Sunday, 3 April 2016

Everyday happiness - series: how to ditch worries and envying?

This post relates to my series "how to find more everyday happiness?" I mentioned when I started this series that I get to attend courses at work regularly on work life balance, mindfulness etc. and this series is inspired by the most pertinent teachings I've encountered. Here's the first part, Teaching #1: what you focus on, will expand.

Teaching #2: worry and envy feel useful, but are not

Of course, in the idea world, no one would need to worry or feel envious, ever. But in this reality of ours, these emotions come and go with the regularity of clockwork. Firstly, what do I mean by useful? Let's examine.

Nobody worries just for fun or entertainment, duh. We worry because we either can't help it (the thoughts and anxieties just circle around, no matter what else we try to think); or, we feel that by being worried we're actually doing something for the problem.

Think about it. How many times you've caught yourself or someone else saying - if I stop worrying, things most definitely won't improve! Then I'm just letting everything go, letting bad things happen, I'm not being prepared. However, being prepared and being worried are not the same thing.

Worrying is mulling over the same or similar thoughts and anxieties in one's head, all the what ifs and worst case scenarios. It might feel like preparing - after all, it's good to know what to do if the proverbial hits the fan - but is worrying really necessary for planning? Isn't it actually hindering planning, by making you feel more scattered and powerless?

Let's face it. All the worrying in the world will not keep you safe. Things can still go sideways. What's the point in worrying, if you've already prepared as well as you can - worrying won't add anything, it just takes away your ability to focus and enjoy. 

I grew up in a family where my parents worried about money constantly. We had it tight and it wasn't always given that there would be money for that month's grocery bill and us kids only got new clothes three times per year: when the school year started, for Christmas and birthdays.

However, a pressing need can trigger two reactions: creativity and anxiety. My mum was always good at making things by hands and if we lacked something, there was a good chance mum would come up with a crafty idea. My poor dad, on the other hand, probably had a blood pressure peaking to the moon and back. But did that help in any way, if there simply was no money?

The most difficult thing about stopping worrying is to allow yourself to do it. It's so ingrained in our behaviour that if we stop feeling anxious, it's as if we don't care. And that simply is not true.

A wise person once said: if you worry about the war every day and it never comes, you have unnecessarily lived through war. And can worrying stop a war? Well...

Same applies to envying. Nobody wants to envy, or admit being envious. And yet, it's one of the most common feelings. It's just so easy to slip into it when we see someone having what we'd like to have - or worse, feel we should have instead of the other.

Envy might feel justified and useful, just like worrying. What right does my neighbour have to have such a nice car? Or my colleague to have such a successful relationship, beautiful kids and new home? What have they ever done to earn those? I've worked as hard if not more, I should be the one who's rewarded!

Life does not come with a fairness guarantee. It's up to us to decide what to do with that fact. Whether to work harder and try to achieve what the target of our envy has, or succumb to bitterness.

Spiritually minded people think that everyone has their own karma and hence we receive what we deserve. In my view, karma is not punitive but educational. We can always learn from every situation in life. I believe that if we practice and learn more selfishness by being bitter and envious, we'll also get more "bad karma" - but bad karma merely means more chances to learn how not to be selfish and bitter.

Envy is closely related to hatred in the sense that both are toxic for ourselves. Being envious or bitter is like drinking poison and expecting the other to die.

However, worries and envy can be useful if they are used as the initial trigger to improve the situation. 

The future worries you? Come up with your best plan to tackle the worries and start taking care of them, one step at a time - and then, simply relax. There's nothing left to do so you might as well take it easy and let the universe handle some of the stuff, too!

Someone else is successful? Great, that just means it can be done by you, too! Success and love are not limited resources which diminish from the world if somebody makes it. It's quite the contrary. The more positive people feel, the more helpful and encouraging they are towards others, too. Working together instead of against each other always produces better results.

Here's a spread to examine these questions in your own life (just focus on worry OR envy, if not both are your issues).

How to get rid of worrying or envying?

1. What causes me to worry?
2. Why?
3. What action to take to stop it?
4. What should I focus on in my life instead?
5. What causes me to envy?
6. Why?
7. What reminds me not to envy?
8. What is something I have that others wish they had?

Be the King of Fire (Wands) of your own life: authentic, confident, worry-free and fun-loving leader. There's no point in envying or worrying. Joie de Vivre tarot, Paulina Cassidy.

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