You have got to be kidding me

My friends know that nothing enrages me like shoveling snow.

Yes, you read that right. It’s entirely irrational.

Recently I told one of my friends how I had to shovel a snow drift at the end of my driveway. Even though it took only a few minutes, I got so angry, I found myself saying at least a few choice words aloud as I did it. I could feel my whole body tensing in anger.  “You have got to be f****** kidding me.”


She told me, “You should write about this in your blog.”

My response? “Why? So people will know how crazy I really am?”

She said, “No one really thinks you ever get angry. I’ve never seen you get angry.”

She’s not the first person to suggest that they’d like to see me get angry.

People routinely tell me that they think I must lead a charm-filled, stress-free life.

I assure you that this is both true and not true.

I choose to believe that my life is the way it is for a reason. That the reason is both me, and not me (in other words, it’s bigger than me). Nothing in my life looks the way I planned it. And yet, it’s both more and less than I expected.

Sometimes we tend to label emotions as good or bad. Anger isn’t a bad emotion. It can be harmful when expressed in certain ways, though.

One of my long-time male friends used to sometimes break furniture when the wrong team won the football game.

I always wanted to ask him, “What are you really angry about?”

He lives alone, so I guess if he’s breaking his own furniture maybe he’s not hurting anything (though I suppose it’s also an expensive habit).

As for me, I feel like an inanimate outlet for anger (like, say, a force of nature), while seemingly childish, is basically harmless. As long as I know what I’m really angry about.

I suppose it’s the adult version of a temper tantrum.

It also proves I’m human. (In case there was any doubt.)

The Pursuit of Happiness

I recently read Jane Gruber’s article “Four Ways Happiness Can Hurt You” in which she discusses the downside of being up. Now, while it’s great to maintain a positive attitude, I think that Gruber makes a valid point when she states that “Happiness is not suited to every situation.” Many of the proponents of positive thinking and affirmations would have us believe that it’s never ok to feel bad: that by doing so we are energetically drawing toward ourselves all that we actually seek to avoid.

Try telling that to someone who has recently experienced a significant loss or major life challenge.

If we define happiness as an emotion that we experience, then it seems unlikely that we’d be able to experience just one end of the emotional spectrum at all times. We might realistically have to concede a little time to unhappiness, too. But the thing about that is, by contrast, the good times will seem that much better.

Perhaps it’s also true that happiness can make us just a little bit too comfortable. If we feel happy, we’re less likely to strive for something more in our lives. A little contentment goes a long way. Too much of it can be a dangerous thing, at least in terms of ambition and personal drive.

Of course, in all of this discussion we are focused on happiness as a feeling that is generated by external circumstances and experiences.

The Buddhists would say that it is a mistake to rely on external circumstances to generate our happiness. That such an attitude will leave us grasping for something we’ll never be able to hold onto or sustain. And this will only serve to make us more unhappy. It will also take away from our experience of the present moment.

There is a joy inherent in being present in each moment as it arises, knowing that nothing lasts; indeed the only constant is change. Each experience is precious for precisely that reason.

One of the greatest gifts of yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices is that they awaken our ability to Be Here Now. There is beauty in every moment, if we are awake enough to experience it.

The Power of Love

Earlier this week I attended the workshop “What is Love?” offered by Diane Winn and Tom Searcy of Through Eagles Eyes at the Center for Spiritual Growth in South Bend. Tom Searcy opened by identifying love as one of the most practical, powerful, and useful energies that there is. He noted that having a loving relationship with self and others makes one happier, healthier, and more abundant. And that love is more than an energy, it’s a verb. In other words, we demonstrate the energy of our love through our actions.

It’s an interesting perspective because I think most people, if asked to define love, would identify it first as a feeling. But if love is just a feeling, what happens when we don’t feel it? What do we do when the baby’s crying, and we’ve been up all night? When our significant other doesn’t seem so love-able? Where does action arise? From the feelings of the moment? From our commitment to our values? In the moments when we are most challenged by our circumstances, it becomes more important than ever to act from (and indeed, to act on) our internal commitment to the ideals (and to the people) that we hold most dear.

Pose the question “What is Love?” to someone of my generation and you’re likely to be met with a rendition of the Haddaway song featured on the popular Saturday Night Live skit starring Will Ferrell and Kris Kattan.  “Baby don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more.” All kidding aside, those words are a strong indicator of popular fears about love. It’s a strange phrase, isn’t it? Aren’t fear and love antithetical?

Emotional states have vibratory energy. According to Dr. David Hawkins, different emotional states vibrate along a scale of consciousness. On Hawkins’ scale which is (1-1000), love has a vibration of 500, while fear vibrates at 100. A few key points on the Hawkins scale of consciousness look something like this:

  • 600 peace
  • 540 unconditional love
  • 500 love
  • 400 reason
  • 200 courage
  • 100 fear
  • 50 apathy

In the Hawkins paradigm, one must move beyond science, beyond reason, to achieve a love vibration. He draws a distinction between Love and Unconditional Love: mainly that love encompasses a set of demonstrable qualities (goodness, purity, humble-ness), while unconditional love signals more of an overall paradigm shift. Hawkins specifically associates unconditional love with compassion and devotion as a way of life that facilitates healing on many levels.

Now, whether you subscribe to the Hawkins paradigm or not, it’s worth considering the ways emotions affect our personal energy levels, as well as how they impact those around us. In terms of personal development, it’s well-understood that we must love ourselves before we can begin to love others. But how do we truly love ourselves? I think it goes back to svadhyaya, or self-study, which I discussed in an earlier post. In that sense, love is a process.

Hawkins asserts that movement along the scale of consciousness can be facilitated by exposure to different energy vibrations. If you want to move up the scale, say for example from reason to love, exposure to a higher vibratory energy can precipitate a shift. Thus, it would seem that we each have, to some degree, an opportunity: Have you ever noticed that some people can make you feel good, really good, just by their mere presence? And that spending just a few short minutes with certain other individuals can leave you feeling really lousy?

I think it comes down to this question: “What kind of world do you want to live in?” There’s a reason people so often quote Gandhi, who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s easier said than done, but well worth the effort.

Recommended reading:

Power vs. Force, by David Hawkins