Have you ever read The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris? It’s so good. His thesis is that our obsession with happiness is what makes us miserable.
It’s an excellent read that I regularly recommend to clients.
Here’s why — I can’t tell you how often I notice people attaching to their peak emotions like bliss, joy, peace, etc. — and even judging themselves as successful or good when they feel these things. In turn, they judge themselves as bad or wrong when they experience emotional lows like anger or sadness. Sometimes, I do that too.
The other day, I had such a juicy meditation. Ohhh it was so good! I found myself on another plane of existence entirely. Deeply relaxed. Swimming in the theta state. “Bliss” doesn’t even do it justice.
But as I came out of meditation, I noticed two texts from a family member.
They were friendly texts, but my subconscious childhood programming still triggers a “red alert” response when I hear from this person.
My meditation “high” dipped slightly. I felt annoyed.
The Witness in me noticed how tightly I wanted to grasp my delicious peak experience and not let it go. I could see myself gripping the high of meditation and wanting to linger there.
But here’s the problem: grasping and aversion are twins. Whether I’m holding fast to my bliss or running from my sadness, it amounts to the same thing. Grasping and aversion are both manifestations of attachment and they both lead to suffering.
So as I soaked in the glow from my lovely meditation, I took a deep breath and said out loud — “this isn’t me either.”
I’ve been saying “this isn’t me either” to remind myself that all emotions are temporary — including the highs. Anything temporary is by definition not me.
Saying these four words brings such a feeling of openness and freedom to my mind. A loosening of the grip.
And (this might surprise you) stepping back from bliss doesn’t lessen my enjoyment of it one bit. If anything, it allows me to appreciate it more.
It’s wonderful, and I invite you to try it too.
Holding peak experiences lightly
In The Happiness Trap, Harris talks about how if you grasp something tightly — like a butterfly — you run the risk of killing it.
Joy is like that too.
How would you hold a beautiful butterfly in your hand? Perhaps with a light touch.
That’s the way to hold your peak emotions as well.
When you can hold all your emotions lightly, instead of resisting or grasping at them, suffering starts to fall away.
One of the biggest gifts of saying “this isn’t me either” is that when a painful state comes back around, I find I’m significantly less afraid of it. Because I’m significantly less attached to it.
That’s pretty freaking amazing.
In fact, when I say the same words to my sadness — this isn’t me either — my mind actually believes it.
Try it sometime.
If I’m not my emotions, then who am I?
Most of us identify with our thoughts and feelings. As a result, life feels like an endless roller coaster ride. One minute you’re up, and the next you’re down.
It’s a dramatic way to live.
If you’re feeling the roller coaster ride at the moment — either the high or the low —consider the possibility that you’re wrong about who you are. Say “this isn’t me either” which then begs the question “who am I?”
Ask the one and only question that really matters: WHO AM I?
You are beyond comfort. And beyond discomfort.
The thing that you are is unchanging. Beyond the ups and downs.
What you are is brilliant, expansive, beyond time and space.
When you identify with your Higher Self, you get off the crazy roller coaster of highs and lows. Life gets less dramatic and more like a miracle.
It’s not that roller coaster stops. It’s that you realize you’re not even ON the roller coaster. And that you never were.
What a relief!
So if you’re going to grasp onto something — let it be your “I AM” presence. Your Higher Self.
Find out who you are. Find the eternal magnificence within. Attach yourself to that, and never let it go.