Suspended Sentences

I’ve made it something of a mission recently to be a happier person. Not that I’m an unhappy or miserable person, but I have noticed how often and how easily I seem to drift into states of irritation or discouragement or loneliness—and stay there longer than I really want to. Sometimes the irritation or discouragement isn’t even about anything specific that I can easily identify. I would blame something like PMS but last time I checked that was not a viable explanation in my case.

So I started talking to the Team about being happy—or happier in general. And as I started looking more closely at this desire of mine, I also found myself wondering to Them, why does it seem so much easier so much of the time, to stay unhappy?

What you are really observing here is classic law of attraction. You think irritating or discouraging thoughts or give your attention to irritating or discouraging things in your experience—either consciously or not—and you get irritation or discouragement in return. Then as you give your attention to the irritation or discouragement that are you now feeling, you become or continue to be a match to other irritating or discouraging thoughts and it just snowballs from there. You get more of what you are giving your attention to.

The compounding problem with that is that in addition to this already uncomfortable state of affairs, you then also observe that you are helping to create this irritation or discouragement—or whatever it is in your experience that you don’t like—and then on top of the unpleasant feelings that you are creating and perpetuating . . . you begin judging yourself for the fact that you are creating and perpetuating it. It really is a pretty airtight rock and a hard place that you place yourselves in. It’s sort of the equivalent of spilling ink or coffee all over your homework because you weren’t being very careful about what you were doing—and then giving yourself a really good thrashing on top of already feeling pretty bad about the whole mishap.

In effect—and in general—you are not so careful about the direction of your thoughts. You get a bit sloppy about what you focus on. . . and so particularly when you are not being more thoughtful or deliberate about your thinking, you thoughts often go to what is most apparent or most active in your experience . . . If irritation or discouragement or some other negative emotion has been or is still pretty active part of your vibration or your general mood . . . then it’s all too easy to drift back in that direction. . . to fall back into what are more familiar or practiced patterns of perceiving your experience. More than likely you’ve been practicing irritation or discouragement in one way or another for quite some time so it comes rather easily to you . . . and then as you return your attention to it . . . you get more of same.

But rather than staying stuck in that unsatisfying loop and then punishing yourself on top of it . . . try a new routine. When you feel the irritation or discouragement moving back in . . . as you notice yourself heading back in that direction . . . make the effort to gently stop where you are . . . acknowledge what you are doing . . . and then find any way that you can to softly turn your attention in a different direction. Don’t make a federal case out of it. Don’t stomp and scream or weep and wail or give yourself 50 lashes . . . Instead, see if there is anything else in your vicinity that feels a little better to think about . . . See if there is a way to be amused with yourself rather than disappointed or frustrated. See this sort of moment as an opportunity to practice something else rather than another excuse to beat yourself up.

It is much better if you can say, “Alright, I’m irritated” or “I’m depressed or discouraged” . . . now what do I want to do about it? Do I want to keep at it and see how much more irritated or depressed I can get . . . . or do I want to see where else I can take myself from here without making into such a big hairy deal?

Relax your need to be perfect . . . and give yourself more room and more freedom to practice and to play with improving the way you feel under whatever conditions you find yourself in. Spend more time in rehab than in jail over your perceived offenses . . . Ideally, learn to laugh about these times when you are really just forgetting who You really are . . . and if you can’t laugh where you stand . . . at least give yourself permission to be where you are and to gently, gradually move from there to a place that is closer to where you would like to be.

Suspend the harsh sentence that you normally impose upon yourself for not quite measuring up . . . Teach yourself the ways of freedom patiently and compassionately . . . and you will find yourself with more and more reasons to be proud of the happier and happier citizen you are becoming.

I wish I’d talked to them about the speeding ticket I got not too long ago . . .

Sometimes I feel like one of the luckiest mystics in this great big Universe. How cool is it to start off a blog feeling like I want to just kick my mystical ass and end up feeling like I’ve just been pardoned and I’m free to go?

I know my work is cut out for me. I’ve got quite a stash of accumulated irritations and discouragements gathered over the years. So maybe I won’t lose them all at once or overnight . . . but it’s nice to know I can decide to lighten that load anytime I really want to . . . if only a little.

Becoming a happier, freer me seems worth the practice it will likely take. It’s certainly a happier prospect than any of the alternatives that come to mind . . . and that leaves me feeling not only less irritated, less discouraged, but also less inclined, for the moment, to give myself an even harder time for not feeling altogether complete.


About Dan

Published novelist, poet, essayist, copywriter, photographer and college educator. Visit me at

Posted on August 20, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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