Why Are We Happy? Why Aren’t We Happy?

Dr. Michael Ryce spends a great deal of time in his lectures explaining to people the process by which we create our own realities and how the actual events in and around our lives, has little or nothing to do with the reality we create in our minds.  Dr. Ryce offers numerous examples of this process and encourages people to observe this for themselves and to increase their awareness of this process, so that they can work with the process to cancel and change the false realities which create our negative experiences in life.

One of my favorite ways to spend quality educational time is to watch talks on TED.com.  This blog entry is about one of those talks by Dan Gilberts titled “Why Are We Happy?  Why Aren’t We Happy?”  In this talk Dan Gilberts describes the research which demonstrates how we choose our happiness, and the circumstances under which it is easier for us to “manufacture” happiness.  He also discusses those factors and situations which make it more difficult for us to “manufacture” happiness.  The research shows repeatedly that most of us think that “Getting what we want”, is the thing which will make us happy.  The reality is that “Getting what we want”, has almost no correlation to our long term happiness.  Dan Gilberts explores in his talk the process our brains go through in projecting into the future and trying to predict what will make us  happy, and how this process is so often wrong in its conclusions.

I strongly recommend watching this talk and learning more about how we make ourselves happy and how we make mistakes in trying to make ourselves happy.  The more we learn about how our brains work and how we create our own reality, the more we can do to create positive, loving and happy realities for ourselves.  Click here to watch the video of Dan’s talk.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love.  Everything else is false.

Mindshifters Meeting 3-24-09

The Mindshifters group met last night as usual on Tuesday evening, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm in Cary, IL.  It was a smaller group than normal, but as usual, the perfect people were there, to accomplish exactly what needed to be accomplished for those in attendance.  I won’t go into the topic, and the  specific work that was accomplished because, despite the incredible power and  intensity of the  work that was done last night, the most impressive thing for me about the group is the process, not the content.  

I have had several conversations with people over the past week about the group, why I continue to go each week, what exactly gets accomplished, and what makes it worth my time, talent, and energy.  The answer is complex in some ways, and powerfully simply in others.  The  simple part of the answer is that I have observed that we are all the same.  If we take all of the differences we find between ourselves and every other person on the planet, and compared those difference to the ways in which we are the same, the differences would be like a grain of sand, and the similarities would be like the Milky Way Galaxy.  In short, I have observed time and again, that the most important difference between me and any other person, is the degree to which each of us sees that we are all the same.
So, if we are all  the same, that means we all have to face, and resolve the  same basic issues.  It also means that we all have fears, and that for each of us our greatest enemy is our self.  It also means that the thing each of us fears the most is facing the truth about ourselves.  I have observed that this is true, no matter where one is on the path of personal growth and enlightenment.  This means that for Gandhi, it would have been more fearful for him to face a hidden truth about himself,  than to face down the  guns of the military in his country.  It means that no matter how much work I do on myself, it will always be easier for me to help someone else with their problems, and facing their deep dark secrets than it will be for me to face my own.
Since it is so scary to face our own personal issues and put an end to the secrets we keep, it is often necessary to have help and support in that process.  The value of a support group for doing personal growth work is difficult to over estimate.  There are countless people who have listened to a great teacher, or read a wonderful book on the topic of spirituality or psychology and personal growth and truth, who have been moved to “do their own work”, and then never followed through because the support for this terrorizing prospect simply was not there.  Often people begin the work only to drift away from it for various, valid, concrete, realistic, really important reasons.  Most of those reasons boil down to, “the  fear of facing the truth about myself”.    It has often been said that “It is our secrets that keep us sick.”  One of the  reasons this is  so true is that for every ounce of energy I put into keeping a secret, from anyone, (no matter how trivial the secret might seem), I unwittingly put an equal amount of energy into the conclusion that I am not worthy or lovable.   I also feed the conclusions that if the other person knew my secret, they would be angry at me, or worse, they would want nothing to do with me.
So, in one of life’s great paradoxes, I create, and work to keep a secret because I fear that if people find out about the secret they won’t like me, love me, or want anything to do with me.  I create and keep the secret, and feed my own conclusion that I am not likable, lovable, or worthy.  The longer I keep the secret the more energy I put into hiding it, and the more energy I put into the negative conclusion about myself.  The longer I feed this negative conclusion about myself, the worse I feel about myself on the inside, and the harder it is to let people get close to me.  I come to believe that if they get too close they will see the secret, or discover just how unlikable,  unlovable, and unworthy I am.  The longer this pattern continues the more real it seems, because I have spent so much time feeding the belief, often without even knowing it.
Imagine if you learned something in school in the eighth grade and the science teacher taught it just as it was written in the textbook, and you believed it because there was no reason to doubt it.  Then in your sophomore year of high school your science teacher taught you something that directly contradicts what you learned in eighth grade.  This might come as a shock and you might even question the teacher and do some independent research to confirm what the new science teacher was trying to get you  to believe, but eventually you would probably come to realize that the eighth grade teacher, and the old textbook were wrong.  
Now imagine that you grew up in a family where you lived by the ocean, and everyone believed that world was flat.  All of your relatives for five generations lived there and believed this, and all the people in your town believed this.  They could see that the ocean extends just so far and then ends.  They have known for centuries that anyone who sails too far from shore does not return. Because the world is flat, everyone knows that if you sail your boat too close to the horizon, you will fall off the face of the earth and die a horrible death.  Everyone knows this is true, and they have always known it is true.  
Then one day when you are in your late twenties, working on the dock and serving as the crew on ship,  someone asks you to be a crew member on a ship that was going to sail around the world and prove that it was round.  Just try to imagine the resistance and  fear that would be generated in trying to change your belief.
Well in truth, the negative beliefs that each of us hold about ourselves, are every bit as difficult to change, and fear inducing to face, as the fear of the sailor in our previous example.  How many sailors would have been brave enough to sail off alone, to disprove the belief that the world is flat?  It is easy to see how it would take an entire crew, or support team, to maintain the  courage and fortitude to push through the fear and challenge the long held belief. 
Most of us need a support team, or community, in order to stay the course, face our fears, “do our own work, and end the secrets that keep us sick. 
I give my time to this group because I get as much out of it as anyone who attends it.  I give my time to this group because I have been lucky in my life to have wonderful parents, exceptional friends, and good mentors.  I continue to have phenomenal friends and support groups, on this journey of “doing my work”.
I wish for everyone, the friends and  support groups they need to face their deepest fears, and to  see their personal lies, and false beliefs for what they are.  I wish for everyone that they could have the love and support I have been lucky to find so far in this life, which makes it so much easier to be brave in facing the fear of looking honestly at myself.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love. Everything else is false.

The Movie: Try It On Everything!

Last night the Mindshifters group watched the movie “Try It On Everything”.  This movie takes ten people with real problems and sends them to a house for a four day intensive with Emotional Freedom Technique, (EFT), therapists.  The ideas behind EFT are discussed by experts in energy work, healing, and personal growth, interspersed with actual footage of the people in the movie using EFT for their specific problems.  The movie ends with a follow-up meeting six months after the original four days, in which seven out of ten people return to tell of their fantastic results.

The Emotional Freedom Technique is a simple but powerful tool for giving yourself an acupressure treatment for any physical, mental, or emotional discomfort.  The founder believes in the power and value of this technique so strongly that he has made the  manual available for FREE on the Internet at www.emofree.com.  He also makes available a FREE email newsletter which is full of articles written by therapists and other individuals who are using EFT to improve the quality of their lives.
I have been teaching EFT to any of my clients who are willing to learn it for over three years now.  I have recently begun to recommend this movie to people as a tool for learning and practicing EFT.  It can be highly beneficial to watch the movie and “tap” along with the people on the screen.  It is amazing how tapping while someone else is working on their issues, can help me resolve emotional and physical issues of my own.  In the original training DVD’s for EFT this was called Borrowing Benefits.  It refers to the observation that if I tap on myself while watching someone else tap on themselves, and work on their issues, I get benefits for myself which, can at times be even more powerful than if I was just tapping on my own.  My guess about why this may be so, is that if I am tapping while watching someone else work on their issues, my conscious mind can get confused and distracted, and that leaves an opening for my unconscious to do what it knows needs to be done to help me along.
After we watched the movie, there were plenty of questions and discussions about what members experienced while they watched and tapped on themselves throughout the movie.  It was unanimously decided to be very beneficial, and several group members talked about buying their own copy of the movie.  I am including this in the Mindshifters blog because I believe that EFT is simply a tool for helping me to remove anything that is less than Love from my energy system.  I believe this technique to be completely compatible with the work that Dr. Michael Ryce does with people, and with the goal of all the worksheets that he makes available on his website.  The more I can defuse, discharge, clear, release, or eliminate negative emotions and energies from my system, the more readily I will see and recognize the Love that I am made of.
EFT is a tool just like “Ho’oponopono” is a tool and the “Sedona Method” and “Release Technique” are tools for identifying and then releasing any negative emotional energy I am experiencing, or holding unconsciously.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love.  Everything else is false.

The book – "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell

An outlier is a person or an event which varies a great deal from the norm, or the average.  This can be someone who is much more successful than almost everyone else, or someone who is “luckier” than almost everyone else, or richer than almost everyone else, etc.  In this book Malcolm looks at patterns which can be seen with almost everyone who is more successful, richer, more musically talented, etc. than almost everyone else.  What he found is amazing!  When we talk about people who are richer and more successful we usually talk about them being amazingly more talented, or amazingly more lucky.  The truth is that there are predictable patterns which can be observed, and for almost every situation in which someone excels at their work, their music, their craft, or their art, these patterns are there to be seen.

What are the factors Malcolm Gladwell discovered?  The first thing is to realize that people who are really successful, are actually intelligent and talented.  The amazing thing though is that they are not that much more talented than many other people.  They have had three things which the rest of their competitors did not have as much of.   These three things are “Opportunities”, “The willingness to take advantage of those opportunities”, and … “TEN THOUSAND HOURS of practice!”  That is 10,000 hours of applied hard work in real life situations, practicing their skills.
I recommend this book because it offers hope to many of us who are average or just slightly above average intelligence, or skill in a given area.  This book shows numerous examples of how this pattern can be seen to be behind the phenomenal success we have seen throughout history in almost every area.  This means that there have been people who had much higher IQ than Einstein, but they did not achieve as much, or even nearly as much as Einstein did.  There have been people who were probably much more musically talented than The Beatles, but they did not achieve anywhere near the success that The Beatles did.  What Malcolm Gladwell shows time and again with the patterns he uncovers is that you only need to be “just smart enough”, or “just talented enough”, and then you need opportunities, the willingness to grab those opportunities (motivation, interest, dedication), and 10,000 hours of practice.  This pattern can be seen to be in place for all of the most successful people in the computer industry, including people like Bill Gates, and for The Beatles, and for the most successful athletes, etc.
Why am I writing about this book and these patterns in a blog about spirituality and the mind/body connection?  Because I believe we can all reach the levels of connectedness and awareness of our spirituality which we have read about the great masters achieving in the centuries before us.  I believe we can all reach these levels if we have the opportunities, take advantage of those opportunites, and we are willing to spend the TEN THOUSAND HOURS it may take us to reach mastery.  Just to be clear, I don’t hold strongly to the belief that everyone needs to practice for 10,000 hours in order to reach enlightenment, or mastery.  I just believe that most of us will require that level of practice and commitment and that nothing will block us from reaching our goals if we are willing to take advantage of opportunities, work diligently, and put in the 10,000 hours.
One of the three critical factors in the pattern Malcolm Gladwell has described is the factor of opportunities.  Today the Internet, and blogs like this one, make those opportunities available to many more people than ever before.  You can look to your favorite search engine to find just about anything you ever wanted to know about spirituality, spiritual teachers, and practices to help you advance your awareness of your spirituality.  But, all the opportunities in the universe will not help you unless you are willing to take advantage of the opportunity and put the work into the process of practicing!  The ancients have long described the process of “spiritual practices”, simply because it takes practice!  Practice, Practice, Practice!  And Malcolm Gladwell is not the only one who thinks that in order for one to master what they practice, they need to practice for 10,000 hours!
It may take a lot of practice for me to unravel the conditioning that has me feeling anything less than Love!  I don’t know yet if I am up to the task.   When it comes to being aware of my spirituality however, I know these two things for sure; that I haven’t given up yet, and I’m no where near my 10,000 hours.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love.  Everything else is false.

Why Is This Happening To Me Again – Continued

Last night in the Mindshifters group we listened to another half-hour of the four hour audio recording of Dr. Michael Ryce’s lecture titled, “Why Is This Happening To Me Again?”.  The thing that struck me during this session was the realization that this work gives me a whole new way to understand, “Keep your thoughts on God!”.  As a child being raised in a Roman Catholic home and attending Roman Catholic schools, I was frequently told to keep my thoughts pure and think about God.  As I listened to the  lecture last night, I had the realization that when I think of God as a person, a father, a powerful being, etc., I have a difficult time staying focused on God while going about my daily activities.  However, when I think of God as Love, and as the energy of Love, and realize that I was designed as an energy system to contain that energy, it is much easier to keep my thoughts focused on God.

I can’t explain exactly why this hit me so strongly, but it is often the case as I read, or listen to those things which contain powerful material, that when I am exposed to the material time after time, it takes on new levels of meaning, and I gain new insights time and again.  This time it just struck me that I have been working with this material to the extent that I am beginning to think about my energy and my emotions much more often during any given day.  While I am focused on my emotions, I am striving to hold the energy of Love and return to it whenever I find myself feeling anything less than Love.  This is the basis of the work that Dr. Michael Ryce is spreading through his teachings, and it is the goal of all of the tools he provides on his website. 
While listening to the audio last night, it struck me that I was indeed thinking more about (God / Love) throughout the day, than ever before in my life, and in ways that reminded me about the old Catholic admonitions to keep my thoughts focused on God.  It occurred to me that with what I have been learning through the Dr. Ryce audios and videos, I am able to use anything and everything as a trigger to help me focus on Love.  I either focus on the energy of Love and feel the positive effects of that energy, or I recognize that I am feeling something less than Love and start using one of the many tools I have learned to restore myself to the awareness of my source in Love.
During the support group portion of the meeting the members worked on Reality Management worksheets, (www.whyagain.com), and several members realized they were dealing with related issues in their worksheets.  One of the powerful common themes was that of fear.  As we processed the worksheets at the end of the group, the comment was made about how we get triggered to feel fear and then we avoid dealing with whatever triggered that fear.  We discussed how this builds a pattern in our minds which grows stronger every time the pattern is repeated.  Each time I avoid something which triggers fear, my mind has told me that the trigger for the fear is not safe, and that if I move toward it I will not survive it.  Then each time I avoid the trigger for my fear, and I survive, my mind says, “See, you survived!  That means you needed to avoid that fearful trigger, (person, place or thing), in order to survive!  You see, I told you, you would not have survived if you moved toward that terrible thing, or person!”  The fact that I survived is used by my mind to reinforce the conclusion that I needed to avoid the fearful trigger.
As we have learned in this work, anytime I am feeling anything less than Love, I am getting distorted, inaccurate data about what is really happening around me.  My mind will use whatever data it gets to show me what I have told it to show me.  In the example above, when I am triggered to feel fear, the data my mind receives is distorted and it tells me that the trigger is dangerous.  Then my mind goes to work producing evidence that proves to me that the trigger is dangerous.   My mind gathers and creates evidence to feed the conclusion that my trigger is dangerous, and that I will only survive if I avoid it.
This reminds me of a quote by Benjamin Franklin, “I have experienced many horrible difficulties in my life; most of which have never happened.”  This quote speaks to me of how I torture myself with fear and procrastination as I dread confronting someone or something, and how the actual confrontation is never as bad as I feared it would be.  This is also related to a quote I mentioned in an earlier post, from The Mirror Theory, “Fear is created by refusing to face the truth about our lives.  But as soon as we do, fear disappears.  It only lives in a soul that refuses to make a decision.  To heal is to walk right into whatever we think is paralyzing us.”
I am grateful to all the people who attend these groups and share their energy, stories, and Love.
We come from Love, we are made of Love, we are Love.  Everything else is false.