Recognising barriers to our natural joy
When we cannot feel our natural joy, it is due to barriers caused by internal signals. If we have had a bad or fearful experience, for example, a memory of it is stored. When something triggers that memory, our horizon is overshadowed, as if by clouds. In energy terms, we close up. Our heart centre shrinks and becomes pinched. We become joyless. Maybe we feel hurt or a little numb. If we are strong, we might be able to masquerade a smile but inside we know we are not smiling. Our perception of the world changes and so do our responses.
What happens then? We often compound our difficulties by jumping to wrong conclusions and making false assumptions. Sometimes, we may say things that are hurtful or inappropriate. Perhaps we don’t say something when we should – barriers hold us back. Generally, our reactions go against the flow of life rather than with it. In the body, there may well be a stress response so our sense of well-being drops; and if the reaction continues, our immune system takes a knock, too. Our experience of life takes on an unpleasant and joyless hue, which adds to the muddy residue in our memory bank.
Break down the barriers
It is possible, though, with persistence and with time, to overcome the triggers. As a first step, we need to be aware when they have arisen. That may sound obvious but actually most of us go from one moment to the next with fluctuations in temperament. One moment we can be happy then we’ll hear something, see something or just have some thoughts which cause our feelings to dip. But rarely do we intelligently look at why that dip took place. We might see it in others more than in ourselves – a shadow passing across the face, for instance. If we can look at our own dip in mood with the light of the mind, so to speak, it can be quite revealing.
The dip comes because our perceptions are wrong.
We suffer from countless emotions but they can all be said to have their roots in one of three main categories:
- attachment and desire (which arise from I want, I like etc.),
- aversion, hatred and dislike (from which anger and jealousy arise, for example) and, most important of all,
- ignorance as to our own nature (which deludes us into thinking we are separate from everything else in the universe).
The easy way
The easy and intelligent way of looking at an emotional response it is not to analyse its historical causes, some childhood incident perhaps, but merely to identify the emotion that is present. If we are hurt by a remark or by the way we have been treated, for example, we can say or think to ourselves, “A feeling of being hurt is present.” Keep saying it to yourself and eventually the feeling will subside. The important thing is not to apportion blame or cause – that’s the ego’s trick. Simply identify the feeling.
With practice, we might find a realisation dawning: that the feeling of hurt actually arises from attachment or pride, or perhaps both. Again, we don’t try to judge that; instead, we merely say to ourselves, “A feeling of pride is present,” or whatever it happens to be. The vital thing, though, is not to judge; we want to become the observer of the feelings so that they become weaker and lose their power over us, and not get wound into them.
Gradually, these barriers will weaken and eventually dissolve. Then we can find our true purpose in life: to vibrate happiness.
Adapted from Chapter 3 of The Great Little Book of Happiness
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