The No-Fail Secret to Reclaiming A Happy Life

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“Life is meant to be enjoyed, not half-lived as a shadow of its potential.”

How do we move from hanging on, making do, compromising ourselves, and trying to be happy to a flourishing life of fulfillment, openness, and peace? When we make deals with ourselves and justify decisions that we just are not in our best interest, we travel down the road to distress and dissatisfaction.

What is needed is this: turning our attention away from the people and situations of the world and pointing it inward to an investigation of our inner reactions and viewpoints. Finally, we are called to look inside. This 180-degree U-turn shines the light on the underlying belief systems we carry into our lives and project onto events and relationships. As we weed the garden of our inner lives, we prepare the soil for vital seeds to flourish.

Enjoy Your Life

The purpose of working through problems is to allow our natural radiance to shine through. Problems are veils that hide our true self. They can show up in our lives in many ways: relationship struggles, symptoms such as anxiety and depression, challenging life circumstances of any kind, difficulty quitting smoking or losing weight, being unclear about our life direction.

We know that our natural radiance is freely expressed when we are aware of any of these qualities: joy, inner peace, happiness, well-being, openness, love, gratitude, compassion, receptivity, clarity, quiet mind.

When we are at ease, we enjoy our lives. We are receptive to whatever happens, and we respond appropriately. Even when we are challenged by life, we don’t get lost. Peace remains undisturbed.

Veils that Hide Your Natural Self

When we are caught in a conditioned pattern of thinking, feeling, or behaving, we experience dis-ease, frustration, and unhappiness. Signs that you are stuck in a habit are:

  • Resistance to what is happening, wanting things to be different than they are
  • Blaming the other
  • Feeling like a victim
  • Denying/ignoring/pretending
  • Too much doing, busyness; unable to be still
  • Unhealthy behaviors
  • General unhappiness or dissatisfaction
  • Self-criticism
  • Spinning in thoughts and mental stories
  • Believing you are right or believing you are wrong
  • Feelings such as fear, anger, shame, defiance, sadness
  • Helping too much; unable to say “no”

Do you recognize any of these?

Unraveling Automatic Habits

Automatic, ineffective habits of thinking and behaving are asking for our attention. Paradoxical as it may seem, the very existence of these patterns is the doorway to releasing them. When patterns play out unconsciously, they invariably cause suffering to ourselves and those around us. Once they are seen in the light of conscious awareness, they relax and let go of their hold on us.

By bringing our full attention to the thoughts, feelings, and body sensations we experience when we are triggered, the patterns tend to lose their drive and fall away naturally. Your loving attention is the true medicine for suffering. If you continually work with these habits as suggested here, you will feel less reactive and be able to respond to situations in your life with greater ease.  There are few guarantees in life, but this is one of them.

This process uses all of your experience to support you in ending self-sabotage and living in freedom.

Keys to Freedom

  1. Essential qualities required: openness to change, flexibility, curiosity, willing to explore your inner world.
  2. Become aware of the pattern. Be mindful. Do this by developing an inner neutral witness that can observe your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. Be curious, like an explorer, to see how the pattern develops and operates. Becoming aware is the moment of celebration. Now, you can make a conscious choice rather than being stuck in a habit.
  3. Exclude nothing; welcome everything. Be receptive to all of your experience – body sensations, emotions, thoughts, energies. Create an open, loving space in your inner awareness, and welcome whatever arises. Abandon all stories, and allow the bare experience as it occurs in the moment. You might notice that when these experiences are allowed to be, the drive or pressure behind them reduces, and they no longer trap you.
  4. See all situations in your life as a gift. As Byron Katie says, they are being offered for you, not to you. Every situation, every moment can be used as an opportunity to free yourself from conditioned patterns. By consciously investigating what is constraining you, the patterns release.  You are open and alive. Say “Yes!” to every moment, without resisting, and you are free!
  5. Continually inquire: What is my inner experience? What is asking for my attention? What is my inner guidance asking of me? What is needed? How can I take better care of myself? Live in this receptivity, no matter how many times a pattern or emotion arises. Things come and go of their own accord; our job is only to be lovingly present with what is.

Living in Renewal

Live the moments of your life with ease.

  • Take a few moments every day to relax and be quiet.
  • Eat well, exercise, and appreciate your loved ones.
  • Laugh, have fun, enjoy yourself.
  • Focus on your strengths and on what is working in your life.
  • Do what supports your well-being; let go of what brings you suffering. So simple.
  • Allow yourself to experience pleasure in all forms.

What have you discovered about living A Flourishing Life? What blocks you? I’d love to hear….

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24 Comments

  1. Posted August 17, 2010 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Hi Gail,
    We always have the option of making the pivotal 180 from Woe to WOW, and we do that every time we turn our attention to self-discovery. Turning that light on WOW encourages us to participate fully and freely in all matters. I’ve discovered that those automatic habits from my Conditioned-Self had me looking at life nervously and wasting precious energy. Unraveling those troubling thoughts opens up the opportunity to move into a new world and have a breakthrough.
    .-= rob white´s last blog ..Creating Money Matters – Not Reacting to Them =-.

    • Posted August 17, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      I love that, Rob – from woe to WOW. Self-discovery – we are so lucky that there is a way out of our woe. And there always is. We can unravel our troubling thoughts in any moment. I find this possibility of freedom so inspiring, and I know you do as well. It’s a lifestyle that just makes sense.

  2. Posted August 17, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Hi Gail.

    Those veils that hide the natural self are interesting to see. A few of them seemed good at first, but I see why they are covering up other issues. I’d say those are subtle veils that we have to think of to take notice of. While I sometimes have sadness, I can see that it is not the natural self in action, and it is more of a temporary response. On a good note, I am lacking a few of those traits, like feeling like a victim, because that is the last thing I would ever feel as.

    I can see seeing all situations as a gift as a plus. I have done better when I had that viewpoint, so I might as well maintain it. People also are sometimes surprised when someone enjoys something that they take for granted, later realizing they should see its value more.

    “Let go of what brings you suffering” is a train we are all glad to board. If to-do lists don’t work for me or someone, by causing unnecessary anguish, maybe not making them is the better way to go.
    .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..The Special Times Came From You Making Them =-.

    • Posted August 17, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      This is great, Armen: “I have done better when I had that viewpoint,[all situations are a gift] so I might as well maintain it.” Life can be so simple. If we try out an approach or perspective and we feel better and enjoy ourselves more, then why not keep doing it. We realize, “Oh, I can do something about my suffering so my life improves.” It’s an important revelation. I’m right with you on that train.

      Your example is interesting – to-do lists. That is a common suggestion for organizing our lives. But if we want to be truly happy, we need to come from the inside out. We hear the suggestion, then check in to see if it fits. If not, we let it go. If we evaluated all of our outside influences this way, our lives might look very different.

      Insightful comment. Thanks…

  3. Posted August 17, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Gail, what a great post! And I love, love, love the “Veils that Hide Your Natural Self.” The list calls out those tendancies that tend to be ingored because they’ve become second nature.

    Melinda
    .-= Melinda´s last blog ..Feeling Like Not Enough =-.

    • Posted August 17, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Melinda.

      Those subtle tendencies definitely deserve our attention. If we investigate the habit and see that it is working for us, no problem. The key is to do the investigation to see. When our habits are so commonplace, we don’t even realize they are habits. When we look with a curious eye, we may discover unnecessary suffering that is asking for our loving attention. This is a gift, indeed. As we recognize the suffering, freedom from it becomes possible.

  4. Posted August 17, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Gail,

    Another aweseome post with great insights. I am so on board with everything you say here, it’s so close to my own explorations and investigations of the underlying causes for self-imposed pain and suffering. I have used many of the techniques you suggest to work my way out, and would add to “keys to freedom” this question, “What am I getting out of this behavior that I do not yet seem willing to let go of?” A friend of mine was just sharing about how she is identifying emotional blocks/build-ups of negative energy in her body and then transforming them in her heart to positive energy that she then sprinkles over herself or others nearby. It’s a lovely idea. I hear more and more people talking about how their emotional blocks become physical. It makes me want to get as comfortable in my body as possible. Yoga is a big part of that for me.

    Thanks for your ideas and conversations, I always enjoy them.

    Best,
    Linda
    .-= Linda Wolf (Insanely Serene)´s last blog ..Serenity Challenge- Let’s Get Present =-.

    • Posted August 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      I like this question a lot, Linda: “What am I getting out of this behavior that I do not yet seem willing to let go of?” If we keep doing something that ultimately isn’t serving, we are getting something out of it – protection, usually. The holding on is fear-based. Seeing that is illuminating. Then we can ask, “What do I want – fear or freedom?”

      Interesting what you say about the body. All emotions have their root in the body, so body awareness and body practices are very useful. We have experiences, especially very early on in life, that we can’t remember in our minds so we can’t talk about them. But they are lodged in our bodies. The cells know and remember. I haven’t seen anyone become free of patterns without including an investigation of the body. It’s not just about calming the body or transforming the energy, although these can be helpful. It starts with feeling the body, where the armoring and subtle holding/bracing live, and bringing love and acceptance there. I totally support your interest in these matters.

      Your intention is so pure, Linda. It’s beautiful to see.

  5. Posted August 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Gail,

    This post is inspiring and thought provoking. Your experience really shows!

    I usually like to point out and comment on 1 or 2 items that really resonate with me, but in this post they all do.

    I write a lot about thought patterns, behavioral patterns, and subjective reality on my own site, and am comforted to see a lot of my own thoughts reflected in this post. It is really validating.

    Thanks!
    Chris
    .-= Chris Akins´s last blog ..Free Deep Relaxation Meditation MP3 =-.

    • Posted August 17, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris,

      There is one truth only. What you write about and what I say are the same. Our expressions might differ, but the message, the reality is the same. It has to be. When the patterns dissolve and the identities are seen through, we realize the wellspring of love and peace that is always here.

      Sending love…

  6. Posted August 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to see another focussing on the turning of attention inward to monitor both the thoughts and emotions.

    I find it interesting that our observation of such things allows us to learn and understand without requiring rational analysis of the brain.

    • Posted August 17, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jarrod,

      Welcome! So glad that you came by and took the time to comment.

      When we bring our attention inward to observe, we see that the mind is not needed, as I think you have discovered. In fact the rational analysis of the brain can obscure the truth that is here. When the mental functions relax, when we stop trying to figure everything out, the truth is revealed. It is the end of effort, and the beginning of living fully.

      May you live fully…

  7. Posted August 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gail,

    Thanks for the great post!
    I find that, for me, finding the magic in everyday things really helps me feel like my life is flourishing. I find that working to create joy in all the simple things, instead of getting caught up in the “big things” keeps me happy.
    For example, if I’m feeling blocked by something, I just take my time to breathe through doing a load of dishes. Usually, by the end, I feel much better, more in the flow and the blockage that was keeping me from moving forward has passed.
    I think that’s part of my renewal process, which I am so glad you mentioned: it is SO important.
    In:joy!

    • Posted August 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Hi Amelia,

      Welcome to you! So glad to see you over here.

      It is so simple, isn’t it. A feeling arises, and we breathe through it. There is so much beauty here, we don’t need to seek it anywhere. All we need to do is be aware of what is around us. When this becomes a lifestyle, as you describe, we live in renewal, always fresh.

      I look forward to getting to know you, Amelia.

  8. Posted August 19, 2010 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    Hi Gail,
    I love the concept of living in renewal, and living the moments of your life with ease. What a beautiful notion. It seems like a kind way to live, kind to yourself, gentle. lovely! thanks
    Topi
    .-= Topi´s last blog ..50 things Im grateful for right now =-.

    • Posted August 19, 2010 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      I love it also, Topi. It becomes a lifestyle. So even when something challenging happens, we are already in the mode of not being in resistance to anything, taking care of ourselves, and noticing the wonder and beauty around us. There develops a sense of confidence that we can handle anything and survive – and we are happy.

      Wishing you ease in the moments of your life…

  9. Posted August 19, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Hi Gail .. I’ve been wanting to do the complete declutter and start again life – but with my mother and uncle being so ill .. I needed to bide my time – til either I had to (which happened) or I could take my time.

    Fortunately now .. life is easier and becoming more so everyday .. and I look forward to be able to put into action more of the calming, relaxing, healthier things you mention that will help me ..

    In the wheels of life – I haven’t let myself go & that is one blessing .. I’m exhausted but can see my way forward – another blessing .. and now I’m on that path – it is so refreshing in mind .. and will be in other ways soon .. on top of which I can ensure that I’m spending time with my mother .. which is my dearest wish at the moment – giving her the best I can ..

    So I think I’m on the right track .. one step at a time and covering all bases .. all the best Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Under Sea Sussex – Tompot Blenny- Piddock- Devonshire Cup Corals and Jewel Anemones =-.

    • Posted August 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      I am sure you are right on track, Hilary. If you are following your dearest wish, you are right where you need to be. For now, your life is devoted to being with your mother and uncle. It’s beautiful that you see it as a blessing.

      Decluttering can happen in the moment. When we are fully present with what is right in front of us, life gets very simple. Wishing you rest and ease, and sending love.

  10. Posted August 20, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Gail you say: “See all situations in your life as a gift.” — This caught my attention and I want to add my thoughts…

    The mind often sees situations as separate parts not as a whole. However, all situations are connected.

    when we separate a situation in mind, it would be like to separate one organ from the body – the heart, brain, or kidney can not survive without the body, and the body can not survive without a heart (brain, or kidney.)

    Also, when we look at one event, and call it evil or good, we lose meaning of the whole universe and we feel negativity.

    Each situation in life is a gift! Without that situation at that time, the whole universe would not have meaning. It could not be otherwise, because every situation is part of the whole.

    So, we all should see each situation as a gift, it is an integral part of everything that exists.

    Another great article… Using all the techniques in this article, we’ll be well on the way of satisfied presence…

    • Posted August 20, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      This is a very important insight, Marko. It’s true that nothing is separate, no situation occurs that is separate from the whole. It is our minds that believe in separation.

      Your comment made me ask myself what I mean by “see all situations as a gift,” so thanks for bringing this up. It is a reminder to receive reality – not to resist it. Depending on the moment, what is experienced may be blissful, may be neutral, or may blatantly make us see where we still suffer. When we put down all of our resistances and allow ourselves to experience the moment just as it is, we bring awareness to the hidden parts of ourselves. Then we realize the wholeness that we are.

      Everything is here for our awakening. In every moment, we are either awake, aware, completely undefended and unattached, or we are being pointed to areas of unconsciousness that need our loving attention.

  11. avatar Deb
    Posted August 21, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Gail, thank you for your posts and the comments you make to those who comment. Your comments re-enforce what you wrote and I learn even more.

    • Posted August 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      I’m so glad, Deb. I love that you come here and get exactly what you need.

      Love, Gail

  12. Posted August 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Got to hand it to you Gail you said it was no fail and it sounds that way to me. I personally echo the self enquiry to unlock patterns. Oprah Winfrey once said that “we know, we always know” and yet we seek answers elsewhere in other people and things. To know and communicate constantly with ourself is to find our own inner oracle and the gateway to happiness and peace of mind. A cracking post with a real feel good vibe.
    .-= John Sherry´s last blog ..Why Home Is Where The Heart Is =-.

    • Posted August 24, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Hi John,
      So glad you came over to visit. I’ve gotten to know you a little on the forums – look forward to more.

      I’m in great company – you and Oprah! In my experience, self-inquiry is essential if we want to explore the big questions and lessen our suffering. We can go along blindly – and many people do. But if we want to live fully, mindful of our existence, capable of knowing and expressing our gifts, then self-inquiry is the only way.

      You mentioned communicating with ourselves “constantly.” This is essential also. When our way of being in the world is open and receptive to everything, happiness and peace of mind are infinitely available.

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