Seven Simple Ideas for a Happier Life

7simpleideasI woke up this morning with the most beautiful insight. I realized I genuinely love people. Like … everyone. It wasn’t always thus.

This sense has been a lifetime in coming. Mainly because I spent a lot of my life mad at people. And who can blame me? I was Susie Codependent – forever controlling, cajoling, managing, and manipulating. I thought it was my job to force reality every step of the way … just to be on the safe side.

So when life didn’t give me what I wanted, I was mad. That’s what happens when we suffer childhood traumas. (These can be anything from severe bullying to having an addict parent to the illness or death in the family.) We build ourselves tough little cages of steel to live in … and so we suffer.

Mind you, a lot of us were exceptional children. We were the kids who were wise beyond our years, who knew how to cope with any disaster. We were the responsible ones who stayed late helping the teacher after school – usually to avoid the chaos at home. And we were often the tender kids who couldn’t play sports but wrote awesome poems.

This is the gift of severe loss. We have heightened sensitivity, and an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. We have anger – yet we have empathy as well. We feel the pulse of life a little more deeply.

So in adulthood, our work is to take down this jerry-rigged defense system we’ve build around us. And sometimes it takes a real disaster to make that happen.

Losing my daughter and letting go of my former life did the trick for me. Immediately my perspective shifted. I relaxed and have turned the spotlight back on me.

Now these have become my guiding principles. They’re simple, they cost nothing, and they don’t require any ‘doing’. (No, you don’t have to meditate, though that’s always a help.)

  1. I don’t need to make anyone happy but myself. It’s actually my more important responsibility.
  2. I really can – and do – say ‘No’ whenever I need to now. The sky doesn’t fall. It’s great!
  3. No one has to march to my tune but me. Everyone else has a right to live their life EXACTLY the way they want. As do I. If that means we need to go separate ways, so be it. It’s just part of God’s plan.
  4. Things usually work out just fine. Once you’ve been thru the worst thing that can happen and you emerge better for it … you learn to go with what comes. Really, truly. Things do work out.
  5. Stop worrying. Turns out worrying doesn’t actually help – and it just produces a lot of agita. So I try not to spend time there anymore.
  6. We can’t force reality. What a shocker! So thought I could. Kind of hilarious when you think about it.
  7. In the end, all we’ve got is love. Turns out accumulating stuff is highly overrated and somewhat lonely. But love really does heal all wounds.

Is Letting Go the Key to Happiness? (Absolutely!)

releasing flower petalsQuestion: what do you long for, dear friend?

What, in your heart of hearts, do you know you could have if only …

If only, what? You won the lottery? You had more time because you didn’t have this %$%#$&amp**
[INSERT PERSON, PLACE OR THING] that holds you back?

If so, then it could be time to surrender — but only if you are willing to let go. (And I do mean completely.)

Here’s the catch.

Innate to the human condition is a certain level of suffering that is just … there. We somehow have it wired up that we must suffer on some level. Perhaps people were not kind to us when we were young and we think we deserve a certain amount of pain. Or perhaps we made a karmic decision before we entered this life that we would have all sorts of lessons, usually delivered through harshness.

Whatever the case may be, we are mere babes as we move through this life and subject ourselves to a huge amount of suffering. Yes, we think we are all powerful, wielding credit cards, cell phones, tight schedules and big demands. Yet behind all of that posturing is our fear.

We are afraid that our suffering will catch up with us. That we will lose our steely grip on control and be brought to our knees by circumstance. Or that we will lose everything, and so we will crumble to the ground and die.

What we don’t see is that when we have nothing, when we finally let go and fall apart, then we are finally free.

In that moment, we become surrendered enough to acknowledge the truth – that all of this resistance and suffering we’ve cooked up is unnecessary. We start to see that we can have anything we want … if only we will allow ourselves to trust the Universe to bring it our way.

Ranier Maria Rilke wrote: “Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”

If we can allow ourselves to relax into that receptivity and stop the incessant striving and pushing, then life can finally, truly turn our way. Perhaps for you that critical surrender means losing a treasured client or contract you’d wanted forever. Without that guaranteed source of income you think you will never make it. You believe you will simply dissolve, and cease to be the glorious You
you keep trying to be.

Ah, but friend, what if …

What if the real You is actually waiting behind all the letting go and the chaos? What if the Universe has something even better prepared for you? Can you let go and surrender into that infinite possibility? This is when your heart opens, your love for the world expands and you are finally set free.

When I gave up my 23-year marriage, my big showcase home, my identity as a nice straight lady, and then, subsequently, the woman I thought was the love of my life, I began to surrender and truly fall apart.

For a while I roamed around, staying with friends here and there, not sure exactly what to do. And then, incredibly, my daughter suddenly died. And so, in a curious way, I was reborn. Now my life has finally come into an amazing alignment in which every day I feel more confident, more powerful and stronger than ever before.

And all I had to do was let go. Completely.

There is something unexpected and sweet about this state of non-attachment. The usual supports are gone; unusual taboos are being lived. And in the chaos you realize you are made of unique and beautiful stuff. Above all, you discover you are loved and supported in ways you’d never imagined.

For in that ultimate moment of self-reliance, devoid of all your usual props, you can finally know what you are made of. And what you are made of is love. You are not your judgments, your hurts or your long list of to-do’s. Nor are you your self-criticisms and your relentless drive for perfection.

No, dear friend, you are nothing more than your big, beating heart. The degree to which you can know and live this love is the degree to which you will set sail and honor the path you have been given.

There is no valor in holding back in the name of practicality. Do that thing you have been given to do in the small of your heart – the one that propels you forward with an ‘if only …’. That is where the magic is.

If it means some carefully constructed structures must dissolve as you face your worst fears, then so be it. On the other side of all that loss is simply freedom.

You will survive – and, in fact, you will thrive; I can promise you that. That dream of yours is like a great beam of love waiting to pour out into the world and light your path as it lights others. And in that divine consciousness is all the magic and power in the world.

Why resist, dear friend? Why not just dissolve? For I can tell you right now with a smile and an arm around your shoulders: Not only do you deserve it … we all do.

We truly do long for your gifts.

So will you just surrender?

 

Is Your Inner Four-Year-Old Running Your Life?

 

mad child

 

Who is in charge of the decisions you make?

You … or an angry, fearful child who lives in your heart?

I ask because it might be time to get to know her.

You know she’s in charge if any of the following ring true.

 

 

  1. You find yourself drawn to difficult people in love or work … kind of like all those kids who bullied you in the schoolyard or your tough parent.
  1. You spend money too freely – or perhaps not often enough — getting a physical rush of satisfaction when you do so, despite any financial or personal mayhem that may ensue.
  1. You eat that last jelly donut or drink the extra martini, even though you REALLY ARE trying to stop. Because … well, it’s been a hard day.
  1. Financial, career or business chaos seems to follow you around, no matter how hard you try to shake it.
  1. On some level you feel addicted to excitement and drama, even though you ‘know’ it’s draining and debilitating and you’re sick of it.
  1. You consistently attract people who encroach on your boundaries in some basic way.
  1. You find yourself feeling mad for no reason sometimes. And really, you can’t help it.
  1. You long to do things you can’t get started with. Or finish the ones you have started. Yes, you’re scared but … why?
  2. Procrastination is second nature … though somehow things always finally happen. But not without a fair amount of adrenaline.
  1. You buy things on impulse only to return them later – or stockpile them in a room or closet filled with unused items. You don’t really know why.

Chances are some of this is true for you, it’s time to meet your inner child.

Honestly, the foot-stamping or frightened little self who lives in your heart is so entwined with your life that there is little you can do WITHOUT her involvement. And sometimes she feels completely out of control.

For most of us, our inner child operates like … well … a four-year- old. Decisions get made and impulses followed that mirror that distinct 4-year- old logic. Which is why the last jelly doughnut is impossible to resist.

Our inner child becomes the source of many of the unbreakable patterns that show up again and again in life. And it is not until we begin to work with this formidable power source that things can begin to shift.

For me, I’ve had to spend active time first of all finding my inner child … and then just plain old listening to her. I began this work in earnest after I noticed I’d attracted a string of difficult women in my life in love and friendship.

Yes, they reminded me of Mom. Point made.

I experienced a palpable gut-level fear around these women … the same fear I knew as the kid who got bullied at home and at school. But there was something deeper going on as well. Somewhere behind the annoyance and upset was anxiety ,,, as well as a strange, subtle desire to feel that feeling.

It was all incredibly familiar. So when I found one of these women it was an auto-yes to engage.

It’s this kind of recognition that can begin to break the log-jam and end the pattern. So I began calling my inner child out into the sunlight so I could get to know her, day by day.

This happens by sitting quietly, tuning in and inviting ‘Little [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]’ to show up. When you do this, you may be surprised how she appears.

In the beginning, my inner child, Little Susie, was pissed. She was furious really, because I’d shown such a complete lack of interest in her through my entire adult life. I was taken aback.

First I had to just listen while she had a nervy tantrum. But over the weeks that followed, she began to lighten up. At the same time, I began to tune in to her more and more deeply.

In my imagination, Little Susie sits on my lap when I meditate. I stroke her head and tell her how much I appreciate her. I ask her what she needs.

Inevitably she just wants me pay a little attention to her. Or maybe take her to the beach.

My big take away is that this little girl was just plain bewildered by the circumstances of her childhood all those years ago. And so all that anger I bottled up inside has begun to finally dissolve.

I no longer auto-rant at myself for opportunities missed and mistakes made. Nor do I lose my head when I’m scared. Instead, I tune into this sweet little soul’s innocent heart. If I made a mistake, I assure Little Susie that the world will not end. If I’m afraid, we hug each other and hang on for dear life for a while.

Most of all, we now both know it’s all going to be okay.

We are all children of the Universe throughout our lives. It is when we can recognize that and feed ourselves accordingly that life becomes more and more beautiful. And so we become more and more transparent, allowing Grace to shine through us.

Take a moment right now to close your eyes and say hello to the little one who lives within. If it would help to dig out an old childhood photo, do it. Leave it somewhere where you can see it often and be reminded to check in.

Chances are she’s been waiting for you.