When you come to the end of suffering, you live in joy. You enjoy life as it unfolds before you. Because you are willing, opportunities to learn and to grow present themselves and you engage them.
Occasionally, of course, you become attached to the outcome or try to control life as it unfolds and then you experience the old pain and struggle again. That is normal. This is not a linear path.
Now and then, negative thoughts or feelings of unworthiness arise and you witness them without identifying with them. Or perhaps you identify with them for a short time and then realize it and drop it.
Living in joy does not mean that joy is all that you experience. There are plenty of bumps on the road that you will weather. They may disturb you for a while, but they do not throw you off the path.
When you do not interpret events and circumstances in a negative way, you remove at least half of the potential for struggle. If you don’t feed the tiger, it does not get bigger and bigger until it has the power to overwhelm you.
Every negative interpretation you make, every feeling of unworthiness you identify with, feeds the tiger. And the more you feed him, the hungrier he gets and the more he can eat.
If you like props, put a sign up on your bathroom mirror that says “Do not feed the tiger.” That will remind you that you must be vigilant about negative thoughts and emotions so that you do not sabotage the creative flow of joy in your life.
Remember, living in joy is not hard. It is the natural way to live, so it is easy, indeed effortless. You don’t have to push the river. It moves along nicely by itself.
No More Sacrifice
Just as you say no to your own tiger, you must be willing to say no to other people’s tigers. Otherwise you will be complicit in their suffering. When others ask you to do something that does not feel right to you, tell the truth to them and don’t feel guilty for doing it.
That way, no tigers are fed, not yours or theirs. That keeps the suffering quotient down so that it is manageable.
There will always be people around who want to sell you something you don’t need or get you to subscribe to their campaigns at your expense. Remember Caveat Emptor. Buyer beware.
You are responsible for what you agree to, not the person who sets the bait.
The world of wounded men and women is not a very compassionate or convivial pIace. The bait is scattered everywhere around you. That isn’t a problem if you refuse to bite down on the hook. It is a problem only if you do.
The religion of sacrifice does not support the freedom of women and men. It is just another tiger looking to be fed. It will be happy to have you for lunch if you allow it.
Self-betrayal happens when you say “Yes” to something that does not honor you. And there is a direct link between self-betrayal and suffering. So even when you come to the edge of the river and you understand how you have given your power away in the past, you will still be given opportunities to do so again and again.
These are just tests that reinforce the lessons you have learned. When your “No,” is firm, it is respected by others and the tests will get fewer and further between.
The beautiful thing about living in joy and abundance is that is happens naturally. As soon as self-betrayal stops, we return to the flow. It is the default setting on our software.
While it is helpful if you know what you want, it is more important that you know what you don’t want. Be clear about that and committed to saying “No” to it and the “Yes” will take care of itself.
The Container Energy
The ultimate question for all of us is “Who or What is holding our experience here?” If everything here is held in the compassionate arms of Divine Mother then we are all safe, no matter what occurs. Mistakes may happen. Trespasses may occur. Sadness or pain may arise, but all this is held in loving acceptance and compassion. Being thus contained, it does not have the potential to overwhelm us.
If you are the bringer of love to your own experience, then you are like Divine Mother holding everything in her compassionate embrace. You have created a safe and friendly place within your own consciousness where you can come to terms with what is happening in your life.
Remember, it is not just what is happening that is important. It is how you hold it. Hold it in love and you remain in a state of acceptance and peace.
If fear arises, which it will do, no matter how spiritual you are, you must ask “Can I hold it in compassionate awareness?”
If the answer is “Yes,” then fear has no power over you.
If the answer is “No,” then you will be overwhelmed by your fear. You will revert to your old reactive behavior patterns and the world of shame and blame will re-constitute around you.
I hate to tell you this, but there is more than one tiger in your life. One tiger is your negative thinking and the other tiger is your fear, and these tigers seem to have some kind of pact or agreement, because when one tiger is fed, the other one is fed too. Your negativity feeds your fear and your fear feeds your negativity. Mind and emotions are intimately connected.
So now you not only have to stop feeding the tigers, you have to get them on your lap and stroke the back of their necks. You need to tell them that everything is okay the way it is and you will protect them from any harm. It sounds stupid, but when the tigers get enough love and reassurance, they forget that they haven’t eaten dinner or lunch.
So we keep asking “What kind of zookeeper are you? When fear arises in consciousness, who is holding it and how is it being held?”
Even when suffering is greatly diminished in our life and we are living in freedom and joy, we still need to do our spiritual practice. Without it, we can easily be drawn back into the drama.
Happiness Is a Choice
In each moment, we choose to be happy or to find fault and complain. In the past, this choice was not a very conscious one, so more often than not we were finding fault and complaining about everything that was happening in our lives. But now that we have reached a certain level of awareness, we understand that we are responsible for what we see and how we see it.
That means that we have a choice in every moment whether to accept or resist, bless or curse, complain or be grateful, perceive lack or abundance. That choice is awesome and profound.
A recent study found the Danes the happiest people on planet earth. Closer investigation made it clear that it wasn’t because they were more optimistic or resilient than others. The unique gift that they brought to the table was ”low expectations.” Because they did not expect a lot from life, they could better appreciate all the good things that came their way.
Think of it this way. The German expects a Mercedes. The English expect a Jaguar or a Rolls. The Italian expects a Ferrari. But the Dane is happy with a used Volkswagen. So it isn’t surprising that there are more Danes who are happy.
If you lower your expectations, you will be more grateful for every little gift that comes your way. And living in gratitude is one of the greatest pathways to happiness and abundance.
I know I told you I would not give you a prescription, but here is the closest I will come to giving you a tip on creating a happier and more fulfilling life:
First, lower your expectations. Second, be grateful for what you have.
Lowering your expectations opens you up to the possibilities before you. You are more willing to accept reality as it unfolds. Being grateful for what you have and what comes to you raises your vibration and helps you attract more of the same into your life.
Try this and see if it works for you. But do it with heart. If your heart is not in it, if your intention is not there, it will not work.
Finding the Good
In the past, when you lived in victim consciousness, you were good at finding all the things you did not like and feeling sorry for yourself. Now it’s time to find all the things that you do like and celebrate them.
In the past, you focused on lack and reinforced it, living in poverty and powerlessness. Now it’s time to focus on what is fully present and be grateful for it, enabling it to grow and multiply.
In the past, you focused on what was wrong. Now you understand it works better to focus on what’s right.
When you spend your time finding fault, you have to live with all the faults that you find. That is a rather silly way to spend your life. It’s time to let the faults go and focus on what is wonderful and inspiring.
Whatever you focus on grows and expands. That is the creative power of your mind. If you know that, you realize that dwelling on the negative is the fastest way to trash your life.
On the other hand, focusing on the positive is like bringing fertilizer to the plant. It helps it grow in leaps and bounds.
Find the good, and goodness will surround you. Find the bad and live in a hell of your own making. It is your choice.