Don’t let them steal your happy. Tattoo it on your brain!
If I Do, Then It Will. That was the name of a game. How it went was like this: If I lose 20 pounds, then I will be happy. Or my father will come back. The people who have been lost to me will reappear like they’d been out having massages or dinner, perhaps just stepping in from the cold, Hello Jen! We’ve missed you. You look so thin.
If I am a good person then it will fix me. If I do, then it will.
I have notes scattered throughout all my old college notebooks regarding the rules of this game. Don’t eat. Be good. Do your work. Run for one hour.
The game never worked. If never preceded then. In fact, it usually precluded it. I starved myself and instead of the desired effect of being happy, I became a zombie. I’d sleep walk through my days and eat in my sleep. I hated myself. The revenant never woke. My life never became ordered like I’d imagined. I was a bad person and as soon as someone found me out, that’s it, I’d be done. I was a game-player, sleeping-walking and night-eating my way through my pathetic life.
The game is so tempting. It’s like gambling. This time I will win and it will all be different! This is the last time.
The truth is that there is no reward system.
You do or you do not and it’s all for naught. There is nothing waiting for you.
There is no If I do, then it will so you must do and do, or not do, for whatever reasons you have or don’t have, and not because you think there will be any sort of prize. Let me be the last to tell you, there won’t be.
The game I invented will break your heart.
No one comes back from the dead. And no matter how skinny or fat you are, you are there, right there. See yourself? That’s you. You. You are the same you. The pain doesn’t disappear unless you take it by the throat and talk to it. It does not go by way of bribing. The game does not work. The game sucks.
There is no game.
You must do things because you love.
The other night I read on Facebook that an old friend, a man I’d known casually for over 15 years, had been evicted and was homeless. He’d written that he desperately needed somewhere to sleep that night. My husband was still in London but I couldn’t not do anything. I’d called the friend, who is 70 years old by the way, and offered him my couch. My husband wasn’t happy, as I’d knew be the case, but I’d made a choice.
It was an awkward two days. He is 70 and I actually don’t know him that well.
I did it out of love. I saw someone who said I am desperate and I said I am here.
All of the times I was playing The If I Do, Then It Will game it was never out of love. It was out of necessity. I was so miserable that I was willing to gamble anything to find pockets of happiness no matter what I had to bet.
Often I would forget to breathe and then I’d spend the next few breaths catching up on the last ones so I was always behind a breath or two like someone that seemed desperate for air.
Like someone who was always almost dying.
So I took my friend/aquaintance in knowing there was no guarantee after this. That is what the game was about, isn’t it? Guarantees.
If I starve myself, then I can achieve things.
All I hoped to achieve by taking him in was giving him a bed for two nights. Much to the chagrin of my beloved husband, who was not at all happy with me, although he thought I was kind and compassionate. He didn’t want men in the house that he didn’t know when he wasn’t there. Which I get. And to which I still say You would have done the same thing.
Look, I can’t see that someone is desperate and walking the streets when I have a couch. Someone I know. It’s colder in L.A. then I can ever remember. The low today was 39 degrees in Santa Monica. I couldn’t let him just wander.
My friends said they could have.
We all went to dinner the other night (as the “homeless” friend was at my apartment without me being there, in fact) and they claimed they probably wouldn’t have done the same thing. I told them that they would have.
That’s how our hearts our wired: To care. To hurt. To bleed. To fall in love. To want to play the game of If I do, then It will because that game is meant to bring happiness. The goal is always May I be happy.
Most of us anyway.
I promised my husband that when he got back my friend would be off the sofa and I’d kept the promise. I can’t take my friend’s plight on but my instinct is to want to fix and help and heal and offer my sofa.
The revelation I had when I stopped playing my game of If I do Then It Will, was that what I operate from a place of love, there are no guarantees beyond this moment.
There’s the: Here’s my sofa.
There’s the: Here, have nice hot shower.
There’s the: You need a couple bucks?
There’s the: I love you. What can I do for you?
There the: I am doing this because I love myself now not because I think someone who has been dead 20 years will rise back up or I will suddenly be free of sorrow. It’s because I love myself now, in this moment. Not because I am waiting for a prize for being good.
If you or ever ever catch ourselves doing any of these things for any other reason than I love you or I care about you or I just want you to have a warm bed and maybe a hot chocolate then look in the mirror.
When you get to the mirror, reach out. Touch your face. It will be flat and cold as mirrors are. It will look like you but it won’t at the same time. You must know that beyond that glass, if you were to break it, is nothing. You are not there.
You are here.
So, fuck the mirror. Reach up and touch your face. And close your eyes.
What you feel is the face of someone who knows that no matter what is done, unless its done from love, it might as well be undone. Feel your own face. If you don’t love it by now you better realize that the game doesn’t work. That there is no prize. That you doing this, that, or the other thing won’t bring you a new face or a new heart or a new anything at all.
That if you do anything at all it must be for this.
What is this? you might ask. Or maybe you already understand.
This is love.
This is it.
By Jen Pastiloff
Listen up. You love someone? Tell them. You want to see someone? See them. You want to do something? Do it. Stop making excuses.
A couple months ago one of my readers Rose Alma posted on my page that she was in the hospital after having had a double lung transplant and could I come visit her while I was in Atlanta? Naturally, a million excuses came up as to why that would be hard. (I was only there for the weekend. I didn’t have a car. I was busy leading a workshop and bla bla bla.)
I told my excuses to “buzz off” and I went. I went and my life was changed. That’s all it took. Meeting that sweet little light was all I needed to make a huge difference in my life. A huge remarkable difference. Now, had I not gone to see her because of x, y or z? Well, she would have died today and I would have never known how so much joy could emanate from a tiny sick little body. I would never have understood, I mean REALLY really understood what it meant to be gracious in the face of uncertainty, in the face of possible death. I would never have had my life touched. Nor would my sister or my young nephew. Rosie passed away today due to complications from cystic fibrosis and I am heartbroken but I am grateful I had that time with her. I experienced that connection. I could have easily have not. I could have easily said “I am too busy” because, let’s face it, we are all busy. We all have too much to do.
But here’s the thing: nothing is guaranteed. So if you want something, go get it. If you love someone, show them. If you think you are owed anything beyond this moment, you are in for a wake up call of the hardest kind. The truest wake up call there is. And that is that there are no guarantees. That the time is now. That if we spend our lives saying “I can’t” or “I am too busy” we are missing the beauty. We are missing the roses.
I love you Rose Alma. RIP
Below is a guest post Rosie did in October on The Manifest-Station….
The Hunt is Over, Happiness is Yours by Rose Alma
What is happiness? If I may, I will tell you what it is not. Happiness is not external. It is not an object that we must perpetually chase after. The world has often taught us that happiness is in the material. That we have to pay for it: sacrifice our money and our time, our sanity and our soul to find it. But happiness is something so much more. Something so much deeper, and yet so simple and close. It is something dear and unique to wonderful you.
Happiness is within you. Just as true peace and happiness is already within all beings. We all have the capacity to discover it and genuinely feel it. And it is time you knew this beautiful truth.
If you are having trouble believing this, I ask you to honestly examine all the aspects that currently make up your life. Are you really freeing yourself from the things that do not positively serve you? While you quietly think this over, allow me to explain where I am coming from:
Personally, I am on a neverending journey to expand my consciousness. My struggles with my health, and my journey through the beginning stages of the transplant experience, have been the primary forces that have launched me into this new phase of my life. And I am grateful for the thrust they have given me into genuinely examining who I am as a living being, where I am going, and what ultimately means the most in my life and in this world. The majority of what I read and listen to is all centered around these very subjects: truth, understanding, transformation, and love. All of it intended to help my overall well-being, and to expand my heart and consciousness. Over the last 50+ days, I’ve also dedicated myself to daily meditation. And this in itself has added a whole new depth to my personal journey. Along the way, I have learned so much about myself and about the world (and I continue to). Although I never want to tell others how to live, the vibrancy, energy, and love that is unfolding within me can’t help but extend out to others – to all the beautiful souls who may be able to learn something with me on this journey.
So here are some practices that may help us come closer to our true happiness:
1) Release. We must let go of anything in life that causes us stress or negativity. These elements limit our potential for exploring our true selves and finding our authentic happiness. Though this process of letting go may not always be easy, in the end, we will benefit in ways we may never have imagined possible. So let us release that which no longer serves us.
2) Embrace. One of the hardest practices yet, which I am continuously working on, is embracing change. Because it is an inevitable force; and there is much to gain when we open our arms to change. In what I have been reading and meditating on, they mention that when positive changes come into our lives (job promotion, new baby) we generally welcome the new chapter. But when something unexpected happens – something that may be considered a loss rather than a gain – we close ourselves off to it or resist (like job loss, divorce, moving away). They say that we should pause in those moments of stress or sadness over the unexpected change, and be open to the idea that though this change is hard or not exactly what we wanted, there could be something positive to come of it in the end. Even if we can’t see or predict what it might be. This simple act of opening our mind and heart could make a world of difference in how that change impacts our lives. If we can just continually work, in those moments of struggle or despair, to be open to the light at the other side, it will make the journey through the change so much more beautiful.
3) Explore. Once we have begun to release what does not serve us, and embrace the coming changes of our lives, we are ready to open our hearts and minds to the idea of exploring new sides of our being. We need to seek out new experiences and people who will help us better know and understand our truest self. We must try things that feel both naturally interesting to us, and things that seem outside our comfort zone. (As long as they are safe and healthy.) Pushing ourselves to break past self-imposed barriers, and try things that we might never do otherwise, will allow us to blossom authentically and beautifully. Take up new hobbies, travel, make new friends, write a novel, learn a new language, volunteer at a shelter. We have to learn to step outside the mold we live in – that is, the person that we think we have to be – and start learning to become who we were born to be. And only we, as individuals, can know who that beautiful being is and feel when we are one with them.
4) Give. In order to fully understand and love ourselves, we must learn to step outside ourselves. Look beyond just our needs and desires, and consider the life and world around us. We must realize that there is a little piece of us in everyone, all the world around. And that we should give to all those beautiful souls. Some people need basic necessities, some need guidance, some need just an extra ounce of love, and some could be changed simply by the gentle power of a genuine smile. We must willingly give of ourselves, in whatever ways we can manage. Volunteer at places that meet our interests, help friends in need, be loving towards family, be kind to strangers and children, and always greet a person with a loving heart and kind smile. We can never give too much. And every time we do give, it adds more love to the world around.
5) LOVE. Love is the ultimate answer to all questions in life. It may take time to realize this, and there may be times in life when we bury this truth so deep in the dirt. But it is always there. Once we realize that love is there – even in the dirt, even in the darkness, even in the loneliness and despair – life will be forever changed. We will be forever changed. Time, distance, and differences have no hold on love. It travels everywhere and permeates everything. All we have to do is open our hearts and minds to this beautiful truth. And we must choose, every day, every moment, to live a life of love. Even when times are dark. Especially when times are dark. Because love still lives in the dark. It lives even there, so that we may grab hold of it when everything else falls away. Love is our light post. And it will show us the way to the other side.
These loving practices are what I am learning along my great journey in life. I wanted to share them with you, and hopefully illustrate how I feel you can learn with me. I am not one to tell others how to live, but please try to allow these ideas into your heart. Know that happiness is already within you, change doesn’t have to seem so daunting, and love is always around you and within you. You deserve to be free of anything in life that places negativity on you. And you deserve to give yourself a fair chance at exploring all the possibilities that the world and life have to offer. I want only for you to realize the depth of potential in you, and for you to know that the pathway to greater freedom – whether external or internal – just takes one step at a time.
Our lives and circumstances may be vastly different. But, we are one.
Let us walk together on this path to greater consciousness, happiness, and love.Rose Alma is a 25-year-old Cystic Fibrosis patient on the transplant list for double-lungs. Ten years of exacerbations and IV treatments eventually lowered her lung function post-college. She has been listed at University of Alabama for almost two years, and is presently trying to get double-listed at Emory in Atlanta. An artist and poet, Rose also has a Baccalaureate in Education. Though she always dreamt of teaching preschool, her health has driven her to explore new realms. She has created short films, music, poetry, and also enjoys vegan cooking and meditation. Post-transplant she hopes to practice yoga, regularly volunteer in her community, and become a Certified Holistic Life Coach. Visit her Facebook, or her website We are one.
Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.
– Margaret Lee Runbeck
We are what suns and winds and waters make us. ~ Landor
The flight back from China and I am so close to Hui I feel his breath on my neck. Over the engine, over all the cranky people folded into seats too small for their rice-filled bodies I almost don’t hear him tell me his secret:
Always smile, Never worry.
But when his hot breath settles on my left cheek, I understand what he is saying-
A potion for your stomach, for your chi
through that yellow smile of his.
He presses a small bottle of Hui’s Chi Liquid into my palm.
I have a lot of poison in my body he can tell this just by looking at me, he says.
I am seduced by people like him: Clairvoyants.
Hui, what’s going to happen to me?
His shoulder pressed into mine and I don’t mind. I like Hui.
I am safe up here in the sky with my smiling clairvoyant.
He is thin, a slip of a thing, and I wonder if large numbers of people spend their entire lives crammed on boats, earning their living moving goods and people over the lakes does that mean that Hui and I can survive up here in the sky in this airtight cabin? Forever?
Coasting over clouds, viewing everything from such a height that nothing seems so bad anymore.
We would be so far removed from it all. Our perspective would change accordingly.
We had ridden together on the houseboats in Suzhou as old women pushed water out of their way, the geography of their bodies as various as that of their land: dense and vital to the earth.
Those women understood the interaction between a natural environment and human patterns; they have broken the code.
They know who they are, what they must do.
They will not be broken.
What has made me?
Which materials am I built from?
Have I been broken?
Hui and I had sat on the boat shivering, slapped by the January air. A kind of cold you can never prepare for.
The personality of the cold there on the Suzhou River strong willed and ancient.
Upon returning to New York we will have a new understanding of temperaments, of tenacity.
It was that kind of cold.
The kind to teach us lessons, to trigger our memories when we are feeling slack and numb to the world- the kind of cold to wake us from sleep and remind us what it means to be alive and sliding down a river in China on a dark and dreary dinghy.
Trace decay hypothesis is where information in the long term memories decays with time. This will not happen in our minds!
Our fate is sealed! The cold has entered us!
Whether we will remember it isn’t the question.
It’s: how long before we remember it again?
How long before we will feel that alive again?
**This piece was originally written when I was about 21 years old.
I had a crash course in, “HOW TO BE HAPPY WHEN YOUR LIFE TAKES A DETOUR!” ….
My family was hit hard by the economy. The financial stress was creating turmoil in our lives. Once we made the decision to downsize and do what was best for our family, our lives increased a hundred fold…..
Click below to read more of this amazing post
The Weekend DMC.
You Could Be Happy.
I play this song all the time in my yoga classes. It’s by by friends in the band Snow Patrol, who incidentally make me very happy. (Remember last year they donated a guitar signed by all the band members for my GAMEYoga.org fundraiser? For no other reason than just to be nice!)
I think this song is just a beautiful reminder of those 4 magic words: You Could Be Happy.
I dare you.
This weekend’s DMC is about being happy.
In every moment there is a choice.
To be happy or not. And here’s the deal. For those of you that feel that you don’t deserve to be happy, for whatever reason, I am here to tell you: That is BS. You do! You deserve be happy.
And you shall.
And so it is.
By doing things that make you happy. By doing things and being with people that make you feel good.
Are you ready for the ride?
In the comment section below please list all the things that make you happy.
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” Wayne Dyer of course.
And again by him: You cannot get sad enough to make another person happy.
So go on. Get happy and tell us how you got there.
Happiness is the way, Manifesters.
The only way.
Manifest Your Life,
One Laugh at a Time,
PS, My list is long but would start like this….
My happy list: skyping with nephews, watching movies with my husband, having a nice glass of red, a big belly laugh, Modern Family, Snow Patrol, Annie Carpenter’s yoga Class, dancing, when my yoga classes sing and dance, sleeping in, teaching the kinds with special needs yoga, writing, this blog, The Good Wife, getting letters in the mail, giving gifts, photographs, hats, bright sneakers, massages, candles and fireplaces, and on and on.