homestead where they sell their harvest, host classes and concerts. I am talking about opening our minds and creating our own sources of income instead of trying to pick from the menu of available jobs, and trying to fit in.
Don’t get me wrong: If you are happy with where you are, and that happens to be a career „off the menu“, then I am not saying that is wrong or less worthy! Remember, I am all about happiness these days. If your life makes you happy, you’re already where you need to be. It takes all kinds of people. It is those of us who cannot find our happiness in the available selection that need to start understanding that the fact that we will never be able to find it there does not mean there isn’t any happiness for us in the world. OK, I am obviously talking about myself here but I believe I am not the only one.
Here’s what I think: if you’re like me and your kind of happiness just doesn’t seem to be on the menu, the key to finding it is looking at what you feel is missing in the world. Stop waiting for someone else to fill in those blanks. That’s what you came for! I believe that we carry the blueprint for the place where we fit in within us. Why would we feel like there are things missing in this world if not to take on the task of filling in those missing pieces?
That was one of my biggest misunderstandings ever since I left the beaten path (school, university) and tried to find my place in the world: I kept trying to fit in, trying to find a work place where I’d be happy. I was always trying to be that person that I thought was needed. I either couldn’t make that work or if I did, it left me exhausted. I was at times deeply unhappy because I felt like I didn’t recognize myself in the world. I stayed at work places that didn’t feel right because I couldn’t see myself being happy anywhere else, either. I thought I was too picky, unwilling and/or unable to adjust. Until the thought occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t here to have someone else assign me a spot. Maybe I should create my own space.
This idea both fills me with relief and it terrifies me. I do not come from a line of entrepreneurs, I am used to doing as I am told. While that may have worked in school and at university, I find that it does not work anywhere else. At the end of the day, you eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time. I believe that the way to start is by following happiness to see where it leads us. Since what makes us happy is highly personal and individual, that means entering uncharted territory. There may not even be a destination that is defined from the beginning of our exploration. However, there are those who are doing it already. Whenever we lose faith in our mission, we can turn to those pioneers of happiness. Not to do as they do but to get the encouragement and inspiration we need to for our own journey.
I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now again. It was much needed but it also sent me off right onto an emotional roller coaster. I think it’s the ego feeling threatened and trying to trick you into feeding it. And it’s also the ego that’s telling you „No, no, this time you’ll be fine. No need to worry about any drama because you’re self-aware now.“ Well, guilty as charged – I walked right into that one.
Although there is tons of wisdom in The Power of Now, and much quote-worthy material, there was one paragraph that spoke to me especially when reading it this past weekend. Its content was this:
When there’s an inner conflict between your thoughts and your feelings, it’s your thoughts that are the (relative) lie, and your feelings that are true – also relatively speaking. True in the sense that they are the body’s reaction to a situation, telling you how you really feel about something at a given moment.
Naturally, I read that paragraph after I let myself get into that major argument with my fiancé. It was as if I’d followed the instructions for How To Be Unaware And Completely Identified With The Ego to the letter.
Afterwards I could backtrace the detonation of the emotional firecracker to this: we were having a conversation, and Peter questioned something that we in my mind already had agreed on. That happens. A lot. Unfortunately, the next thing also happens. Everytime Peter is having second thoughts about something that is already set in stone in my mind. What does happen is, that I freak out, and if I’m being completely honest, the feeling that surfaces is this:
This man is ruining my life with his constant doubt. All he sees is obstacles, and if I let him say no to everything, it will literally be ball and chain when (if?!) we do get married. I’ll be the prisoner of his fears, not his partner. I can’t allow him to do that to me!
But the whole thing would just be too easy if I allowed that feeling to exist, right? So what do I do? Right. I let my mind speak its, well, mind. And that line of thinking goes something like this:
You know that that is not true. That is only your view of Peter, which is tainted by your own fears. Your lack of faith in the fact that no one else can control your fate but yourself. It’s stupid to believe that he could have that kind of power. Feeling this way is unfair to him.
And you know what? My mind is 100% right. That’s where this whole thing gets messy though. For what am I supposed to do with that? I choose, as I more often than not do, to agree with my logic (since it is true), which effectively means that I forbid myself to feel the way I do. The outcome this Sunday was me standing in the kitchen, alternating between yelling at Peter and crying into the waffle batter. Because, you know, it was Sunday and I like fancy breakfast on the weekend, so the part of me that had decided to not feel what I was feeling decided it was a good idea just to go ahead and do that waffle breakfast.
But (as I would read later): when your own thoughts and feelings are in conflict with each other, the thought is the lie, and the feeling is the truth. So, no matter how logical my thinking was, no matter how right and „above“ the childishness of my fear it was – my feeling did not care.
When things where at their worst then and there, I suddenly saw myself in the situation, and saw that it was exactly the kind of drama I didn’t want anymore, and that I even had thought I wasn’t capable anymore because, you know, I knew. I thought „How the hell do I get out of this?“ I got two answers. My ego said this:
You have to win this thing. The only way to end this is to make Peter acknowledge that you are right. Then, and only then are you done with this. You cannot back down now that you’ve gone this far.
That is pretty much me in a nutshell in any kind of argument or even discussion or debate. That’s one of the reasons I don’t enjoy arguments or discussions or debates. I find it exhausting to feel like I have to be right, yet I inevitably get this feeling when I’m in a discussion/debate/argument. It’s like you tell yourself, „ok I’m playing this game but I can only let myself play it if I remember the whole time that it’s a game“. Of course, once you start you want to win, and then you’re already in the game.
I have fallen for this trap many times. I have seen the destructive outcome. Every time. There is no „win“ because that is not really what this is about. Because it’s not me against Peter (or him against me). Sure, you can destroy someone with hurtful words. But that doesn’t mean you win. Maybe it was having consciously thought about this, having observed myself, having read about it, maybe it was something completely different. Whatever it was, something opened me to the truth this time, when I was standing there, crying, and wanting to get out of this, and feeling my ego’s craving to win this argument at any cost. The truth was – is – this:
There is a way out. It is there at any moment for you. You can leave this situation by acknowldging that that is what it is: your situation. This is not you. There is nothing that says you cannot admit to Peter, and more importantly: to yourself, that you’ve just now realized that. You don’t need to follow through on this argument. And you’re right, it could last forever. Because it’s not about what Peter said or did. It’s about you feeling threatened by something he said, and resenting that feeling. And that won’t go away, it wouldn’t even if you did make Peter admit everything was his fault.
So I did that. The relief of exiting the drama came instantly, and that to me is the beauty and the truth of The Power of Now: no matter where we are in life, how deep we’ve gone into the narrative that our ego/ our intellect has fabricated to persuade us to do their bidding – it is never too late or too complicated to leave. There is no repercussion for admitting that we’ve made mistakes, even huge ones. We are allowed to and capable of freeing ourselves if we want to.
Later, I asked Peter what he thought I should have done. How I should handle a situation like this (and trust me, there will be more), so that things don’t go so wrong from the get go. His suggestion:
Say how you feel. Honestly.
He was right. As soon as we realize that we’ve gotten lost in the story, identified with a thought or a feeling, we are shining a light on them, seeing them and exposing them for what they are. And we realize that they are not us. By admitting to ourselves how we do feel, and maybe even confiding in someone we trust, we are accepting the truth of what is at that moment. It is the only alternative, if we don’t want to fight a battle we can’t win: us against ourselves. It is love.
Aaand there’s more. I think this post will just be an attempt to recap this summer so far.
We celebrated the summer solstice with a bunch of friends (old ones and new ones) at our house. Since most of them came from Gothenburg and Stockholm, they stayed for several days and we had a little bit of a collective thing going, which was cool. Lots of barbecuing, talking, hiking, even swimming in the lake (the Swedish summer has been more of a „summer“ this year, but that weekend was great). Plus we made flower wreaths, which I am mentioning because it somehow was really important to me to follow this Swedish tradition. As it turned out, my friend La who was coming felt the same way. Maybe it’s because we’re German … Anyway, as we were standing in a ditch that day, picking flowers for our wreaths, a farmer drove by and held up seven fingers. Luckily we’d read The Six Bullerby Children, otherwise we might not have understood that he was trying to tell us that we’re supposed to pick seven flowers and put under our pillows that night to dream of our future husbands. I don’t know if La dreamed of him, but she seemed to have found the guy alright. 🙂
A few weeks later I went to Stockholm to buy a car. Peter’s uncle is really into cars, but when he bought his third, his wife insisted that he had to get rid of one. Lucky for us, who were looking for one. One that might be better for someone as sensitive to magnetic fields and electrosmog as Peter. The trip felt like a mini-vacation. It might have something to do with Peter’s aunt and uncle having a jacuzzi in their backyard … Plus the stop on my way home at some friends‘ „house“. I say „house“ because they actually live in a church, and a pretty cool one, too.
And then, the big one: after several weeks of feeling like my days at my job are nearing their end, everything happened really fast. Last week I suddenly had the impulse to quit talking about that I need to move on but start looking. I usually don’t even look at job postings. I believe that most of them are usually already given away within an organization and they just put them out as a necessary formality. But the task of trying to figure out where I’d want to go seemed to daunting at that moment, so I decided I’d at least see if one particular institution had anything interesting up (I really have been wanting to work at this place ever since I moved here). Well, they did. No big deal, it was ONLY MY DREAM JOB???!!! Friday I had a talk with by bosses, and they confirmed my feeling that we’d come to the end of the road (the reason being lack of money, not lack of work). I don’t know how many partings go this cordially – but I can recommend it. All three of us shared the feeling that the saddest part about this would be not working together anymore. (I will really miss all of my colleagues.) They too thought I would be perfect for the job I saw (I told them about the ad), and that this somehow was not an ending but a beginning.
I spent most of Monday afternoon writing my application for said DREAM JOB. The hardest part for me in the process of applying for work is usually letting go once I’ve sent them, not fretting over how I maybe should have wrote this instead, what if I left out something important, should I have told the recruiter more about myself when I called to ask about the job … Not quite there yet, I need to proof-read (and have someone proof-read). Still, whether this job is meant to be or not – something new WILL come – and I am excited about that.
I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of life lately. Probably because the The Path Into The Light seminar is coming up soon. While a part of me says, „You’ll find out there, so why even bother now“, another part knows that I am already on my way, have been for a while, and that the seminar won’t be THE answer to everything (we already know it’s 42 anyway, right 😉 ). So I do wonder, not just about the meaning of life in general, but obviously about the meaning of my life.
Here’s some random notes on what I’ve come up with so far:
1. The meaning of life in general is to be happy. Not all the time, obviously, but I do believe that deep down inside, that’s what we’re all striving for – happiness. That part seems fairly banal. The trick, I guess, is the next step. Believing that it is possible to be happy. That seems to be the part where things go wrong when they do.
2. I have been denying myself a lot of happiness because I can be very judgmental. (See my Yoga Girl book review.) I am trying to change that by promising myself to allow myself to like the things I do. That means becoming aware of the inner censor, the voice that tells you why the things you feel are wrong. Do you have a voice like that? For me working on this inner censor means becoming aware of the fact that there is a conflict – that I like one thing but also have feelings of guilt about liking it. Usually, my feelings of guilt come from some set of beliefs that aren’t originally my own but that I’ve adopted/inherited from others. And 100% of the times I like something I also feel guilty about, I have good reason for liking it.
3. An good example of how my inner censor is holding me back is that I am the kind of person who really enjoys a lot of different things, and I can be interested in many things, and yes: I can be good at most of the things I set my mind to. I don’t just have one thing I am passionate about and devote all my (spare) time to, nor is there one thing that I naturally excel at, so that it would be obvious that this is my calling. But somewhere along the road I got the idea that that is how things work: you get to be good at one thing, and you get to really like one thing. You have to decide, let everything else go, and focus on this one thing. I could get really worked up over how I seemed to be all over the place, not being able to make up my mind and dedicate myself to one thing. Until the other day it never even occurred to me that I am allowed to enjoy AS MANY THINGS AS I DO – writing, baking, photography, sewing, dancing, gardening, meditating, cooking, yoga, knitting, embroidery, film-making, … If the point is to master a craft, then I will obviously not be able to do that the same way a person could who puts all their time and effort into one craft. But if the point is to do things that make me happy, then why not simply be happy – and be grateful that I have the gift of having many things in my life that make me happy?! It seems so obvious now, but as long as my mind was limited by this belief set that you can only have one passion, one talent, I never even looked at it that way.
Getting down to business with this inner censor seems to be key to this whole happiness thing. And those of you who are into mindfulness and/or spiritual teachings are probably familiar with this concept – that we are not our thoughts and feelings but really the observers of them but that we are often unaware, and act as if we were identical with our thoughts, feelings, etc. For those of you who aren’t already into this „stuff“, I can highly recommend Eckhart Tolle (and I think I’ve done that before here on the blog). I find it makes life a lot easier = happier.
So for now I’m working on (gosh, that sounds hard but it’s work AND it’s not hard – another contradiction in terms according to my inner censor/know-it-all) just doing what I love as much as possible – whatever that may be. I will share as much of it here as I can.
Have a great Sunday, everyone!