Friday, August 11, 2017

The Glorification of Miserable

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. - Marianne Williamson

A couple of months ago I was out and about one morning running some errands.  It was a particularly busy morning for me - I had a flight to catch in a couple of hours and had several things I needed to get done before heading to the airport.  Naturally, my first stop was to get a cup of coffee!  While in the coffee shop I ran into an acquaintance.  I met this person with a "Hey!  How've you been?" and the reply was "tired."  We exchanged some small talk, I grabbed my iced coffee, and headed out to continue the rest of my errands.  However, I kept thinking about the coffee talk that had just taken place.  I couldn't stop thinking about the word "tired" being my fellow coffee shop patron's response to how they have been.  Ever since that moment I have been very mindful to listen for people's replies when I ask them how they are.  The results have been eye-opening.  Responses included the following: busy, tired, exhausted, ok, fine, good, alright.  Very infrequently I would hear pretty good or great.  This made me start to reflect on how people interact with each other on a deeper level - beyond the "Hello, how are you?"  I started to reflect on times when I have been hanging out with friends for a night out or brunch or some other social gathering and the conversations always seem to be mainly about venting, complaining or gossiping.  I recalled times when various people in my life have said that they hate social media because its fake and people try to make their lives look perfect and don't post the "real" stuff in their life (aka their struggles).  Which made me start to wonder, "Do we live in a society that glorifies being miserable and judges people's joy?"

The quote at the beginnging of this post is taken from A Return to Love: A Reflection of the Principles of A Course in Miracles, a book written by Marianne Williamson.  The notion behind this quote is that we are afraid to shine brightly, we are afraid to offer the truest expression of our love and light because we are afraid that we might offend others in doing so.  We are afraid that our successes, our blessings, our joy may cause others to feel badly about themselves and so we make ourselves smaller than who we truly are to make those around us more comfortable.   For instance, if we have lunch with a friend and they spend 20 minutes venting to you about how much they hate their job and that they are completely stuck and miserable, how likely are you to rave about how happy you are and that you are feeling awesome?  Or are you more likely to commiserate with this person?  How likely are you to say things like, "Ugh.  I know.  Work is the worst." or "Yeah, my boss can be a total jerk sometimes."  We feel more comfortable getting into this person's with story with examples of our less-than-desirable experiences than we do sharing our own joy or empowering them to make meaningful change in their lives.  We are afraid that we will come across as insensitive or that we are bragging.  Meanwhile, as soon as we have jumped on the Misery Bandwagon we have lowered our own energetic frequency. And energy attracts like attracts.  You know the old saying - misery loves company!

And what happens once we have lowered our energetic frequency to be focusing on the "bad stuff" instead of the "good stuff"?  This becomes ripe feeding ground for your Inner Critic.  One of the tools in your Inner Critic's arsenal of self-sabotaging thoughts is comparison.  Your Inner Critic starts to compare your life to the lives of those around you.  When people jump off the Misery Bandwagon and onto the Happy Train your Inner Critic becomes defensive.  Your ego, in order to protect itself, becomes judgmental towards others happiness.  If we discredit other people's happiness, our ego believes, then it doesn't really exist.  And if it doesn't really exist than we don't need to feel like we aren't good enough.  Right?  Not really.  Our judgment of others is entirely a mirror of our relationship with ourselves.  We judge the ways in which others shine because we don't feel that we are good enough to shine, that we don't deserve to shine. As Marianne Williamson writes in a A Return to Love, "We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

When we jump on the Misery Bandwagon, we are coming from a place of fear.  We are detaching from who we truly are.  We are surrendering ownership of all that is beautiful and unique about us. We are making ourselves small and we also make others small.   When we board the Happy Train, we are embracing these things.  We are being our most authentic selves.  We are coming from a place of love and light and possibility and empowerment. The more joyful we are, the more we connect with our authentic selves, the more love we put forth in our interactions with others,  then the more of that we attract back into our lives.  Therefore, we owe it to ourselves and to others to stop glorifying misery.  To embrace our light.  Again, energy attracts like energy.   When I asked the coffee-shop patron how they were and they responded with "tired", the rest of the interaction reflected that energy level.  The next time someone asks you how you are trying using more positive language and watch how the energy of the interaction with that person elevates.  The next time you are out with friends or gathering with family or co-workers try sharing what you are happy about or grateful for and see how the energy of the group and the energy within you shifts.  The next time you see someone posting something happy on Facebook or Instagram, choose to be happy for their happiness rather than judging the post as fake.  Even if you know that they are struggling in their life, be happy for them that they have found a moment of joy to preserve and share.  Choosing joy over misery will create a happier life for you and those around you.

"Joy is a natural phenomenon.  Misery is your own creation." - Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

(Disclaimer: As humans, we are all going to experience times in our lives when we are going through something hard.  This post is not to suggest that we don't discuss these things with our trusted friends and family.  A strong support system is a blessing in times of struggle. Struggle is different than misery.   This post is meant more about our daily interactions - our default methods of communicating.)

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