Freedom from What? Excerpt from Alan Cohen
In the film Broadcast News, a neophyte reporter who is intensely happy, asks a veteran newsman what to do when your real life exceeds your dreams. The elder tells the fellow to just keep it to himself.
The oddest effect of happiness is that other people are annoyed by it. Misery does love company, so a joyful person poses a threat to those steeped in sorrow. This is so for several reasons:
First, people who perceive a reward for being lost, sick, alone, poor, or victimized have an investment in their reality. When someone comes along who challenges that reality, teeth show in an effort to rid the intruder bringing sunshine to a rainy but familiar and dysfunctionally safe domain.
Second, observing a happy person stimulates the psychodynamic of envy. If I want something but haven’t been able to get it, and I see that you have it, your success reminds me of what I am missing. So you become the bad guy for underscoring my pain. One way I can level the playing field is to try to tear you down so we are both groveling.
If these responses to happiness sound sick, irrational, foolish, immature, and self-destructive, they are. But hey, the ego has never been known for its kindness and love to self and others. Shining the spotlight on its trickery is the beginning of loosening its hold and replacing it with thoughts, feelings, and actions that truly serve.
When you choose contentment, happiness, or any other form of positive self-expression, you are likely to encounter people who mis- trust, challenge, criticize, and ridicule you. I remember walking into an office, smiling. Upon seeing me, the secretary snarled, “And what the hell are you so happy about?”
What to do with people who can’t handle your happiness? Don’t let them steal it from you. Hold your space and remember that well-being is far more natural than resistance to it. Don’t take the negativity of others personally, don’t argue with them, don’t try to prove anything, and don’t flaunt your glee. Just live it. Regard their envy or jealousy as a compliment, an indication that your light is obvious. While others may try to tear you down, they do not have the power to do so unless you give it to them. You are connected to Higher Power and they are disconnected. Though they realize it not, your peace is a gift to them. On some level you are touching them. Later they will join you.
If you feel envious of someone who is happier than you are, reframe the experience in your favor. Everyone you observe is a reflection of your own consciousness.
If you are aware of the happiness or success of another person, something inside you is already a match to them. They are mirroring an element of yourself that is emerging. It is only a matter of time, per- haps a short time, until the good you observe in their life will become your own. Appreciate such people as role models and harbingers of the success that you own, deserve, and will manifest.
The world is a smorgasbord of possible realities, and you get to live in the one defined by the vision you choose. All vision is selective. Every encounter, experience, and event is testimony to the vision you are putting into service.
We see more with our mind than with our eyes. If the mind is steeped in judgments and shrouded with fear, the world it shows us bears little resemblance to what life was could be if we let it. We must retrain our vision to see with the inner spiritual eye. When do you get to enjoy the journey? Now, if you choose it.
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. —Antoine de Saint-Exupery, from The Little Prince