I grew up seeing the world divided into two parts, in all things. I was very “black and white” in my thinking, perceiving, and interacting with the world. As I’ve grown up and matured into the adult I am today, I have come to embrace the gray in life.
Creating more ambiguity and curiosity in my life has allowed me to find the peace and balance I sought when I started my journey about ten years ago.
When I started my journey, I was seeking happiness. I was pretty miserable in my black and white world, trying to control everyone and everything and never making any mistakes. In my late 20’s I stumbled into an Ashram and took my first ever Yoga and meditation class. This was a beautiful and life-changing moment. In that Ashram, I learned that happiness is fleeting and the world is not black and white. I also learned that changing our minds is good. To be curious is to be a master of interacting with the world. I learned that contentment is richer than any extended moment of happiness. Contentment is deep, soul-touching and fills you up in ways an emotional reaction cannot. Contentment allows you to sustain the happiness you have inside you.
Our society pushes happiness pretty hard these days and I’m a pretty happy girl on most days (especially if I’ve had my coffee.) What the ad’s and magazine covers never tell you– is that happiness can come and go, but contentment and peace are always within in us, just at the base of our soul as I like to say.
How can one practice contentment and peace, you might be wondering?
I found contentment by practicing dynamic acceptance. Accepting every day, every situation, and every person as they are. Not judging or adding any side story to my interactions. This takes a lot of time, so be gentle with yourself dear soul as you try to practice each day.
Practicing peace, started by making peace with myself. (see article “Make Peace with Yourself”) I had to sit with myself and love all the parts of myself; good, bad, indifferent, etc. Then I had to go make peace with the world. Which meant, that I didn’t need to be right all the time. It meant that I no longer needed to plead my case with the people in my ecosystem who didn’t believe what I believed. I could just let them be. It meant extending more acceptance at times, than was coming back to me.
Practicing peace, meant I reigned in my complaining.
I learned after reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, how much my complaining was keeping me stuck. We complain so much in our minds and verbally, that unless you are being mindful and really listening to your thoughts. You will not even notice how many complaints bubble up every hour of every day. Eckhart says two really powerful things about complaining: 1) “When you complain you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” 2) “Discontent, blaming, complaining, and self-pity cannot serve as a good future, no matter how much effort you make.”
In creating sustainable happiness and contentment, we have to look inside ourselves to see what is getting in the way of creating more of those two things.
I’m not a math whiz, but I do recall that a negative can cancel a positive. In complaining or warring with yourself, you can cancel out all the good work you are trying to accomplish within. You are also a powerful being, gifted with the ability to change, morph and grow. Remember to stay in an empowered state of mind as you actively seek to grow and change internally and externally.
Rewiring our minds to have more positive bias than negative, takes practice. Practice making peace with yourself, inviting in dynamic acceptance and mindfully watching your mind for complaining. At first observe, notice your thoughts and judgments. Once you get a handle of stopping them from emerging you can then replace the old way of thinking, with the new.
Come to The Garden to share with us how you are creating sustainable happiness and contentment in your life or comment below.