Regenerating Happiness

Image by: Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Have you ever walked into a room at home and then forgotten the reason why you went there? Although it may have been a short a short walk, it was enough time for your mind to go off on another tangent. While speaking to someone in a conversation, have you ever blanked out and lost your train of thought? Or perhaps you have listened to someone drone on, only to later discover that your mind wandered and you have no idea what they just said?

When I first started meditating, I quickly grasped the concept of the monkey mind. Staying in the present moment can be quite tricky when you are starting out. The mind’s chatter seems to spontaneously spring up and develop a life of its own. I had taken a course in Transcendental Meditation (TM) many years ago. The process involves a mantra which is a meaningless sound, that is known to produce positive effects. By silently chanting a meaningless word, it thwarts the mind’s tendency to make mental connections to it.

When we experience unwanted change or loss in our lives, it can be difficult to live in the present moment. We want to turn back the hands of time and return to a reality that has not yet expired. Our happy memories enable us to relive past experiences and bask in their eternal sunshine. Sometimes, our freshly minted reality is too raw and painful to cope with. We are not yet ready to accept it. A cycle of grieving often ensues, allowing us to purge a wild torrent of emotions. Even if things were not perfect in the past, the framework provided familiarity and assurance which was comforting.

Although relationships end, intense emotional bonds can still endure. This is especially true when the relationship was a particularly transformative one. Perhaps that is why we never forget our first love. When we meet someone really special, it is as if a panoramic view of life has opened up before us. We feel so alive. The exciting rush of feelings that causes your heart to swell, shared moments of vulnerability and ecstatic experiences, leave an indelible impression on your soul.

It would be natural to attribute the happiness we felt to our partner and the relationship, but is that really the case? Is it possible that we really liked or even loved, the version of who we became within the relationship? Sure, our partner may have served as a catalyst—but ultimately—the inspired inner change and choices that we made, enabled us to experience a more enriched and vibrant reality.

We were the ones who decided to open up our heart, take a chance and be receptive to new experiences. We were the ones who gave ourselves permission to follow our feelings and see where they would lead us. We were the ones who determined that it was worth the risk to be vulnerable, and to entrust another with our heart.

It is important to never lose your sense of “self” within a relationship, or you may run the risk of letting your life revolve around your partner. There is a danger of sacrificing too much, ignoring red flags, compromising your values and settling for less than you deserve. If you perceive your partner as your well of happiness, you are placing yourself and your precious heart in a very precarious position. That external well of happiness will have far too much control over how much of your cup is filled, when it is filled or if it gets filled at all.

When a relationship that meant a lot eventually ends, we may try to hold onto it by living in the past. We want to constantly revisit memories of a sweeter time and resurrect feelings of happiness and joy, that once coloured our world. Sometimes the memories are spontaneously triggered by a song, a special place, a particular object or a word. Even if you try to forget the person and move on, reminders seem to pop up everywhere and in the strangest ways.

The greater the depth of the bond, the stronger the pull of the past. I have spent my fair share of time being caught up in the past. I wonder if it is possible to wear out the neural pathways in your mind from revisiting special memories over and over again. Although I had worked hard on letting go of the ties that bind, I sensed there was a missing piece. There was some aspect that remained unfinished, even three years later.

This past week, a friend offered me a fresh perspective that was much needed. It was as if a lightbulb of grace had lit up for me, and I finally had something that I could work with. Feelings, once experienced, can never be unknown to us. They provide great intel as to what is possible, what we want to experience more of and what we want to avoid.

When we discover new food that we really enjoy at a restaurant, we do not lament over our empty plate that is taken away. We know that we can experience that satisfaction again, by ordering that dish in another restaurant or by replicating the recipe at home. In fact, we can even improve upon it and make it more to our liking.

When the mind focuses on the past and situations that have expired, a feeling of loss and a state of lack is perpetuated. We forget our unlimited potential to harness our raw emotions and transmute them to a more elevated level, so that we can recreate what we desire to experience again. Armed with hard-won nuggets of wisdom from our personal growth, we can create something even better. When a person exits our life or a situation ceases to exist, our happiness and hopes for the future do not disappear with them.

Although I had done a great job of letting go, I had not invested much effort into creating new memories. This was the missing piece. To effect meaningful change and to create anew, it is necessary to be present in everyday life. If the mind is held captive by past memories, it is not available to explore new opportunities for capturing emotional fulfillment again.

If you remember that you are the Grand Architect of your life, it will not matter what crumbles. Every pile of rubble will represent an opportunity to improve your blueprints and level up. This reminds me of the intro to “The Six Million Dollar Man” television show from the 1970s. You have the technology. You have the capability. You can rebuild your life, better than what you had before. Better. Stronger. Happier.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new.”

~ Socrates

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