Happy Happy Joy Joy

I told a friend that I wanted to take a six-month sabbatical from work and travel the world. He knows that I spend a lot of time writing at Starbucks. So we were taking one night and he urged, more like proclaimed, that I go on my sabbatical immediately because that would make me happy. There must have been an awkward look on my face because my friend tried harder to convince me that I’d be happy traveling.

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I’ve talked about this before, the difference between happiness, being content and at peace, versus the enjoyment of an experience.

What’s interesting is that people mix happiness and joy up a lot. They often link happiness with having things like cool cars, cool clothes, cool watches, cool boyfriends or girlfriends. Essentially, their status in life determines their level of happiness. The problem is that status can be taken away, and the enjoyment of an experience is always temporary. So if I buy a super cool car, I’ll feel the joy of having a new toy, but eventually I’m going to need a new experience to get another endorphin hit. That can mean buying something new over and over again, sort of like a drug habit. So it’s no surprise that the poorest people in America tend to carry the most credit card debt. They may not be satisfied with their lot in life, so they try to buy their way into happiness.

Happiness is being content with where you are in life. Not that people can’t strive to be better, but they do not need anything in order to be happy. There is nothing that people need to do because contentment and peace is the natural state of the mind. It’s one of the reasons why people tout meditation as a way to center oneself. From what little I know about meditation, it aims to quiet the mind, lessening the number of thoughts that crowd your head.

When we look at why people are unhappy, or unsatisfied with life, most of the time it’s the comparison phenomenon. For example, if my friend gets a super cool car, and he’s younger than I am, I may think to myself, “I’m a loser because I don’t have a super cool car. How’d he get it before me?” Then I may feel like crud cuz I just drive a champagne-colored Toyota Camry. So even though my natural state is peace, I cover that up with a cruddy thought. And thoughts are the main driver of our emotions.

This is evident given how advertisers prey on our emotions. The Axe commercials are a classic example.

We see this commercial and think, “Yeah, that could work.” So we men go out and buy Axe Body Spray with the hopes of getting more chics. Of course, when this reality doesn’t manifest itself, we become unhappy because our expectations weren’t met.

That’s another thing. Expectations. Society has a knack for telling us that we’re not fulfilling our full potential and we should expect more. However, life has no schedule. People come into their own on their own time. I know. That either sounds obvious or repetitive. Or both! Still, if we are judging ourselves by what society dictates, then we’ll find ourselves falling behind or trying to keep pace with it. Even if we find that we’re ahead of the game, we’ll self-impose a new bar, goal, and chase that. What we fail to enjoy is the journey. Even though there is enjoyment in finishing a project, the journey is the most important part. The trials and tribulations of creating often leads to great wisdom and skill. Without this aspect, our civilization will become stagnant.

I write every day because that’s my temperament. My writing requires that I do this on a daily basis, that I continue to learn to hone my craft. And I’m at peace when I write, except when I want to kill a character and that character needs to complete an important task. So I’m not sure if my friend sees me writing and assumes that I’m not happy. But I think he links happiness and joy together and they’re really two different things.

Great Expectations

 "Expectations. That's one of the reasons why they fail," I said. I was talking to a group about relationships.

"Women expect certain things from men. Like how men should remember the tiny details of their lady's lives. Because if they don't, then somehow the relationship isn't going well."

Some of the women thought about this, but I wasn't sure if they agreed.

So I continued, "Or if a couple is married, the wife is not obligated to have sex with her husband if she doesn't feel like it." He would expect it, of course. "But there's no law stating she has to. So if the husband forces himself on her, it's rape."

A woman then said, "But we have to deal with reality."

I wasn't sure what she meant by that as our conversation was interrupted. But she might have meant that if it had been the married couple's anniversary, then they should celebrate it. Or if they had kids, then both the mother and father would be expected to care for them equally.

Sometimes shit happens, life gets in the way, and things don't happen to plan.

I key in on the word 'reality' because it varies moment by moment. But how?

I met up with a friend I hadn't seen for a while, and he told me he had a hell of a year.

"2016 has been relentless."

Life had shit on him. Our friends had shit on him. None of them wanted to celebrate his birthday, so I offered, took him out to dinner at a sports bar.

"I'm thinking of moving to Seattle," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Have you noticed that white women don't want to be with Asian men here?"

"No. I've seen plenty of white women with Asian men."

He gave me a look like I was telling him a far-fetched lie.

I told him that our minds filter out a lot of stuff from the world.

"If I asked you to count all the blue things at the bar, you'd only look for blue things. Right?"

He nodded.

"How many red things would you have noticed?"

"I get your point."

Reality is determined by what we want to see and not necessarily what is in the world. Because everything is in the world. The good. The bad. And the ugly. But our conscious minds cannot handle everything. So it filters out almost all of it, giving us what we think is reality.

And moving to Seattle or any other place wouldn't have change my friend's reality because he'd take his filter, or prejudice, with him. But once he drops this filter, this mindset, then it doesn't matter where he is, he'll be able to change his reality on the go.

This applies to relationships too.

My first girlfriend had asked, "Do you remember the song that was playing on the radio when we first made out?"

I hesitated, scouring my mind for that song, a process made harder because I don't remember names to songs. This was during the age of cassette tapes. That's TAPES. iPods had yet to be invented where songs were displayed on a monochromatic display. Not only that, other processes in my body were taking place as my senses were filled with new experiences I had only imagined. So remembering a vague song wasn't on my list of priorities in that moment.

But she had wanted assurances that I loved her, that every minute we spent together was treasured by me. So if I remembered the name of that song, then in her mind, I loved her. And that was simply not true. Despite my inability to recall the name of the song, I did love her.

In contrast, she had glossed over me taking her to Disneyland for her first time. She loved all things Disney. Her room was full of memorabilia: stuffed animals, posters, movies. It was a Disney store.

For our first Christmas, I had bought some Disney dollars and gifted them to her as a hint to where I would be taking her that weekend. It took her a little bit, but she realized where we were going. She wasn't as excited as I thought she would be, and I was disappointed with that.

Now, a lot of women would say, "It's the little things that count."

Okay, gurlfriend. I had seen that she loved Disney. Heard her telling me she'd never been to The Happiest Place On Earth. Found a creative way to tell her. And scraped enough money to take her.

She saw this grand gesture, but she didn't see the little things that led up to it. I thought I had dun good. That's DUN. Past tense of...uh...

For me to have had expected her to jump for joy and run around and scream her head off with the prospect of going to Disneyland for her first time was wrong. Whether she was excited or not didn't say anything about me. She had been dealing with something difficult in her life, and I needed to understand that. That is how I should have shown love.

I'm not saying don't have expectations. Have them. But be aware that when they aren't met, other things could be going on that are outside of our sight and control. From this place, peace can be had because when our expectations aren't met, it's often out of our hands.

Natural Crowd Sourcing

Having lived in Hawaii for the month of March was an interesting experience on too many levels for a single article. But the center of it all has been a spiritual experience. And not the kind where I’ve found Gawd, and Gawd spoke to me through the gates of Heaven, and I throw all my materialistic wears out and forgo wearing clothes as I become free of any shame, and blah blah the fucking blah. Many people have asked me if living there has inspired my writing.

No.

Others state how lucky I am to vacation there for so long.

Well, I had to wake up at 5 AM Hawaii time, so I can log in at 8 AM PST. I know. Poor me. But that's no vacation.

You’re still lucky to have that freedom, they say.

For sure. No doubt.

Da Lee

Da Lee

Many years ago, I saw an interview with Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, and he was talking about the movie THE CROW. He stated something to the effect that nothing is meaningless, that even the smallest task like brushing our teeth is important, not in regards to dental health, but just the task itself. How many full moons will we ever see, he stated? Hell. How many moons in any phase will we see?

No one is ever guaranteed tomorrow, and this isn’t a sadistic statement as much as a simple fact. Filming the last scene of the movie, Brandon was shot by accident on set, rushed to the hospital, put on the operation to remove the bullet that had lodged against his spine wasn’t successful, and he passed.

This simple statement wasn’t lost on me as I sat on the beach in Waikiki. Because the rainy season extends into March, I did my best to see every single sunset. To see the Pacific, the grandest of all oceans, for now anyways, to engulf that great ball of fiya, fire for those not in the know, is a rare treat for most mainlanders.

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A sunset by any other name is still damn awesome. And here’s the funny part, sunsets are fake. Or the use of that word is fake.

The people of today consider themselves very smart, technologically advanced, aware beings. Though we throw around terms like sunrise and sunsets like those are real things. Like the Earth is still flat. The sun never sets, nor does it rise. But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. What is it about these moments that amaze us?

I think it’s one of those rare times when we marvel at the beauty of the world and nothing enters our mind. That to me—Peace & Quiet—is the ultimate spiritual experience. Well…sex is one, too, but peace and quiet is not elements of that act. TMI?

Peace. Quiet. When our minds are free from everything and anything possible at that moment is possible. Ideas come from this place. Dreams emanate from this space. Connection comes from this place. True connection anyways.

And the times when I wrought myself out of that connection was when I thought about how many more of these will I ever see? Here, my characters in my book understand forever moments. Moments that stretch into eternity, not through memory, but where time itself just doesn’t matter anymore. Only this moment matters because it’s the only moment where we can have any effect. And the effect is really only us.

Natural crowd sourcing:

The sun: Natural way to crowd source

The sun: Natural way to crowd source

Practice Feeling Bad?

My eyes!  Where be my eyes?

My eyes!  Where be my eyes?

Do you feel depressed or unhappy because that's how you think you should feel?

I'd come across a method of getting rid of feelings of anxiety, which would eventually lead to great things that I wanted to create in my life.  Who wouldn't want that?

So I bought the book The Sedona Method, by Hale Dwoskin.  It was a pretty easy read and the exercises were really simple.  In recommending the book to my best friend, he'd got it but had one complaint.  

"I wish the feeling of peace would last longer," he said.

I agreed. 

Then I was listening to one of my favorite speakers and author, Michael Neill, and he mentioned that most people felt any variance of unhappiness  because they thought they should. 

For example, if someone insulted you or cut you off while driving (man, I hate that) would you get angry?  Want revenge (guilty)?

Ahhh...

Ahhh...

If you lost someone special, do you need to feel bad in order to mourn? Or can you mourn and feel at peace, or happy?

Maybe in some way we're trained to feel unhappy.  Bad thing happens, time to feel bad.  Kinda like Pavlov's dog.  Or ever heard too much of a good thing is bad (religion anyone)?  Don't wanna feel too happy or else...what?

I don't know.  Happiness?

Then I realized that we practiced feeling not at peace that we got to be pretty goddamn good at it.

So when tools such as The Sedona Method comes along, we need to practice feeling happy, peaceful, instead of feeling unsatisfied that it didn't work.