Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy? It’s really that simple. Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear (p. 141.)
This quote is from The Untethered Soul’s chapter entitled “The Path of Unconditional Happiness.”
Sounds simple? Maybe simplistic? All you have to do is maintain your determination to be happy regardless of what happens. That’s what spiritual guide Michael Singer tells us.
Okay, I thought, I’ll give it a try. I’ll experiment with a new way of being. For thirty years as a psychotherapist I’ve delved into the underlying causes of human moods. Early childhood’s adverse experiences are known to be responsible for most of our anxiety and depression, as well as our inability to get what we want and need from life.
Here was something totally different, a prescription for disregarding emotions and thoughts. Instead of going into the feeling state to mine its message, I was being advised to breathe deeply, relax and let go of the fear or worry disturbing my peace. It was a revolutionary way of reaching the goal of happiness. Could something so simple really work?
I set out determined to test this new approach. My inner critic voice seized the opportunity to poke fun at me. Oh sure, it was saying, just decide to be happy and wipe out a lifetime of hurts and habits. Still, I was feeling pretty good. I took a deep breath and released the scolding into the atmosphere. Energy is neutral, neither good nor bad. I was releasing energy into the source of the Great Energy that connects us all.
Everything went pretty well that morning as I drove around town grocery shopping and doing routine errands. When I paused too long at a red light, not realizing it had turned green, the guy behind me honked his horn and made a very rude gesture. I was about to get upset. But wait, I had a better way. I could relax, release the emotion into the universal energy and remain happy. I kept him waiting another minute while I cleared my inner messiness. It worked: for me at least.
I was hopeful and surprised at the effectiveness of this new/ancient way of handling stress. Back home, I went to my computer to write about this amazing new experience. That’s when I met with an insurmountable block to my happiness. I could be happy as long as my inability to deal with technology wasn’t exposed. That was a gaping wound, one of those situations I can’t handle.
My internet was not available. Something was unplugged or unpaid for. This sort of technical problem completely disarms me. I was on my own. I became so upset I began seriously questioning the wisdom of having left my marriage. Could I function without a man to deal with technical problems? There was no computer-savvy husband to turn to. I felt alone and vulnerable.
As the day went on, the happiness-threatening situation grew worse. I’d just installed two portable air conditioners in my apartment. One was in the bedroom: the other in the living area. Agitated and unnerved by the internet disaster, I realized my feet were wet. What?! I looked down and saw water pooling on the living room floor. I rushed to the bedroom. Water was puddling there too.
Somewhere I’d got the idea I had to buy little garden hoses to run the water resulting from cooling into white plastic basins. The trouble was, the little white basins didn’t hold enough water. I was completely unnerved.
Breathe, for heavens’ sake, I told myself. Send the hysteria into the universal pool of energy.
It was almost a week later that a technician came to my rescue. Guess what? I didn’t need those garden hoses. Modern air conditioners somehow turn all that water into condensation and spew it out the white tubing vented through the window to the outside.
A husband would have known that.