HOW TO BE A HAPPIER, MORE TRIUMPHANT YOU
Deconstructing the dumb stuff other people taught you and you believed
By: J. Marlando
A few thousand years ago, around 200 B.C. in fact, a fellow by the name of Ericurus made a rather startling observation. He said, “The fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live.”
It is probably safe to say that we were all raised to walk in the footsteps of the very fool whom he was talking about. Parents, teachers and preachers of all kinds have told us—indoctrinated us—since our earliest childhood that (real) happiness is something that is forever found at the end of achievement or gain. For example, the child is told that he or she will never truly be happy until obtaining their education but as soon as the child accomplished this, happiness is then set further into the future to when he or she lands a good job. Once a good job is had, happiness is then put off to retirement. And so, as Ericurus noticed, the vast majority of people are, indeed, always getting ready to live.
This carries over into our ordinary lives, we’re always going to be just fine as soon as we get the car, the house, the credit card…you know, get something that we don’t already have—what we have, after all, is never enough.
This of course is an absurd worldview but it’s one we inherit from the significant others in our lives. Like Ericurus’s fool, they seem always waiting for something outside themselves to really start living.
In regard to this, when we are small, most parents cast us into the future with “one-of-these-days you’re going to be or have”” verbiage. Kids are typically taught their going to become something important…when they grow up. This is a message that says, what you’re doing now isn’t so hot or wonderful but it’s what you will one day accomplish that you’ll want to celebrate.
Another thing that significant others commonly drive into our psyche lives is that we all need to get used to the idea that we will have to do a lot of things in this life that we don’t want to do. And so we grow up believing that this is a paradigm for living grownup life. That is, how adults forge through their lifetimes and so, we start “forging” in a like manner through our own. In general we don’t “want” to go to work when we go!
First of all, stop reading for a moment and try something—anything, that you don’t want to do. You can’t, but go on try it anyway, think about it and realize how really dumb and dumber the concept really is. In fact, if you do, you’ll probably start feeling better about everything you do including stuff like taking out the trash, cleaning out the garage and even going to work in the morning. We can ONLY do what we want to do, the challenge of course is the level of desire we muster for doing it.
What we need to fully realize is that desire, like everything else in our lives, is a CHOICE. It is not some accidental, electrical event that takes place in our brains that gives us attraction or repulsion. It is the “I” of us instructing our brains how to respond. Give a little thought to what has just been said because we’ll be coming back to the subjects a little later.
Probably the most destructive of all lessons we’re taught while growing up (and we saw this demonstrated by the adults in our world all the time) is judging yourself by others and others by yourself. This habit is probably the most constant unhappy maker in peoples’ lives than any other. And, in the making of those judgments is either arrogance or despair, both unhealthy states of being!
As long as you make those judgment calls, I can promise you that you will never be very joyful or, for that matter, very content; you will remain in a state of subtle or super anxieties.
Another thing that parents and other teachers teach us while growing up is that there is goodness in following the rules. If the door says “push” never “pull,” be obedient. What the final corruption from this instruction is, however, is that most people are raised to follow as opposed to think.
It is really okay to step off the yellow line in your life, you do not have to blend with everyone else and you do NOT have to be what anyone else told you that you are. You’ll probably discover becoming wholly and fully you as the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself.
Sooner or later parents teach the child that love must be reciprocal. As a result you begin withdrawing from love and treating it as a power tool of leverage and control. Suddenly the fear of rejection enters your life and so you restrict your loving and become discriminate and calculative. The typical result is that you go through life not feeling quite right with the world. That’s because you have essentially taken your unconditional love out of it.
Another thing parents and teachers tend to do is construct walls between work and play. In the doing they teach the child that work is slavery and play is freedom; when you do this or that, they say only then can you go play. How much wiser would it be to teach children the joy of doing in the moment. In doing homework for example—to tell the child that he or she must get their homework done before doing what they want to do is to place the child in a world suspended between the now and the future; a frustration to say the least. How much better to teach the child the joy and fun of learning than the usual instruction that teaches the child that non-learning is punished which actually creates resistance to learning?
It is important to learn create play in one’s work and it can be done if a person really desires to do it. And, once the desire is fulfilled, work becomes pleasurable as it should be.
There are also a great majority of parents who teach the child that God loves them when they are good and goodness is minding. One does not need a thump on the noggin to recognize the harm and absurdity of this. For only one thing, this enslaves the child to bowing to authority and again to follow without thinking. But worse, this can tie the child to the parents’ apron string for a virtue lifetime. That is, even when grownup the child who minds and/or does not mind is responding to what he or she has been indoctrinated to believe! How much wiser to teach the child that God loves them unconditionally just as they are to love others and love their world.
It is indeed as *Bernie Siegel tells us: It isn’t God who judges you, God loves you…it’s your parents, teachers and preachers who judge you.
With this much said we need to return for a moment to the topics of “choice” and our “brains.” Everyone is corrupted by chunks and pieces of their socialization; indoctrinated in accepting certain realities that belong to their significant others in their lives and the mores of their society. This is primarily why so many people live lives of inner-conflicts and resistance. That is, we end up living our lives or much of our lives attempting to be and do what others want us to be and do or what we think they expect from us. As a result, we never quite feel fulfilled in ourselves.
What we need to do then, is deconstruct our motivations before we act, we need to get into the habit of doing what pleases and best suits ourselves for ourselves; actions of self-love and not ego or defiance. Self-love is essential because we simply can’t give what we do not have.
When I was a kid I was taught all the dumb and dumber stuff that most everyone else learned along their way of growing up. But I got lucky because when I left home my parents gave me a bit of old, hill wisdom that I put to memory and it has served me well over the years.. Maybe you will want to remember it too?
Your own canoe.
In regard to all of the above, I think that about says it all.
*From an interview I had with the famous surgeon and writer Bernie S. Siegel.