A Pessimist's Guide to Manifesting #14: The Law of Adjustment
Why are you choosing to be unhappy?
This week I began reading Mo Gawdat’s amazing book, Solve for Happy.
I first became aware of Mr. Gawdat, the Chief Business Officer for Google [X], through a video on Facebook in which he discusses the basic concepts of his algorithm for happiness.
It’s a pretty simple process, really. As Mr. Gawdat writes, happiness is the default state of human beings. In his observation (and the observations of others), children are naturally happy. They find joy and pleasure in the world until the moment when they begin to internalize perceptions that something is wrong.
At that time, there is a disconnect with their existing situation and their intended situation. They learn to be unhappy. They, actually we, begin to see life from a perception of lack instead of one of flow, balance and connection.
We view our position in life from an ego-centric perspective that defines our value and worth through external symbols: Our job title, the cost of our home, the model of our car, and the size of our bank account, for example.
These factors are not us, they are merely symbols. When we become enmeshed in viewing our value in this way, we disconnect from our purpose and connect to temporary things.
When those things eventually change, as all temporary things do, then we begin to feel loss associated with the degree of self that we have invested in those items.
In Western culture, we have an ingrained sense that we must always be moving forward and improving these exernal factors. Particularly in America, we’re programmed to be achievers. Hard work wins the day, or so we’re told.
We can’t stop to breathe or to find a moment of peace and clarity, because we’ve been told that if we stop, then someone will overtake us. They will reach our achievement before us.
Let’s break down why that’s just stupid thinking.
Last week we discussed the Law of Dharma, your unique purpose here on this planet in this lifetime.
If you agree that you have a purpose here, an outcome that only you can achieve because of your singular experience of life – from your childhood to the present moment – then it is faulty logic to think that someone else will achieve it before (or instead) of you.
They are not you. And, conversely, you are not them.
Sure, someone may do something similar, but they are not expressing YOUR vision, YOUR Dharma. They are expressing theirs.
Feeling discouraged when you see someone else seemingly presenting your ideas is understandable, but where is this feeling of frustration rooted?
It is rooted in ego. It is not coming from your Higher Self.
Our disharmony always comes from ego. We learn to be dissatisfied with life rather than embracing a perception of balance, peace and happiness that is our natural state of being.
I love the metaphor that Mr. Gawdat uses to describe our journey from childhood happiness and alignment to adulthood stress. In his terms, we are like a smartphone: we come with a default setting for happiness, just as a smart device comes from the factory with default settings that the engineers feel are optimum for performance of the device.
As we add apps to our device, or change the settings, we are also altering the performance of the instrument. Sometimes to its detriment.
In our life, we take on faulty beliefs that separate us from our default state of happiness. We feel hurt, we feel disappointed, we perceive loss… all of these things are events, yet instead of viewing them as just events, we deliver larger meaning to them.
One of the biggest barriers we create for ourselves is when we view events as endpoints instead of as waypoints on our journey.
We tell ourselves stories of why these events occurred. These stories tend to reinforce a limiting belief structure that keeps us out of alignment.
An example of this type of faulty thinking is showcased in the phrase, “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” In other words, living in a state of dread that something bad is going to happen, or that because something good just happened (a raise, a new job, a new relationship…) that a balancing or reckoning must be right around the corner.
Why? Because, well life can’t be all good, can it?
No, you are correct. Life will not always be all good. There will always be challenges.
However, we must decide whether we are the victims of challenges, or observers of them.
We are beings of free will. We can choose how we perceive events; we choose the stories that we apply to the things that happen around us.
How can we make this shift in thinking?
LESSON 1: THERE IS NO OTHER SHOE
You’ve probably lived your life weighing good events against bad ones.
This is a learned habit that your ego internalized. It is only a story, one perception of a series of events. It is not true.
In this mode of life, you are nothing more than a teeter-totter shifting helplessly as outside forces tip you left and right. Always seeking balance, you apply perceptional weight to the opposing force.
Just received an unexpected check for your birthday last week… Maybe $50? Huh, the gas bill came due today and it’s $52 higher than normal. Bummer, there goes that windfall.
Received a big (and I mean BIG) promotion at work, bonus included? Uh oh, the water pump in your car just broke… oh, and due to poor engineering on the part of the manufacturer, it took your entire engine out at the same time. Say goodbye to $5,000 for a new one.
Never going to get ahead, right? The Universe is against your success, right?
No. It is not.
In each of these illustrations the negative event that occurred after the positive one HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE POSITIVE EVENT.
They are two entirely separate occurrences. It is only in our mind, from our ego-driven perspective, that they have any connection.
There is no “other shoe.” There are only events. How we define them affects our outlook and happiness.
If you are unwilling to give up the idea that the events are connected, could you view these occurrences differently?
Absolutely. Here’s how:
Let’s use the car example. Remove your promotion from the equation. In this scenario, you are still doing the same job, for the same pay.
Oooops… your car just broke down. Dead engine. Do not pass Go, pay $5,000.
Where will this money come from if you did not get the promotion? How do you feel?
PERSPECTIVE SHIFT: The unexpected bill did not come as punishment because you moved ahead. The positive event occurred so that you could financially navigate the impending problem. The Universe has your back.
Do you feel happier knowing that the money came to help you, rather than the bill coming to punish you?
Let go of the stories of lack that come from your ego and connect back with the higher awareness that comes from aligning with your default state of happiness.
You have the power to choose to define your life differently. Be a victim or be a champion – the choice is yours.
LESSON #2: YOU GET MORE OF WHAT YOU FOCUS ON
As I look at the Amazon reviews for Mr. Gawdat’s book, I am struck by the (as of this writing) 5% of reviewers who give the book only two stars. I’m curious about their perceptions in contrast to the 85% who promote the book as 5-star.
One sentence stands out to me in one of these reviews: “It basically comes down to how to manage your expectations of life. Obviously he has achieved an impressive sense of personal calm, but that doesn't mean that he can teach it.”
And there it is.
This reviewer understood the message of the book, but it seems that he did not want to accept it.
Instead of turning inward to ask himself why he feels this way, he chooses to publicly display his frustration by inferring that Mr. Gawdat cannot teach the subject because this reviewer did not create a shift in his thinking.
That’s ego talking.
I don’t know this person, nor do I have any personal stake in the outcome of his life.
What I do know is that as long as he is in the process of searching for happiness/personal improvement (evident by his purchase of this book) and he is unwilling to accept a new perception of events, then he will not move forward.
As a free-willed human being, that’s his choice. I bless him and wish him well on his journey.
When we’re searching for answers, it’s very easy (frighteningly so) to stay stuck in our old story. That’s more ego-stuff keeping us in a not-so-comfortable comfort zone.
Why are there so many self-help books? Because most of us need help – we have a vision of something better for our lives, but that is not the life we are living. Hence, we feel discord, stress and frustration.
Why isn’t there just one grand “go-to” self-help authority? Because we are all different, and while we are looking for answers within the same space, we each respond to different messaging. Some ideas we embrace that others discard; some ideas that other’s find helpful, we think are bullshit.
Why won’t something new work? The answer comes back “Because nothing has worked before. Why should I trust this? Sounds like the same thing I’ve heard a million times before.”
That voice is a protective mechanism. It’s trying to help you by steering you away from the pain of disappointment. Unfortunately, it can also make you stop short of achieving your goal.
How many swings of a hammer does it take to break a brick wall? Maybe one person can do it in 5, maybe someone else will need 20…. Maybe you’ll need 101.
How would you feel if you found out that you stopped your journey with swing 100?
Maybe you were tired at that moment when you quit. Maybe you were bored or frustrated because you were finding just more brick behind the blocks that you had already chipped away.
Or, maybe it’s because you heard an inner voice saying, “This is useless.”
That voice did not want you to break through the wall.
Let’s take that next swing by changing our perception.
PERCEPTION SHIFT: The Law of Adjustment states that there is a harmony to the universe. I am, and you are, part of that harmony. Happiness, harmony and flow are our natural state.
If you cringed at that sentence, please follow this syllogism:
- The Universe is harmony,
- I am part of the Universe,
- Therefore, I am part of harmony
Now, get over your ego and accept that statement.
You are here on this earth for a purpose. No one else can do it. They may produce something similar, but YOU are here for YOUR unique addition to the body of literature known as human experience.
You are a note in the harmony. Without your participation, the song will not sound the same.
When we accept that our lives have a purpose in something larger, it becomes easier to accept that perceived negative situations actually have a role in our growth. They are lessons.
When we fight the lesson, we are out of adjustment with our Higher Purpose. We’re struggling in ego-land saying things like, “It shouldn’t be this hard,” or “Ugh. I’ll never get ahead.”
When we become aware that we are out of alignment with the Universe, then it is time for us to surrender to what exists, choose to stop struggling and allow our life to come back into adjustment with our purpose.
What does life look like when we choose to live in alignment with our goals and allow happiness to be our default state of being?
We become like one of my favorite characters, Pete the Cat.
Pete came into artist James Dean’s life and then nudged his way into Dean’s art. In recent years, Dean has begun producing children’s books featuring this wonderful cat.
My favorite is, I Love My White Shoes.
What is it about this particular book that I love so much? I love that Pete’s attitude to life is unassailable. He has invincible confidence that cannot be diminished by seemingly unfortunate events.
In this book, James Dean uses Pete to show kids that life does not have to be a series of disappointments due to external events.
As Pete’s white shoes change colors, Pete loves each new hue as much as the previous one. He continues singing his song, changing only the name of the color as he dances down the street.
For Pete, all is well, no matter what. His life is flow. Each state is perfect as he experiences his life. In every moment, he knows that he is exactly where he is supposed to be and accepts that situation with grace and peace.
Yet, there are still those who do not understand this message. They illustrate resistance to flow.
Here’s a snippet from a review:
“Bright, childlike illustrations show the long-limbed feline regularly altering his footwear but continuing not to watch where he's walking. The moral of the story keep going no matter what happens to you in life may sound like good advice, but it doesn't instill any sense of power in children it just tells them to accept their fate. Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI”
While it is practical advice that one should watch where one is walking, sometimes obstacles are unavoidable.
This book is not about the acceptance of fate. It is about choosing not to frame temporary situations as defeatist losses.
Will you keep going when your white shoes turn red, or blue, or yellow, whining that you no longer have white shoes, or will you choose the power of accepting your new reality and adjust accordingly?
Pete, like Mo Gawdat, recognizes his situation and chooses how he will respond to it. He chooses happiness.
Living this way is about being so in tune with yourself that nothing outside of you can harm your perception of your strength and happiness.
That’s instilling real power in children (of all ages).
What is the biggest challenge you see in your life today? What obstacle do you struggle to overcome?
Your homework this week is to look beyond it. Become an observer of it and realize that it is your current state of being.
What thoughts do you have about this state of disharmony? What negative perceptions are you carrying?
Write all of these negative ideas down on a sheet of paper. Fold it over, seal it tight. Make it so secure that it’s as if these ideas can’t escape.
On the outside of the packet that you just created, write the answer to this question:
“What do I need to do to overcome these feelings/perceptions? How do I minimize their influence on my life?”
From this moment forward, when these frustrations come to mind, remember this piece of paper. You merely need to connect with that solution to reduce or remove the obstacle.
What are the thoughts you would like to have about your intended outcome? How would you feel if you waved a magic wand and *WHOOSH* your dream was suddenly your reality?
Take a deep breath, close your eyes and mediate on these positive thoughts and feelings. Bring them into the present moment and replace the old negative thoughts with these ideas.
Do this every day. Live your life, express yourself, as though this vision is your life now.
Until next week, make it so.