The Courage to be Happy

The Courage to be Hap­py  —  Hap­pi­ness: myth and reality

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I just re-watched an episode or sev­er­al of the HBO TV show, “Tell Me That You Love Me.” The plot revolves around a mid­dle-aged female sex ther­a­pist, and how she works with three of her cou­ple clients. 

In one episode, the ther­a­pist received a box of her fresh­ly pub­lished book, called “Bed Dread.” Her hus­band read the Ded­i­ca­tion, the last part of which went, “… and to the men and women who have the courage to be happy.”

Courage to be Happy

I cer­tain­ly appre­ci­ate the concept. 

Giv­en soci­ety’s propen­si­ty to think that ‘love’ should auto­mat­i­cal­ly equal hap­pi­ness, it’s a brave thing indeed to sug­gest that the real source of hap­pi­ness is courage.

Why is this so?

Well, there’s a pro­gres­sion of silli­ness that is com­mon to most rela­tion­ships. It begins at the ‘falling in love’ stage, when every­thing seems so per­fect. The bio­log­i­cal imper­a­tive sets in, and the quirks in each oth­ers’ behav­iour are paint­ed over.

As time goes by, (six months is usu­al­ly about the stan­dard time) a bit more ‘real­i­ty’ sets in. The things not noticed in the romance stage of falling in love begin to emerge. What’s real­ly hap­pen­ing is that a cer­tain lev­el of com­fort has been reached, and the par­ties are more will­ing to be who they real­ly are. 

And the oth­er per­son iśre­cep­tive to notic­ing that all is not well on the Titanic.

At this point (as with much of life) there are:

Three choices  —  two popular ones, and one that’s all about courage.

1) Blame your­self - this one is not as pop­u­lar as the next, but chiefly is this:

  • I’m no good. I can’t find a decent part­ner because I was brought up wrong, am weird, am stu­pid. I’ll nev­er be happy.”

2) Blame your part­ner - This one is an epi­dem­ic  —  point­ing the fin­ger of blame at some­thing “out there.”

Many are the dis­guis­es for “oth­er blam­ing.” Here are a few:

  1. Plain blame: “You make me so unhap­py. You’re a ter­ri­ble person.”
  2. Manip­u­la­tive blame: “If you loved me, you’d do this one thing for me / put me first.“
    Real mes­sage: “Your job is to end­less­ly serve me. When you fail, I have some­one to blame.”
  3. Edu­cat­ing Rita: “It’s not your fault. You just don’t know any bet­ter. Thank god I am here to teach you all you need to know: how to be a bet­ter per­son, to talk right, to bal­ance your cheque­book…“
    Real mes­sage: “If only you weren’t so stu­pid and inept, I’d be happy.”
  4. The heavy anchor tech­nique: “You are keep­ing me from my poten­tial.” “You’re dis­turb­ing my spir­i­tu­al path.” “Your con­stant inter­fer­ence keeps me from med­i­tat­ing.“
    Real mes­sage: “If only you weren’t so unde­vel­oped and ‘mate­r­i­al,’ I’d be a guru by now.”
  5. Com­par­isons: “There’s some­thing wrong with you. Every oth­er per­son I’ve been with has been delight­ed with me.“
    Real mes­sage: “No one has ever stayed around, but maybe if I com­pare you to what I want, you’ll change and be the first per­son to stay.”

I could add a bunch more. Many are the vari­a­tions. How­ev­er, here’s the key.

Blame is this: making another person responsible for your feelings, intentions, thoughts, and actions.

The third choice is courage.

Note: If your present rela­tion­ship needs work, well…
check out The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever.
It’s my rela­tion­ships book… you’ll find all the help you need!

It plays out as:

Accep­tance: Ful­ly and com­plete­ly being with the per­son you are with. (if you can’t, or won’t, you leave.)

  • accept­ing per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty for every­thing about you. Your thoughts, feel­ings, inter­pre­ta­tions, and actions are yours, and yours alone. Major courage required to own this.
  • accept­ing that your part­ner is your part­ner, warts and all (just like you…) Your job is to be there, with a real per­son, despite your burn­ing desire to turn your part­ner into some­one else.

Curios­i­ty: Admit­ting that you do not and can­not know any­thing about your part­ner, and there­fore ask­ing instead of ana­lyz­ing, guess­ing, or psy­cho­an­a­lyz­ing.

  • Most peo­ple think they should (if it’s ‘real love’) know what their part­ner is think­ing, feel­ing, and interpreting. 
    • Hint: you can’t. All you can do is lis­ten and ask for clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Your job is to learn about your­self, and to reveal your­self  —  courage is watch­ing and lis­ten­ing as oth­ers do the same, with­out interfering.
  • Last night Dar­bel­la and I were com­ing home from Yoga, and got into a dis­cus­sion about the emo­tion­al pain of unmet expec­ta­tions, (in this case, not hav­ing the Fam­i­ly of Ori­gin you might have want­ed.) I was talk­ing the­o­ry, and Dar was talk­ing from per­son­al expe­ri­ence, and we kept bump­ing against each other.
    • As we got home, Dar said, “I was mak­ing the point that the pain of dis­ap­point­ment comes up for me occa­sion­al­ly. That’s all I was say­ing.” I real­ized we were talk­ing about the same thing from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives.
      I said, “OK.” There was noth­ing else to say, no agree­ment nec­es­sary. Just two per­spec­tives, danc­ing.
      Once I got over try­ing to shift what Dar was talk­ing about, the con­ver­sa­tion actu­al­ly made sense.

Part­ner­ship: you’d be sur­prised how many rela­tion­ships tank over ‘stuff that stands for oth­er stuff.’

  • I mean: “You are a slob. Clean the kitchen,” is short­hand for, “I’m not sure I want to be in rela­tion­ship with you, and espe­cial­ly if you won’t do it my way.”
  • There is no ‘one way’ to do things. There are, how­ev­er, effec­tive ways. Dar’s nev­er been much inter­est­ed in house­hold finances, where­as my obses­sive nature makes me per­fect for them. It would be sil­ly for Dar to do them, even though she ‘could.’
  • Because cou­ples are caught in the trap of blam­ing, things get divid­ed up odd­ly. I see a lot of “her mon­ey, his mon­ey,” and lots of con­vo­lut­ed games for (not) pay­ing bills. A human part­ner­ship is also a busi­ness. Mon­ey is often spent to ‘buy hap­pi­ness’ because the rela­tion­ship itself is bank­rupt. If you can’t be your part­ner’s part­ner, grow up, move on, and get over yourself.

Choos­ing to be hap­py: Hap­pi­ness is not a right, nor is it a giv­en. Hap­pi­ness is not some­thing we work toward.

You are either hap­py, or you are not.

  • Many peo­ple spend their lives going, “When this, this, and this hap­pens, then I will be hap­py.” And the ship nev­er gets into that port. Hap­pi­ness is an inter­nal state of bliss­ful con­tent­ment, and it hap­pens (as does every­thing else) in the here and now.
  • Here and now is not a goal. It is not gained, (nor is con­tent­ment, peace, med­i­ta­tive states, any­thing) in the future, through cur­rent actions.
    In Zen, this is seen as a mind trap. Med­i­ta­tion does not lead to being in the here and now.

Stilling the mind lets us see that we are ONLY in the here and now, all the time, whether we are aware of this or not.

  • Choos­ing hap­pi­ness, then, is sim­ply notic­ing, right now, who and where I am. As I do that, I can choose grat­i­tude or I can make myself miserable.

Courage: not much of this these days.

Most peo­ple are wimps, caught in feel­ing sor­ry for them­selves, whin­ing, and blaming.

  • True courage comes from total self respon­si­bil­i­ty, no excuses.
  • True courage means total accep­tance of what is, no whin­ing, no blam­ing. From total accep­tance of “The way it is, is the way it is,” comes the abil­i­ty, in the next breath, to act to change my rela­tion­ship with the moment.
  • True courage comes from ‘no com­plain­ing.” Check out the web­site: “A Com­plaint-Free World

The real goal is not sim­ply to stop com­plain­ing, but to state the com­plaint this way: “Here is what I notice, and here is my inter­pre­ta­tion (in this case, “Here’s what I judge to be ‘wrong‘”) AND here is what I pro­pose to change things for the better.”

Com­plaints, on the oth­er hand, do noth­ing more than point the fin­ger at ‘out­side stuff.’

True courage is look­ing in the mir­ror and not blink­ing: the source of every­thing is hid­ing in your mir­ror. Go have a look. Who you are, where you are, where you are stuck, what the solu­tion is… it’s all there, star­ing you in the face.

looking in the mirror -Courage to be Happy

Go look. Be of good courage.

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