Sunday, 7 December 2014

To Be Right or To Be Happy

Here is a question for you:

'Would you rather be right or be happy?'

Let this question sink in.

Sink in some more.

Breathe into it. Let it settle into your belly, down to your feet.

In this moment, would you rather be right or be happy?

The more I work with teenagers, teaching them mindfulness practices for health and well-being, the more delighted I am at how quickly they 'get it'. But it's not really surprising. In this way younger people are a lot wiser than us adults. They would rather be happy than anything else.

They want to be happy and they haven't been conditioned to believe that happiness comes in any particular package. To them it is generally a no-brainer to release the unhelpful thinking that stands in the way of happiness.

A vital part of mindfulness practice, and the part that brings much joy, is compassion. Loving-kindness meditations, especially the ones where we wish people we don't like or find dull well, are the most potent medicine I know to heal the barriers within to happiness.

I love to see people move from being horrified at the prospect of releasing their resentment, fear and hatred, to embracing the possibility of doing so and then actually allowing it to happen.

It was only when I started to wish the people who had abused me in childhood well that I started to become free to be who I am today. It was as if compassion was putting all the fragmented and damaged parts of me back together again to make a whole.

It gave me my power and clarity back.

What often stands in the way of this release and empowerment is an unyielding assertion of superiority, victimhood, perfectionism, righteousness, martyrdom or competitiveness... so many ways to feel as if you are right.

Believing you are right is a dead end. A full stop. You are right, and so what?

Believing you are right can be a stage in the process of healing or dealing with some issue but too often people get off the train and live at the 'I am Right' station where resentment stagnates in the body and eventually leads to illness.

Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, 'When we are happy, we are always good.' I have found this to be true in life. There is no need for us to hold on to 'being right' for fear that we will become 'wrong' if we don't. Naturally, from happiness and balance flows goodness and right action in the world.

In mindfulness we are always noticing judgement-of and identification-with phenomena that isn't what we truly are. 'I am right' combines the two. We are judging and identifying at the same time and hence blocking the flow of love and peace that would otherwise be available to us.

The more awareness we have of these inner tendencies the more choice there is to release the unhelpful and embrace the helpful.

As we move towards the holiday season I wish you speedy recovery from being right and expansive inhabitation of your own happiness and freedom.

Here is a quick loving-kindness practice to help you release old or present hurts:

While keeping attention in your body, aware of sensations and feelings flowing through, repeat these words, alternating between yourself and the 'other'.

May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be free.

Now think of someone you are indifferent towards and repeat:
May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be free.

May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be free.

Now think of someone who is annoying you:
May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be free.

May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be free.

May we all be happy, peaceful and free.

With love and kindness

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