Here’s the thing: If someone says, “The secret to life is...,” that person is unknowingly (or knowingly) misleading. Why? Because.
It isn’t a secret (if it was, everyone’s would be different).
It’s like looking for keys and not finding them even though they’re under your nose. You’re in a hurry but waste time running around looking for keys. You look repeatedly on the table – where they should be (and are) – but don’t see them. In desperation you start looking in weird places. So too with enjoyment.
When you finally do find them, you feel extra annoyed and wonder: “How could I not see them? Am I blind? (No.) Am I an idiot? (Only partly).”
The power is in the focus. It’s a matter of attention.
In the hurry to find what you’re looking for you see with eyeballs but not with brain. Hurry causes stress. Stress causes the release of cortisol in the brain. Cortisol can kill brain cells in the area responsible for memory (Your Amazing Brain). Add multi-tasking to frantic searching and you have zero attention (Brain Rules…).
Searching for keys in all the wrong places is like searching for enjoyment. We don’t see what’s in front of us.
Enjoyment is simple. It’s so simple that we don’t get it until we do and even then we doubt it.
If you’re reading this – wherever you are in this world – you’re probably alive. If you’re alive, you’re halfway there, but the other half isn’t easy. Nature isn’t on your side.
The trouble is that happiness gets tied to desire and expectations and we define happiness as: Wanting what we want and getting what we get and hoping the two coincide.
It’s our brains. We either over-think (make it complicated), under-think (act on insane urges) or multi-task (and miss everything).
We think, “If I have this or that, I’ll be happy,” but not only do we think that something outside ourselves will make us happy, we’re drawn to things that hurt us.
Our brains send messages. Sometimes these messages are destructive (ask anyone in therapy, rehab, prison or who is about to blow himself up). Not only do we deceive ourselves, others trick us with their deceptions. We can become pawns.
So, what’s the answer?
Picture your brain messages symbolically like they do in cartoons with a devil-you and an angel-you on each shoulder arguing their case for you to decide (see Internal Multitudes and Enjoyment Decisions). The devil-you often wins and when he does, he gets harder to stop.
Pleasure and habit are linked. Cells that fire together, wire together. In other words: Habits are hard to break (see: It’s not me. It’s my brain.)
It’s like a battle between the Rolling Stones at 120 decibels singing Sympathy For The Devil: “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste,” and a string quartet! Who do you think will win?
On one side are symbols of light, innocence and wholesomeness (sappy?) and on the other is the opposite (exciting?). In the battle it comes down to focus. What do you choose to enjoy?
Enjoyment of life and of healthy beauty is decided by awareness of what we choose to pay attention to.
Do you take the gentle path of life as represented in Wordsworth’s poem, “I wandered lonely as a cloud; That floats on high o’er vales and hills; When all at once I saw a crowd; A host, of golden daffodils“? Or is that boring? “Daffodils? You’re kidding!”
Do you prefer your entertainment on the excitingly evil side? How about delightful depravity and edgy cruelty that’s funny too? What’s your pleasure? Do you choose a quiet read, a walk in the park, a pint with a friend, or ‘gorified’ death in a Zombie Apocalypse?
It’s a tough decision for most people.
Subtlety is missed by mobs fed on chatter, drugs, violence, convenience and bread and circuses. A butterfly caught in a web is easily killed by the spider. It takes heart and courage and a focus on what is wholesome to overcome dark greed.
Wholesome isn’t a word used much these days. It alludes to marketing all-natural breakfast cereals and family values but back in the year 1200 wholesome meant “of benefit to the soul.” It comes from the word “whole” meaning “healthy” (undamaged, entire, safe) and “-some” meaning “tending to” (Etymology Dictionary).
Wholesome relates to “Hallow!” as in Hello! Health! Holy! It’s a greeting and a call to health and Hallelujah! (Word Origins).
Imagine: You go to a concert in a high school auditorium but your brain is messed up with problems. You miss the first part before your spirit gets caught up in the music and then… and then…
A switch to whole.
You see where you are. Your face relaxes. Totally still you breathe and your eyes… your eyes! they widen and go slack. You see as if you were life itself.
What was a disheveled auditorium with flickering light bulbs about to die and chattering nuisance people becomes… beautiful. You enter the stream. You are empty absolutely. You know that life runs along like a runaway train as you float in your body behind a face.
You look out of yourself self-aware. This moment is captured in the very being of yourself – not as an ego, but as… a spirit.
The purest illuminations come unsought.
You are transfigured but no one knows. How could they? You are alone in yourself but through the eyes of another you see the importance of all this. It’s in relationships and immersion. You’ve put your will to the side and thrown yourself out.
Such is enjoyment seeing.
Cease demanding that life conform to desire. See daffodils and ignore zombies (they’re not real).