For as long as I can remember I have been seeking happiness. Back in high school when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up—I said “happy.” I convinced myself that the pursuit of happiness was not only our self-evident right, but that it was equal to the unalienable rights of life and liberty. (Remember the constitution?) I think I’ve read every book with the words happy and happiness in them ever written. And while I am mostly always happy, there are days when it isn’t easy. Then recently I’ve read a couple of books that have me questioning that pursuit on a much deeper level. Is it possible I’ve been seeking the wrong thing? And is it possible that what most of us want when we say we want happiness isn’t located where we’ve been looking?
My Surrender Experiment
In January of 2022 I selected the word surrender for my word of the year. Often referred to as WOTY, it is customary for people to pick a particular word to hold in their mind, and perhaps guide them, throughout the year. I wasn’t entirely sure why I selected surrender, only that it seemed like the perfect next step after using “trust” as my word for 2021. As things happen, surrender became more and more meaningful to me as the year unfolded. Then recently I reread a book from several years ago by Michael A Singer. That book, titled The Surrender Experience is Singer’s follow-up to his first book the untethered soul—the journey beyond yourself. Together, those two books are helping me recognize my own surrender experiment and where I hope to go from here. [Read more…]
Lessons on Shedding From The Manzanita
Let me tell you a little secret. I am a bit obsessed with the peeling on the manzanita tree. It’s similar to the attraction you might get after your husband or child gets a sunburn and you see their skin start to flake and peel off. The temptation to “help it along” is very strong in me. I would never touch a scab, but there is something about that flaking skin. So, every summer when we stay in the mountains and I see the manzanitas beginning their annual shedding, I just have to participate. Naturally that got me wondering. I know humans peel after a sunburn, and snakes and other reptiles peel on a regular basis. But why the manzanita? After a little research I realized how I too might benefit from an “annual shedding and letting go.” And perhaps it would be SMART for each of us to consider our own benefits from peeling away certain parts of a life we may have outgrown.
Does The Freedom That Comes From Letting Go Lead To Happiness?
The Problem With Accepting What Is
Like most baby boomers or people who grew up in California, I am very familiar with the statement, “Accepting what is.” A product of dozens of spiritual, philosophical, and psychological perspectives, this phrase is offered as a solution to overcome the trials and tribulations in both our individual lives and the world around us. The problem is, when things in the world seem rather painful, upsetting, and sad, or when our personal lives are in the tank, accepting what is feels not only unhelpful, but flat-out sucks. How can any of us “accept what is,” when the world around us is crumbling? Could it be that the problem is more personal than it appears? [Read more…]
Lent…6 Powerful Ways Believers and Non-Believers Can Benefit
Yesterday I read an article about the coming season of Lent. It’s not something I’ve ever observed or celebrated before, but certain aspects of the ritual appeal to me. That got me thinking. Regardless of where a practice comes from, who says we have to be religious to learn and benefit from them? And even if we consider ourselves completely non-religious, we all routinely practice habits and other traditions, every single day. So why not mix the two ideas together into a powerful way to experience greater wellbeing and happiness? With the Lenten Season beginning next Wednesday, let’s consider whether a variation on the tradition can help us to be more mindful and eliminate a couple of bad habits at the same time. Interested? [Read more…]
Taming Your Inner Hulk or How To Deal With Difficult People
by Kathy Gottberg
The current box-office movie The Avengers features a scene where the evil bad guy Loki confronts the massive and up-until-then unpredictable Green Hulk. During the entire first half of the movie Loki repeatedly hurts, maims and condemns both the people of Earth and the avenging superheroes at every twist of the plot. At one point Loki even stabs his own brother Thor in the gut when offered a chance at peace. Finally, during an intense confrontation where Loki insults the Hulk and demands subjugation, the Hulk merely looks at Loki calmly before reaching out and gabbing his ankles. Then with a firm grasp, The Hulk beats Loki senselessly against the ground over and over again like a rag doll. The action feels so justified and well deserved that just about every single person in the theater laughed and applauded in agreement. If only every encounter with a difficult person were as clear-cut and simple to resolve. [Read more…]
Saying Goodbye to 2012 & Other Thoughts On Letting Go
Most of the time I’m pretty good at letting things go—or at least I think I am! What about you? The most obvious thing that we all let go of every single year is the date. In other words, in less than a week, 2012 will be history and we’ll start writing 2013 on our checks, correspondence and other items that require a date. But what about everything else? Actually, it’s likely that before we can expect 2013 to be any different than our past, we’ll need to say good-bye to things that have held us back. Here’s a few things I came up with that will surely make 2013 better in my world.