How you rob yourself of happiness

A while ago I wrote about all the habits that people do that are really detrimental to growth (check it out here). These are the foundational habits that you need to change in order to address the real reasons you’re unhappy.

These are the deeper things we do that rob us of happiness. And often, we don’t even realize we’re doing these.

  1. Judging

Yeah, who’s not guilty of this?

Be honest with yourself: you’ve judged everything and everyone you’ve ever met. Including yourself.

These are all simply your ego’s projections onto these things in order to make it feel separate and special.

But all judgments come back to bite you in the butt.

Take this example: you see someone who’s rich and judge wealth negatively. “Oh, he just got lucky, wealth doesn’t bring happiness, being rich isn’t necessary…”

Now you have just partaken in your own demise: you can now never become rich because that would be HYPOCRITICAL of you.

Another simple example: you judge someone as fat. Well, great, now you have NO CHOICE but to work out and eat right because now you fear becoming that which you judged.

Of course, I say “you” judge, but really it’s your mind putting labels on everything. You actually have very little control over it.

  1. Beating yourself up

Again, everyone has done this at some point. But simply no good comes from it.

Has beating yourself up ever helped a situation? No.

The better option is to accept whatever happened as what happened. Better yet, accept it as what happened because it couldn’t have been any other way.

Acceptance has a magical power when you start to tap into it. Life flows so much more easily.

If you make a mistake, don’t worry about it! Laugh at it! See the funny in life! Even the most advanced spiritual masters mess up sometimes.

The good news is, as your consciousness grows, you will blame yourself and others less and less, and start becoming more and more accepting.

  1. “Shoulding”

“Shoulding” is any time you tell yourself “should” in your mind.

“She shouldn’t have left me.” “I should be better at this.” “I shouldn’t be doing this.” “He shouldn’t have said that.” Even “he shouldn’t have been elected.”  😉

Should statements are simply your mind resisting reality.

And we all know, when we resist reality, what do we get? Suffering.

That’s right, Trump getting elected isn’t causing your suffering, YOUR RESISTANCE TO IT is.

So become more conscious of these should statements. They can come in many forms, not just should: “I would have been better in that part…” All part of the same story.

One of the best antidotes to should statements are questions:

  • Do I know for certain that I shouldn’t be doing this / that I should be more advanced…?
  • How do I know this isn’t the best thing that has happened to me?
  • How do I know this isn’t exactly how it’s supposed to be?
  • Can I find any evidence to back up this statement in reality?

Once you start to intellectually challenge should statements, you have to start to FEEL that they are untrue in order for them to start to permanently evaporate. This is a bit more subtle and something I haven’t mastered yet.

The problem with all these neuroses is that they’re very subtle. We’re not aware we’re doing them when in fact we are.

This is where meditation becomes so critical. You get more perspective and awareness on your thoughts, and are able to jump in and question them.

Question all of these neuroses: “Is this judgment absolutely true?” “Do I know that I wasn’t supposed to do that?” “How do I know this error won’t turn into a success?” “Apart from my opinion, can I find any proof to this thought?”

Finally, try to FEEL that these thoughts are untrue. This is ultimately what will keep them from recurrently coming up.

Remember, this is a process, a long one. Don’t expect to be rid of these neuroses overnight.

Another tip: start becoming interested in Truth with a capital T. The Absolute Truth. This will also transform your mind because you won’t be so distracted with petty judgments and such.

So jump in. Trust me, this stuff will transform your life.

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The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell

Who knew all the ancients had similar myths and stories?

Apparently, Joseph Campbell.

The Power of Myth is a nice book that discusses all the parallels that exist between the myths of many different cultures throughout the world. It’s quite a fascinating read if you’re into stories, culture or religion / spirituality.

What’s surprising is that so many cultures have similar myths and motifs in these myths. Those folks knew some stuff about the human psyche.

One important aspect of the book is how new life is made. Campbell states that “Somebody has to die in order for life to emerge,” and this has been common to most cultures throughout history: human sacrifice, animal sacrifice, sacrificing oneself for one’s children… you get the idea.

Basically, it’s a fact of growth that something has to die first. In PD, one could say this means dying to your old self: forget who you were yesterday, that’s not you now.

Another thing that some of you might be familiar with is the motif of the Hero’s Journey.

Here it is in a nutshell:

  1. Starts by being seen in ordinary existence.
  2. Presented with call to action, opportunity.
  3. Rejection of the call.
  4. Forced to accept call because it is imposed upon him.
  5. Ventures into unknown territory, faces threshold guardian (first obstacle).
  6. If fails, goes to find mentor (=hero from past generation).
  7. Returns to fight threshold guardians.
  8. Faces more guardians until final boss which guards Holy Grail.
  9. Enters the belly of the whale: has to face himself, rethink his approach, look at his inner demons.
  10. When he gets Holy Grail, there is a 180 degree reversal of understanding of grail -> journey was not about the grail but about the development required to reach the grail -> finds peace and happiness in who he has become => journey to FIND himself.
  11. Tribe cannot comprehend his lessons because have not gone on journey.
  12. Hero retires as mentor.

How to be a hero 101 😉

This is the journey that all the great heroes throughout history and culture have taken: Jesus, Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins… the list goes on.

Campbell defines a hero as “someone who has given her life to something bigger than oneself.” He even argues that motherhood can be seen as a heroic act, because in the past it was essentially devoting one’s life to one’s children, and sometimes even dying in the act of giving birth.

The interpretation I like is that the Hero’s Journey is really just a metaphor for Enlightenment. This is the Hero’s Journey we’re all called to go on in the end. That’s what giving our lives over to something bigger than ourselves is truly about.

Most people don’t realize that all these stories of heroes are really just metaphors for Enlightenment (which is what religion is). But that’s ultimately what it’s about.

Campbell says that all spiritual masters have undertaken this Hero’s Journey.

He also says that for you to have a Hero’s Journey of you own, they must “follow your bliss,” which I like as a substitute for Life Purpose. Find what best “fosters the flowering of your humanity.”

But don’t get distracted by the sexy life purpose journey: the real one is still Oneness.

Another point that is important in any journey: the TRIALS on a metaphorical Hero’s Journey and REVELATIONS on a spiritual Hero’s Journey both contribute to the raising of the hero’s consciousness. Muy importante.

At some point in any journey, you will need to descend into the belly of the whale, a notion that I really like. It’s that dark psychological place into which a hero MUST descend.

That’s where the real growth happens. Go the the very root of the thing.

Ok, enough with the Hero’s Journey. Campbell also discusses the universal notion of love, which he distinguishes into 3 types:

Eros = lust

Agape = spiritual love

Amor = romantic love

I love those names! Sounds so much better than simply “love.”

He also reminds us that compassion literally means “suffering with.” Being compassionate means voluntarily participating the the sorrows of the world.

Hopefully, he points out in the case of the Bodhisattva, you complete your Hero’s Journey to Enlightenment and then come back and live with and help the rest of the world. That’s what a Bodhisattva is.

Lastly, about the book itself: I really enjoyed it. It’s in the form of a dialogue between Campbell and a journalist named Bill Moyers, who is actually a pretty smart guy in the book. It’s a really pleasant read, and full of cultural juice.

Favorite quote:

“The conquest of the fear of death is the recovery of life’s joy.”

The Verdict:

And excellent read for understanding the origins of myth and the universally-known truths of the human psyche.