March 29. Copyright 2009 Randy Strauss, All Rights Reserved.
A few weeks ago I started a
Landmark seminar called:
Creating Happiness- The Sheer Joy of Being Alive
The seminar isn't about becoming happier. It doesn't give tips or help make us more positive or have happier thoughts. As far as I can tell so far, it's about clearing out the thoughts and stories that prevent us from experiencing life. Perhaps when we were babies we were just happy to be experiencing everything. Everything was new and fresh and we were gleeful with aliveness. What happened to that?
I can think of all sorts of stuff that happened to me. I lived my childhood in a story about who I was and what I could and couldn't do. When I look back, I can see I lived as a character in my story.
One way to look at it is that I experienced a drama, a story, and experienced only the pieces of life that the story allowed. Maybe I often missed a lot of actual experiences. Perhaps I was unconscious to many of the sensations, attitudes, emotions and thoughts I had. I went through them, but I was focused on the meanings I had for them instead of appreciating them. I wasn't "present" to my own experience, as if they were the unnoticed mood music in the movie of my life. Probably I still largely live that way.
Is it possible to more often be aware of my experience? And after all, it's my brain that is sensing my nerve signals and generating attitudes and emotions and thoughts. Can I influence, even create, my experiences?
In the seminars, we looked at how we think of happiness and unhappiness and what we assume our future holds for us. Then we began taking a hard look at "experience"- what does it mean, what is it, what might be possible? It's still early in the inquiry, but it's fascinating. We also some work to unearth everything we already know about happiness- ideas that might bias our perspectives and blind us to what might be possible.
Between seminars we have homework. Currently we're noticing when we're concerned about happiness or not, when we're happy or not and what the experiences of these are. We're really studying our experiences and experiencing. Part of the homework is to consciously keep putting our ideas about happiness aside. I'm not sure why or how, but it seems to be helping me open up to my experiences- I think I'm experiencing them more fully. Many of us are noticing a lot more happiness...
And to help take ourselves lightly, each seminar also has a light-hearted theme. Last time it was Hawaiian and somehow I missed it and missed the opportunity to wear a Hawaiian shirt. This next time, it's Disco, so I put some clothes together, with the help of my grinning wife.
PS: I'm currently about 5 months into growing my hair long, to donate it in 6-12 months to Locks of Love...
See also, my invitation.
How about a caption of "Aging Hippie"?