I was talking on the phone a couple of nights ago to a friend whom I haven’t talked to in a while. We were doing the usual catching up on news when he asked me how I was. I gave the usual “Oh, I’m fine” response, but he persisted. “Are you happy?” he asked, and he really wanted to know. I stopped and thought for just a moment and discovered that I could truthfully say that I am. I am happy.
It felt good to acknowledge that. The last week or two has been filled with a lot of good things—from some significant amounts of rain (finally! yay!) to kind gestures from several friends to a few bits of unexpected good news trickling in here and there. I have several areas in my life that are in the midst of change or the beginnings of new things that all are looking very promising. It feels really good to be able to sit back and see so many blessings sprinkling in throughout all different areas of my life.
I am happy in a calm, contented kind of way. I am also feeling quite hopeful that these changes and new possibilities will bring additional good things my way. And I’m noticing that this brings up resistance in me. Hope has not always been a good thing for me. It’s a fragile little bird that is all too easily crushed.
The part of me that is my curious observer self is able to sit back and watch this resistance flare up without getting roped into the stories. I notice myself thinking about times when my hopes have been dashed before and telling myself that I should lower my expectations before I get disappointed again. There’s this cynical voice inside that keeps saying that anything that looks good or hopeful or promising must not be real. I’m already spinning stories of possible failure.
The upside is that I am more aware of this pattern than I used to be, so I can watch my mind play its games without getting emotionally hooked into them. I can intellectually acknowledge the importance of going into these new situations with reasonable expectations, and this gives me the ability to meet this little gremlin full of disastrous stories with gratitude for its hard work to try to protect me.
When I notice the stories going through my head about what may be coming, I can choose to entertain those that are hopeful and realistic—neither expecting perfection nor disaster. I can choose to keep my heart open to what comes my way whether it meets my initial expectations of what I think I want or not.
Most of all, I can recognize that it is all story. None of it is real. The only thing that is real is this moment right now. And when I’m fully in the present moment, those stories fade away like the dreams and illusions that they are. I’ll save the emotional drama and the disasters and the dreamed-up stories for the page where they are the most useful.
So yes, my friend, I am happy. And I am hopeful in a balanced way. And in this moment, which is the only one I ever have, life is good.
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