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Happiness? Good and bad, right and wrong, holy and evil, for richer or poorer, or in sickness and health, life presents us with a series of opposing yet integrated themes that seem to drive our maturation journey towards happiness and well-being. But what brings happiness to the forefront?
At the New Year, I found myself committed to finding happiness. To health and that drive to find my happiness. Like many, I set a goal to be achieved, yet as soon as I put that goal out there, an underlying force seemed to throw a series of life obstacles my way as life inevitably reared its graceful, yet sometimes ugly head and served me a fattening diet of heaping tests, one after the other, which not only distracted my attention from the goal I sought but could even derail from the ideal of undertaking such a fool hearted journey again.
Who was I to decide to take on a perilous journey to find a more holistic sense of well-being and my happiness? Sound familiar, you are not alone.
Why is it that once we set a goal, life somehow miraculously sets up a ceremonial pop quiz to test our resolve to overcome the very life obstacles we seek to put behind us?
When making a goal, we commit ourselves to a vision. This vision is personal and affects every person we allow into our life. It also affects our happiness.
A dream, that vision that drives the goals we strive for, acts as the catalyst for all growth, and just as nature intended our physiological growth journey, it is not to be taken without pain and suffering. As the major religions all propose, transcendence occurs only through suffering, leading me to understand that the only way to grow towards any goal is through a balancing act of finding aspiration and then engaging in the sense of mortal combat to stave off its opposite.
In yearning to attain a goal, we must also seek to overcome its opposite and take on the events in life that would deter us from the vision we seek. In setting goals, we do not engage a path of comfort or easy transitions. In cultivating the garden of the temple, hard work, passion, and vision must unite to form a unitary picture of the dream we seek to attain. This dream then becomes vision, and vision, in turn, becomes the blueprint of the reality we seek to create, as we are then forced to plan for the hard work that lays ahead, that of building the foundation of sanctum sanctorum, that most holy of refuges we call the temple of the Self.
In working with people, I often see two opposing yet cooperative forces interacting. One is true to the human condition and tied to our most basic animalistic roots. For most, we seek the path of least resistance. However, by enagging this path, we remain untested, and ultimately miss the mark when it comes to finding the aspirations we seek. The other path is that of the dream, an uncharted, yet somehow known territory, that lacks substance, yet calls upon us to foster courage and inner reserves of strength, courage, and resilience, encouraging us to take that blind leap of faith into a dark abyss, work our way through the blind problems we face, and eventually foster light, create direction, and find purpose for the journey within.
Why are these two forces so compelling as it relates to our journey to find health, balance, and happiness? Secondarily, how do these forces serve to drive our journey forward to attain the dreams we seek. The Law of Attraction is one way we can begin viewing this.
I will take the idea of health as an example. Many of you, myself included will strive for a renewed sense of health in this new year. As the dead cold of winter’s grasp gives way to the regenerative capacity of Spring’s warm embrace, it is a time we naturally yearn for health, strive to shed off those excess pounds, and engage in practices that attracts its presence to our lives. Just as our muscles build upon themselves by first being torn down, physical health occurs only as we learn to tear down the body in a manner that promotes balance, which in turn leads to optimal health. Learning to move the body in a manner that matches our personal rhythm, we find balance within the images of who we are and who we want to become, allowing what was once a dream to find fruition.
Emotional health is no different. Our baggage, that ever present emotional weight from the past that haunts us all, sets the foundation for which we can begin grounding ourselves in the moment, accepting ourselves for who we are, and sets the tone by which we can begin relating to ourselves in a new way. The difficulties of the past in this scenario no longer has the same effect it once had on us in this scenario. The energy we place on its importance simply fades away, freeing us to undertake new journeys.
In this scenario, we become indifferent to the past’s effects on our present, not combating self-hatred or loathing with love, for this would constitute a continued strain on emotional reserves, tapping us from the here and now and focusing energy on past burdens. Instead, we must redirect the energy flow from negative views about the past towards indifference, that extinguishing form of energy that opens space for Self-love to bloom.
By reclaiming baggage as a long-lost friend, those items we brought from home as part of our new journey, we face with new horizons: A crossroads of sorts. The good and bad events that drove our development to the here and now can act as reminders of where we came, where we have been, and serve to catapult us forward into new life journeys as we yearn to take part in this time of rejuvenation. What are the Dreams, Destinations, Crossroads, and Journey’s that lie ahead for you as you face this year. Is the Surf Steady or Tumultuous? Either way “The Ocean’s Roar is Music to the Static Soul” (Maples)
More from Dr. Tom
Are you being your best possible self? Dr. Thomas Maples explores our personal and collective journey to realize our ultimate potential through the lens of psychology, personal development, and the myths that drive our journey forward.