The Way Out
Episode #5 of the course How to be happy now … not “then” by Colin Triplett
At this point, there should be no doubt in your mind that your current approach to happiness will inevitably fall short.
So, if spending our time working to get what we want and avoiding what we don’t want is not the way to go, what should we do?
Today, I will share with you the first step toward getting out of your head and moving toward a true sense of peace and happiness.
Today, we will talk about what it means to be “conscious.”
What Is Consciousness?
If this is the first time that you have heard this word being used in this context, it might be confusing. Because unless you are asleep or just got hit over the head with a frying pan, you are conscious!
However, when it comes to your mind, there are two levels of consciousness that pertain to your awareness of the world around you.
A simpler way to think of it is, “presence.”
To be present in the current moment is to be conscious. If you are stuck in your head thinking about the past or future, then you are “unconscious” because you are not really aware of what is going on right now.
Have you ever driven to work, and when you got there, you didn’t actually remember the drive?
The problem is that we do this all the time but don’t realize it.
Think about it this way: Any time you are thinking, you cannot be conscious because you cannot be fully present in a moment when you are paying attention to your thoughts.
It’s like multitasking. While some people claim that they are good multitaskers, the truth is, there is no such thing as multitasking! Your brain can only focus on one thing at once, meaning you can only be present with one thing at a time.
So, if you are focused on your thoughts, you are not focused on what is happening in front of you; therefore, you are not conscious.
Why Being Conscious = Being Happy
The reason this is such an important concept is that all suffering comes from ego and the wants that the ego comes up with.
However, your ego cannot exist in the present moment!
So, the guaranteed approach to getting rid of the ego is to live in the present. As soon as your thoughts start drifting into the future or the past, your happiness will drift away as well.
Now, I know that this is a simple idea, but trust me, it is not easy to implement. Just think about how much of your day you spend thinking about things!
If you are like me, there are actually very few times that you are actually in the present moment. Because of that, there are also very few times that you actually feel at peace.
The first step toward being in the present moment is simply practicing awareness. If you can be aware of what is happening at any given moment, you will pull yourself back into the present.
So, here is your homework for today: Try to stay present with whatever you are doing at that moment. If you are talking with someone, really listen to them and don’t plan your response. If you are driving, pay attention to the cars in front of you, the road, the landscape—not your thoughts.
If you notice that you are focused more on your thoughts (or emotions!) than on the moment in front of you, simply acknowledge that you got sucked in and come back to the moment.
This is such a powerful tool if you work to implement it, because in the end, staying present is a skill. It is not something that you will suddenly master. It takes practice!
It is something that you will work on daily, just like brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t expect one brushing a week to keep your teeth clean, and you shouldn’t expect one article about mindfulness to catapult you into enlightenment!
Tomorrow, I will share the best method to help boost your ability to stay in the present. Until then, start practicing what you have learned!
To Your Happiness,
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
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