I first heard the expression "You can be happy or you can be right" from Wayne Dyer. When I heard that I couldn't imagine that that could be true. All my life I have equated being right with happiness. After all, doesn't it feel yucky to be wrong? Who likes being wrong?
It never occurred to me that being right didn't make me happy - it just made me feel things like smarter, superior, on the right team, or more morally correct.
These are all ego based things, and with all things that the ego needs, they can turn into monsters that must be fed endlessly. I may have felt a momentary sense of satisfaction, but I wasn't feeling the pure, exalted happiness that comes from tuning into love and a sense of oneness.
Despite my initial resistance, I've continued to think over this phrase and try to make sense of it. I've been pondering it and coming at it from different angles for years. And don't you know, I'm starting to realize - he's right!
When I'm angry with someone what I used to want was to feel validated in my anger. I wanted to feel that I was right to feel angry. And all of that focus on what someone did that made me angry only intensified my focus on the thing that made me angry!
I can now see that if I want to be happy, I have to remove my attention from the thing I don't like. So when someone does something that upsets me I ask myself what's more important, focusing on their behavior or looking for love, compassion and joy.
Once I stop focusing on why they were wrong to do or say what they did I allow in a lot of other thoughts. I remember that when people lash out, it's a projection of inner pain. When people are judgmental, it's a projection of their own self-judgement. And a lot of times people aren't even wrong - they're just not behaving in the way I want them to behave.
In order to be happy I have to let go of the need to control, because what can I control anyways other than my own feelings?
This point really came home for me this past Sunday. I went to a recreation area that's popular for hiking and sitting by the river. On this particular day it was busier than I've ever seen it. It was flooded with people and more were continually coming. I didn't know if I should stay - it was so crowded it defeated the point of having quiet time to commune with nature.
But what the heck - I'd see if I could get a parking spot. If I found one I'd take it as a sign that I was meant to enjoy this place. As I circled through the packed lot several other parking vultures circled with me. It was looking dire and I started to leave. But then as I passed the last aisle I saw a spot.
The last spot! Waiting there, for me! It really was meant to be.
I began backing up so that I could turn into the lane and get the spot on the end. It was obvious what I was doing, and then - AND THEN - someone ZOOMED in, cut me off and cranked their wheel to dive bomb into the spot! I've never seen anything like it.
I couldn't believe it. I sat there for a moment, dumbfounded. Did that guy really just do something so brazenly rude and selfish? What the fu - okay I'll stop here, you don't need to hear the inner monologue of curse words I was hurtling his way. Needless to say, I was irritated.
This felt like one of those examples of how rude and terrible people can be. I wanted to take this in as an example of why you can't trust people, why it's normal to feel irritated with people and why sometimes I AM RIGHT DAMN IT. He was RUDE. He was wrong! Grrraaaaaahhhhhhh!
As these thoughts began piling up it hit me - this doesn't feel good. There's nothing about being right in this scenario that feels good. And so I did something I never do. I let it go. I just let it go.
I decided it wasn't worth my happiness to think about. It wasn't worth my energy to linger in this place. It was over. What did I want to think about instead? What did I want to feel instead?
Now that's a question I don't ask myself enough, especially when I'm too busy contemplating how rotten people are out there stealing my parking spots.
What do I want to feel in this moment?
As I began to think about what made me happy - the fresh air, the birds singing, the blue sky, I began to feel lighter. And then I began to think about another phrase I've heard often - everything is working out for me.
I listened to the birds, breathed calm and deep and repeated, "Everything is working out for me." I began to consider that maybe he was meant to take that parking spot. After all, it was so busy, would I have even enjoyed myself? Or would I have been annoyed with the crowds and the noise? Maybe he was actually doing me a favor. Maybe everything really was working out for me.
I thanked the man for showing me that the rec area was so crazy people were acting like ravenous parking madmen, and no, I would not have enjoyed that much insanity while trying to be peaceful and quiet by the river.
Thank you. Everything is working out for me.
I decided then to drive through the tiny little gold rush town just to see if I wanted to hang out there. As I pulled into "town", AKA a bar and an ice cream shop, the street was also flooded with cars and people. This was just not going to happen.
So I decided to drive on and enjoy the back roads. I wouldn't sit by the river, but I could enjoy the fresh air and quiet in a different way. I wasn't exactly sure which way to go, but I knew that somehow I could go a back way and connect back to the main highway.
As I drove along I began to relax and enjoy the feeling that I was right where I was supposed to be. I came down to Orange Blossom Road and suddenly everything opened up. I looked down and saw a river outlet. It looked like you could walk down there.
It looked like I could actually go down there and have what I'd yearned for all along - peaceful solitude in nature.
But I wasn't sure if this was private property. As I pulled up I saw some people walking up with fishing poles. It was then that I saw the sign and trail going down. The fact that I arrived just as they were leaving felt like serendipitous timing. I was being shown the way.
Thank you. Everything is working out for me.
I went down and felt the most glorious sense of trust and support. I felt like this was all a metaphor for life. When I let go of what wasn't meant for me I can get to the thing that is so much better. After all, you never know what's just around the corner, or in my case, just down a beautiful back road lined with blooming cheery trees.
As I sat by the water, listening to the birds sing, the wind in the reeds and the distant hum of cars I felt immense gratitude. For myself, for letting go and trusting. For God, for showing me a better way. And for Earth, for this beautiful, restorative moment.
I'm still working at this, and still catching myself in moments of "Look what they did!" But I'm reminding myself now to let go and to know that another Orange Blossom Road is always just around the corner. However, I can't see it if all I'm looking at is the guy that stole my parking spot.
The other week I had put something out that I expected to workout and come back to me on a certain day.
Leading up to that day, I had visualized it all working out. I energized my desire with positive intentions, good feelings and an inner alignment with YES, this will succeed!
As the day neared, I decided the best way to keep the positive momentum going was to go to the float spa and hot yoga. I had it all figured out, I felt like I was finally working with my inner power, that power that comes from creating from the quantum field, from the energetic field of potentials. Before, I had always forcibly tried to make things happen in my own way and my own time.
But now I was getting it! Good vibes! Daily visualizations! Meditations! And... cue the magic!
When the day arrived I woke up with a feeling of tension. This should've been my first sign I had attached to an outcome and I was not in a state of allowing. I was in a state of controlling. But I had done my visualizing, I had felt good, so who cares! I got this.
And then... nothing happened. It didn't work out how I'd planned. As the days went on and I continued to get crickets the tension in me rose. I started to feel frustrated with everything. That damn song in the gym was REALLY annoying me. And why is it so LOUD in here??? As these feelings rose up I knew it was time to put my money where my mouth is.
If I really believe my thoughts and feelings are powerful then I had best not let these negative feelings take over.
Each time a feeling of irritation came over I repeated to myself, "These feelings don't help." Each time I judged someone because their behavior was causing me more frustration I again reminded myself, "These feelings don't help." And when I felt myself starting to doubt, to slide into the fear, I said, "This feels familiar, you think it's natural to feed the fear, like it's somehow rational, but don't do it! It doesn't help."
This is a far cry from how I used to handle things. Before, whenever I'd have negative feelings I would feed into them, feeling the need to validate them and why things were not good. I would tell other people how I felt, and in their positive intention to be there for me, we'd usually end up reinforcing how I felt and why I felt that way.
I never stopped to ask myself what I wanted to feel instead.
I knew that rejecting negative feelings made things worse, but I couldn't get past the part where I accepted how I felt. I would get stuck there. It was as if my car got a flat tire and I stopped and acknowledged the flat. But rather than asking what I would do about it, and how I would get going again, I just stood there staring at it, repeating to myself, "I have a flat tire, I have a flat tire, I have a flat tire."
This would only attract more negative experiences to me, which would cause me to cry out, "Why isn't this working!? What am I doing wrong!? Does the Universe not care about me? Has God forgotten me? HellooooOOOOoooo? Is this thing on!??!?!"
The more I spiraled down, wallowing in my own feelings, the more I would surround myself with them and see them as evidence that things just don't work out.
I would go down and down and down until it broke, and I would cry and surrender it all through meditation and yoga.
This somehow felt like I was doing it right, because meditation and yoga are healthy ways to deal with stress, right? It never even occurred to me that rather than continually cycling through a state of despair and recovery I could actually halt the process, change course and nurture prevention and inner faith instead.
Resisting the slide down became a battle waging within me. All the while, a part of me was whispering, "Just give in. Be angry. Be sad. Be pissed at the world. You'll feel so much better." But I couldn't give in, even as it began to make me physically tired. I was going to bed early, struggling to get up in the morning and laying down in the middle of the day. Giving in and letting the wave of negativity come over me felt so easy, but I knew in the long run, it would cost me so much more.
As the week ended I felt the dam breaking within me. Each morning for the past several weeks I've done Kundalini yoga. As I prepared to do my Kundalini I felt that moment of wanting to cry, to shed the tears, and I did. But unlike before, I didn't feel broken and lost. I felt a sense of release.
After, I was still lingering in the dark place. I still felt uncertain and like I could fall backwards at any moment. And that's when I really got tired of my own bullshit and wanted to shout it down.
I'm all for self love and loving kindness, but sometimes the most loving thing we can do for ourselves is to let that voice that wants to make us feel sad, afraid and lost know it's not in charge.
Behind the voice that tells us we're alone and forgotten is another voice, and this is the one I wanted to energize. This voice tells me to have faith in the unknown. It tells me how eternally loved I am. It tells me to breathe and allow myself to be surprised by love and coincidence. It's the voice that usually whispers, but on this day, it was done with that shit.
As I prepared to face down those feelings again my resolve strengthened. I wasn't giving in this time. That's when I finally allowed myself to stop being a victim of my own feelings. That's when I chose to create something different. The voice rose up and shouted over these feelings,
I CHOOSE NOT TO BE OVER TAKEN BY THESE FEELINGS!
As I did this I was amazed that I could do it. It had always felt like once the negative feelings swept in, I just had to ride that river current. But now I can see I'm not just riding the river, I AM the river. With enough determination, I can change the course of that river. I can shift those negative feelings and put something new in place.
I can actually choose to be calm even when there is evidence presenting that I should freak out, despair and shake my fist in frustration. And if I can choose to be calm, no matter what, then I can continually choose a vibration that will lead to the things that make me happy, excited and alive with a sense of connection.
As a Course in Miracles says, "I can choose peace, rather than this."
As this settled into me, and I continued to let that strong, forceful voice run forth, I felt myself shifting. I felt the darkness lifting. I was tuning into those good, positive feelings I had had before I'd lost control of myself, and even better, they were coming up naturally.
The best part was, because I hadn't allowed my own feelings to overtake me, I felt a new sense of empowerment rising up within me.
It was something I had always felt was possible, but could never reach. It's that place where I change my feelings in the moment. It's the part of me that knows that true empowerment isn't about other people. It's about knowing I can control my feelings, and if I can control my feelings, I can keep from getting lost in fear, insecurity and anger.
As I got into this newly empowered state I began to get more clear on everything. I reminded myself that just because things aren't happening now doesn't mean they won't. If I look for evidence of future magic in what's already here then I'm just shooting myself in the foot. What's here now is old news. What's coming - and something new always comes, change is inevitable - is what matters.
Looking out and falling into despair really does lead to something to despair about. But if I can choose, with all my might, not to be overtaken by own feelings, then I can get back to the trust, to the allowing and best of all, to the freedom of knowing everything is working out for me, in its own divine way and better than I imagined it would.