Wake Up, Be Happy

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I concluded my latest book with a review of what we termed “The Five Primary Statements of Awakened Experience.” These are: I am enough, I am loved, I am needed, I am awake, and I am happy.

Let’s advance our understanding of these potent statements by inquiring into what they actually mean. What does it mean to feel that you are enough? That’s rare, in this “keeping up with everything” culture. We are inundated with stuff on all levels; in fact, more and more people report that life itself is overwhelming, that they simply can’t keep up with everything. What’s missing? Space. And, the feeling that this – whatever it is - is enough; that you are enough.

You are enough; that’s the fact. Remember your birth. You arrived with nothing, yet anyone who looked in your eyes glimpsed everything.

You are enough. And happiness is not about stuff, it’s about having the space to enjoy it.

The second statement is, “I am loved.” Author Brene Brown researched into the phenomenon of vulnerability for years and wrote in her book, Daring Greatly, “Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living. Our rejection of vulnerability often stems from our associating it with dark emotions like fear, shame, grief, sadness, and disappointment – emotions that we don’t want to discuss, even when they profoundly affect the way we live, love, work, and even lead. What most of us fail to understand and what took me a decade of research to learn is that vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love…”

There’s a radically different perspective on love, something worth exploring.

The next was “I am needed.” I’m sure all of us reacted with shock and sadness to learn of Robin William’s recent death by suicide. The autopsy report determined that Williams suffered from a difficult to diagnose condition called Lewy Body Dementia and this condition may have contributed to his actions. Not withstanding the impact of physical conditions, it’s also well known how important it is to one’s personal sense of legitimate wellbeing to feel genuinely needed. Buckminster Fuller wrote, “Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.”


Number four was, “I am awake.” Interestingly, hypnotists often joke that anyone who insists they can’t be hypnotized are the first to go under! Likewise, those who are sleepwalking through their lives might disagree with any suggestion that they are not actually awake. Dreams can be convincing! My last book was all about the American Dream and we didn’t write about how to have it! It’s a dream. We’re supposed to wake up from dreams, wake up and live. As we noted, and I’ll repeat it here because it’s so pivotal to the realization of wakefulness, personal inquiry is one of the greatest tools for conscious living. Questioning, being open to discover, learning, growing… all these are signs of an awake, or awakening individual. Conversely, those who are fast asleep may have convinced themselves that they already know it all. They slumber under the suffocating weight of their knowing.

Finally, “I am happy.” Being happy, we emphasized, does not arise from finally achieving the American Dream. In fact, being authentically happy – when it results from being awake – is a much more nuanced experience than simply walking around with a smile on your face. It involves a full embrace of life, all the way from light to dark. After all, consciousness created it all and didn’t make any mistakes!

In her controversial book, Bright-Sided, How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote, “Surprisingly, when psychologists undertake to measure the relative happiness of nations, they routinely find that Americans are not, even in prosperous times and despite our vaunted positivity, very happy at all…. Americans account for two-thirds of the global market for antidepressants, which happen also to be the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States.”

When I read this quote I remembered that this alarming statistic relative to antidepressants provided the original stimulus for writing the book. I was amazed at this proof of just how fully the American Dream has failed. Even more amazing though, is our denial of this fact. So many of us are like the person on the phone who, realizing that whoever they are talking to doesn’t speak English, talks louder!

Doing more of the same yields the same results. So, it gets down to one simple choice: We can continue to chase the American Dream or we can awaken from it. Those of us who are choosing the road less travelled have a growing community of support because awakening is the evolutionary direction within our species.

We are walking together into the future.

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