Peace and contentment are always available to us. As human beings, we encounter experiences throughout our lives, many of which are painful, sad and confusing. In a balanced life, emotions associated with experiences come and go – we feel them and experience them, but we don’t get stuck in them. So why do we suffer and stumble so much, oftentimes over the same issues throughout our lives? Much of Western culture and psychology promotes the idea that we are our personality, an imperfect separate self in need of perpetual protection, improvement and fixing lest we completely fall apart! And so, we create beliefs, perceptions, and strategies to hold ourselves together. But ultimately, it’s exhausting, isolating, and while it appears normal, it’s antithetical to our happiness. In fact, this idea of a separate self is the cause of our suffering. And while working on a healthier personality may bring temporary relief, there is no end to the strategies used to ward off the experiences and circumstances of life. The change is not transformative or abiding…but there is another way.
There is an innate design to human beings and to how our minds work. And while we all make sense of the world in different ways – some use facts, others use faith, and still others create a unique lens all their own – our True Self lies effortlessly behind our personality, content and intuitive. We all feel it from time to time in fleeting moments, leaving us wondering how to maintain that state of peace. But when we grasp for it, it fades away. Ironically, it is in letting go, not in grasping, that this contentment and peace is realized. By shedding our beliefs, perceptions and strategies, we begin to see and experience reality for what it is; we act not from our identity or personality, but from our true nature – free and in harmony with life.
My counseling practice focuses on this process of uncovering. Like a river that’s been dammed, we locate the debris and in that awareness, you remove it, allowing the river’s natural flow to return. In that flow, decisions, choices, and priorities begin to make sense again. You are no longer run by circumstances, the past, fears, or your mind. Choices become obvious. Motivation changes. Intentions sharpen. There is an ability to see clearly, to let go of control, to love yourself and others, to choose with a clear mind and heart, and to feel a deep sense of aliveness.
But we must actively bring our awareness to it or our potential and fulfillment lie dormant. In the words of Matthieu Ricard: “Happiness is the result of inner maturity. It depends on us alone, and requires patient work, carried out from day to day. Happiness must be built, and this requires time and effort. In the long term, happiness and unhappiness are a way of being, or a life skill.”
It takes great courage to know oneself and to look inward, to let go of our assumptions and illusions and to partner with reality and truth. But in that space, a lightness arises, one that allows you to shine free in all your greatness, and to fully express your unique gifts and contributions.
And that is a blessing to us all.