The Joy of Misery Part II: An Alternate Universe

                                               Randy W. Green, Ph.D.

                       “Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”                                                                                               Joseph Campbell

Previously, (see Part I) it was noted that many people are most comfortable when they are uncomfortable; and it has to do with where they place their attention. Unfortunately, what is often most familiar—and therefore, most comforting—is to notice for the events and people associated with anxious or depressing internal experiences. We watch the evening news, or retain and rehash previous unpleasant conversations and circumstances that generate the familiar sense of misery.

In short, these people make choices from an inhibitory perspective or “universe”, which is focused upon flaws, problems and limitations, things that are not working, choices that represent moving away from obstacles. Any selections are then based on this negative position (literally, a position held within the body at the neuro-muscular level!). A common example is “worst-case scenarios”, “least-restrictive alternatives” and so forth. Often, someone in this position becomes stuck—incapable of deciding because for any perceived choice, the expectation is failure or some form of unpleasantness.

But there is an alternate universe from which people make decisions: the excitatory perspective, in which people orient both their bodies and minds toward the idea that anything is possible.

Moving toward what is possible, rather than away from what is problematic, essentially involves shifting the places in the environment on which you focus. It involves a “noticing for” what works in life—what most interests you or grabs your attention. And the choices, which follow, are based upon what you truly want in that moment, nor what you are trying to avoid.

So how do you accomplish this? Recall from Part I, some of the myths that drive misery… and begin to drive them differently:

1) My value comes from self – centeredness: When you enter the excitatory state, your senses are focused on what’s possible—what works in your life! The “little voice” in your head changes accordingly, noticing for what is life enhancing in the moment. And there is a corresponding shift in your neuro-musculature as your body comes to rest, as it becomes “centered.” Who you know yourself to be—your value- then becomes a function of this peaceful state of well-being.

2) I need only attend to what sustains me at my best: Once you have accessed a centered, peaceful state within, “controlling yourself” occurs by paying attention to the very experiences – either external environmental events occurring during your day or internally-driven thoughts- that sustain this powerful, positive way of being. In so doing, you are expanding the landscape of your experience or your “comfort zone.”

3) What’s there is what’s present and… not yet present: People who operate from the excitatory state see the positives in life, that which they do want and what is currently there (as opposed to missing). And from a calm, centered position where the focus is upon possibility, their future can inform the present! This is a state in which you consider how a future desired objective could manifest right now—what would need to occur for it to be possible. So (in relation to Part I), “If only my boss would recognize me, I could perform better” becomes, “I need to complete this project and know, specifically, what that entails, so that I will have achieved the recognition I so deserve.”

In essence, moving from misery to bliss involves a shift in which, “I need other people or things to make me happy” is transformed to, “I am already happy and work perfectly; and from this positive, powerful place I can then achieve the outcomes I most desire.” Make the shift, and may your fondest dreams already be true… but just not yet.