by Brian Tom O'Connor
In my book, Awareness Games, I talk about that “happy for no reason” feeling that the games are designed to achieve. Yes, that feeling is available at the drop of a hat, with a little practice. But is it really a feeling? And do we need to figure out a way to feel this way all the time? Do we need to try to exclude all other feelings from our experience, particularly the so-called negative emotions like fear, loneliness, anger, anxiety, shame, and sadness? I don’t think we do.
It’s a paradox, but I discovered that a sure-fire way of failing to generate this happy feeling is to try to bring it about when I’m feeling otherwise. In fact, when I play an Awareness Game and fail to feel “better,” in every case, without exception, the reason is one of two things: I’m trying to create a desired feeling or I’m trying to stop feeling an undesired emotion.
As soon as I realize this, and stop trying to change how I’m feeling right now, but instead, drop my attention to the background awareness in which the feeling is appearing, I instantly get that “happy for no reason” feeling, even if I’m still feeling bad. In fact, for me, it’s absolutely essential to drop all internal clutching against a negative feeling and not only completely allow it to be here, but even dive into it and allow myself to feel it fully. Being the background awareness at the same time helps to do this. Noticing what else appears in awareness right now helps to do this. Relaxing physically helps to do this. I find I can be happy while I’m sad, angry, anxious. That’s the glorious paradox.
Why? Because the background awareness already allows every feeling to be here. It doesn’t discriminate between good feelings and bad, between happy and sad events. It simply notices everything without judgement. This is unconditional love, and it’s already happening in some part of you right now, all the time. All you have to do is notice it. And unconditional love is happiness, and happiness is our true nature already. Not something we have to bring about, but simply something we have to notice.
So happiness is not something we get from the outside world, and not something that requires the absence of negative emotions or events. It’s simply our true nature as the screen or white board on which all experience appears.
Have your feelings. Have them fully. Notice what is aware of them. Be that awareness.