Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happiness is Not on Layaway

“When I publish my book, I’ll be happy. When I marry a gorgeous guy, I’ll be happy. When I finish all my work, I’ll be happy.” When, when, when. I know I've written about happiness before, but now I'm deepening my understanding of it.

Lately I feel like I have a split personality disorder because there is the voice of my ego – the one that tells me I can only be happy once I achieve certain things – and then there’s the voice of love. I’m discovering another big lie I tell myself is happiness lies in the future. That happiness is contingent on the presence of certain things. Rev. Michael Beckwith refers to this as happiness on the layaway plan. I’m doing things now so I can be happy later.

What? How does that even make sense? By that token my happiness will always remain in the future, or like Abraham Hicks says, I’ll be happy for a second before I’m focused on my next “want.” What a horrible way to live. I mean, yes, I think it’s important to have goals and desires, but to always place my happiness in the future seems like a sad state of affairs.

I think this is the crux of living in the now because ultimately only “now” exists. If I constantly think I’ll be happy tomorrow, I will never be happy because tomorrow never comes, as my dad likes to say. There is only now.

I guess I’m waking up to the fact I can be happy anytime, in anyplace, during any situation. I’ve heard tale of extremely poor people who still seem incredibly happy and at peace. Those writing about the impoverished are often baffled as to why. “These people have nothing! They’re living in a shack! Why are they so happy?” I think this is it. They’ve learned the art of living in the now. They’ve learned the art of gratitude and appreciate. They understand happiness is in the present.

Tonight I also started contemplating the dangers of trying to “make” someone else happy. Is that even possible? Is that even something I want to strive for? It seems like an awfully burdensome road, constantly trying to make other people happy. It seems much wiser to just allow people to create their own happiness and hope I can come along for the ride. What a relief. To no longer believe I’m responsible for anyone else’s happiness. To recognize the best I can do is follow a moral code, learn from my mistakes, and apologize when I hurt someone. And really, that’s it. I am only responsible for my own emotions, and usually not even then.

I’m getting a little off track here but I guess I’m saying there is nothing in my future that will make me happier than I am now. I only think there is. Having said that, yes, it’s important to follow divine guidance and what my heart says because that puts me in alignment with my higher power, but I don’t have to wait to do that. I can move closer and closer to infinite love and peace each and every moment just by getting quiet. By expressing my innermost thoughts and feelings. Because when you come down to it, isn’t that what happiness really is? To feel love? Who says I have to wait?

I dream of a world where we feel happy now, where we feel peace now. A world where we understand happiness comes from gratitude and appreciation. A world where we reach up and grab the happy feelings because they are there for the taking. A world where we feel love both internally and externally.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Lie I Told Me

I’ve been lying to myself for quite some time now. I’ve believed something that is blatantly not true but I’m resentful it’s false. You see, I honestly believed if I was a good girl, if I behaved, I would get everything I wanted. I believed God was like Santa Claus who rewarded the virtuous and punished the wicked. If I ate all my vegetables and treated people with kindness I would get a Barbie Dream House. What do you mean that’s not true?

This belief could also be called “entitlement,” which is particularly insidious because it taints my relationship with a higher power. Entitlement coats the relationship with resentment. It enrolls me in a game no one else is playing.

I started thinking about a world where a Santa Claus God did exist. What it would look like and who I would be. Spoiled and selfish for one. All I would do is take, take, take. Ask for more from my higher power. There would be no love, there would be only ego. My ego would overcome everything, consume everything until ultimately it destroyed the world. Would I care about the environment? About other people? Probably not. Life would be about me and my desires and how they can be satisfied. I would only be good and kind as a means to an end.

Here is what I understand now. If life operated the way I wanted it to, where I could bargain with God, I would never find the divinity resting within me. I would never understand how we’re all connected. I would never move closer to the light. How can I merge with God if I feel a separation? That’s what “merge” means. No distinction. If God constantly resided outside of me I would never become enlightened because there would always be two entities: me and God. I’m not sure I’m making any sense but I guess I’m saying in order to move closer to the light I have to become the light. I have to become divine. I have to become my higher power and I cannot do so if I think I’m anything other than light, love and divinity. So really this Santa Claus God complex is just another ego construct.

Here’s the other thing I realized. I am gifted by the universe not because I’m a good girl who gives up her seat for the elderly, but because I am loved. My higher power loves me so much I am bestowed with the things I desire. That is the true meaning of a gift. It’s an act of love. I may be bargaining with my higher power but my higher power is not bargaining with me. HP just loves me and wants to show that love by giving me a gorgeous apartment in San Francisco, a job I enjoy and a plethora of friends. My higher power wants me to have what I want just because I’m loved. So the resentment I’ve been carrying around? The good-girl complex? They’re all for naught. Entitlement and Santa Claus are both lies.

Lastly I’d like to leave you with a saying a friend of mine has. He said when he asks his higher power for something he gets three answers: “Yes,” “Yes but not now,” or, “No but I have something better for you.” Nothing ever comes to me as a means of punishment. It doesn’t matter how well I behave. That’s not why I’m getting my heart’s desires. They are coming to me because I am knowingly or unknowingly riding a current of love.

I dream of a world where we stop bargaining for what we want. A world where we realize we do not control what gifts we receive. A world where we understand gifts are tokens of love, especially when they come to us from a higher power. A world where we let ourselves be loved just as we are.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Body is a Friend

On Sunday it occurred to me my body is my friend, not my enemy. For years I heard the expression, “The body is a temple,” but I never knew what it meant. It sounds so hokey. “The body is a temple.” Ok. Right. I’ll refrain from drugs and alcohol and make sure to eat my vegetables. Done. Except not done. Not only is it important what I put into my body but my attitude. For years my body and I have been locked in combat. I’ve tried to beat it into submission to give me rock hard abs and toned triceps. Not to mention clear skin and smooth hair.

For years I yelled at my body for everything: for being too flabby, for causing me pain, for not working the way I wanted it to. “Why can’t you just do what I want and look the way I want you to look?!?” I thought I had to beat up my body to show it who’s in charge. On Sunday it occurred to me I’ve been approaching this all wrong. My body is not an enemy to war with, but rather my closest ally. You see, it’s just responding to my cues. Packing on weight? It’s probably because I’m feeling afraid and want an extra layer of protection. Breaking out? It’s probably because my liver needs a good cleanse. Everything that happens in or to my body is a signal. A signal of what I’m doing. Of how I’m feeling. Even my sprained ankle comes down to direction. As in, moving in a new one. I sprained it and then two weeks later got the notice I was getting laid off. It’s like my body knew in advance I was about to start a new phase.

Everything is related. Everything is interconnected. My body is not separate from me. We are one and the same. It’s only doing its job. It’s not my body’s fault when I get a cold. It’s mine. “Fault” even is a little strong. It’s more like I did x, y, z and the repercussion is illness. Why did I get sick in the first place? Could it be because I’m overtired and craving a rest? Tada! My body orchestrates that.

On Sunday it occurred to me I need to start treating my body with respect. Not because it’s a sacred temple I enter every now and again to pay homage to the gods, but because it’s my best friend. It’s my closest companion. I love my body and so my body deserves to be treated with love. It deserves a good cleanse. It deserves rest. It deserves my attention. Instead of shouting over what my body is trying to convey, perhaps I can listen instead. What would that be like? Living in greater harmony with my body?

I dream of a world where we treat our physical selves with love. A world where we respect our bodies and treat them as friends. A world where we know our bodies are doing the best they can, following our lead. A world where we live in harmony with ourselves and each other.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Divine Timing

Today I was supposed to meet a friend of mine at 1 p.m. It didn’t happen. Everything took so much longer than I expected – my appointment, the bus, the walk. I sat fidgeting in my bus seat at 1:30 because, “Oh my god! I’m so late! He’s standing outside my apartment waiting for me!” I kept willing the bus to go faster, to not make all its stops. Every second counts dontcha know. And when I finally scampered to my door he told me it wasn’t a problem. That I arrived at the perfect time.
I have this thing about punctuality. In general I think it’s a good idea because I value my time as well as other people’s. But when the Universe puts roadblocks in my way, perhaps it’s ok. Like that time I missed the bus but caught the FedEx guy. Maybe when I’m running late and it’s not my fault (or even when it is) I can relax about it. I’m not advocating flakiness because Lord knows the quickest way to upset me is to flake out, but maybe I can move toward the middle way, as my friend says. Maybe I can learn balance. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be either uptight and anal or flaky space cadet.  

My “thing” with punctuality also applies on a macrocosmic scale. I have thoughts about when things “should” happen. Like how my business “should” be further along or my book “should” be in its final stages of design. Or even how at 26 I “should” be in a serious relationship.

February is a big anniversary month for me (I moved to San Francisco three years ago on Valentine’s Day), so I’m doing a lot of reflecting. I’m noticing the divine timing of it all and how my hang up just gets in the way of my happiness. I won’t say always, but I will say mostly.

I’ve used this example so much, but when I first moved here I wanted a job and an apartment right away. If that happened I wouldn’t have been able to drive across the country with my mom when she really needed someone. The divine timing of it all coalesced so my (now former) company hired me at the end of August with a start date after Labor Day. Perfect! Momma planned to move the week before because that’s when her lease started. If the company hired me any sooner, my mother would have been up the creek without a paddle.

I also think about the friends of mine I just saw in New Hampshire. My friend had a crush on a guy who was unavailable, to put it simply. She looked for love but no one matched her. Then her crush became available and now they’re engaged. I’m not sure why I’m bringing that up except to say her crush was worth the wait. She tried to make it work with other people but it never did. She wanted to be with someone but it just wasn’t right. Her match was unavailable. Now, she and her match are one of the cutest couples I’ve had the pleasure to witness.

I know oftentimes my ego gets in the way. I have big huge desires I want to manifest IMMEDIATELY but the universe works a little slower sometimes. It’s lining things up so I’ll really be able to enjoy the sweetness of my desires. Because honestly, anything less just wouldn’t do. The timing though? I have no clue. I think in this moment it’s enough to feel at peace where I am and to let the universe work its magic.

I dream of a world where we accept divine timing. A world where we surrender time to the universe. A world where we know things are being arranged for us just so, and any earlier we would feel dissatisfied. A world where we don’t rush anything and rather move in the ease and flow of life. A world where we stay present and feel at peace, resting assured everything is happening for our best interest.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.   

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Love is a Gift

This past week I was in New Hampshire visiting friends and seeing one of my personal heroes, Elizabeth Gilbert speak about her new book. During that time I came to realize just how much I seek love and approval from others. How someone else's approval is so valuable to me, I'm willing to do almost anything to get it.

In my last blogpost I wrote about perfection not equaling love. This week I'm still decompressing that notion, but instead of striving for perfection to gain love and approval, I don't want to make any mistakes so love and approval will be revoked. A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Here's a true story. My friends' bathroom is in their bedroom, so that means at night I had to tiptoe past their sleeping bodies ninja-style in order to use the toilet. I felt absolutely terrified of waking them up, so much so I considered whether I could hold my bladder until daylight. (I couldn't and didn't. That doesn't mean my heart didn't race every time I crossed the threshold of their doorway though.) I honestly wondered if I woke them up if they would like me any less. Would my love get taken away? Would they decide I committed an offense so grand as to be unworthy of their friendship? My response to that is, "Gurl, you trippin.'" But it's there. I felt that way. And it extends not just to friends but to strangers.

Sitting on the airplane flying back to SF, I asked my seatmates to get up multiple times so I could use the restroom. Each time I asked myself, "Do you really have to go? Can you hold it?" just because I don't want to inconvenience anyone. I want you to love me so much I'm willing to go to any lengths to get it. Silly Rebekah, don't you know love is given freely, it's not something you earn because you're a good girl? I guess I don't. I'm still overcoming my childhood notions that wearing the right clothes or saying the right things will "make" people love me. And I so desperately want people to love me. So much so that I consider not going to the bathroom. Poor me, poor everyone who contorts themselves just so they can feel loved. What would the world be like if we all experienced love and approval unconditionally? Beautiful, amazing, divine.

After going to the bathroom for the third time in two hours at my friends' apartment, I started journaling, thinking about the elements I can control. Obviously I can't continue to tiptoe through life trying my hardest to never make a mistake ever because that's impossible. What I can do is affirm, "I release my need for others' validation." Oh my goodness. The freedom. To be able to show up in  life as my authentic self, carefree and confident is the most amazing feeling. I cannot guarantee my friends will love me forever -- although I'd like to think they will -- but I can release my need for their constant approval. And I can work on the two relationships that will stay with me through the end of time: the one with myself and the one with my higher power.

Is there any mistake I can ever make that will result in making me no longer love myself? No. There's not. I may not fully believe that in this moment but I want to, oh how I want to. And it's possible, it's all a matter o training. It requires I look myself in the mirror and say, "Rebekah, I love you no matter what." If I say it often enough I will believe it. Affirmations are like that.

The other relationship, the one with my higher power, thankfully already feels full of unconditional love (thank God). I already feel loved probably because nine months ago I redefined my higher power and the relationship I have. I see the love the universe has for me reflected in a thousand ways. From catching all my flights on time and arriving early in New Hampshire despite the snowpocalypse in the Northeast, to getting job opportunities out of the blue. The more I see that love, the more it comes back to me. So honestly, I don't need to run around squawking, "Do you love me? What about you?" because there are two places where it's secured forever and always: myself and my higher power.

I dream of a world where we love ourselves unconditionally. A world where we understand love is not a prize, but rather a gift. A world where we no longer seek approval in the eyes of another and instead work on giving that to ourselves. A world where we allow ourselves to make mistakes because unconditional love will never be taken away. A world where we rest easy because we feel sheltered by the Supreme.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.