Imagine you are startled out of a sound sleep by the most annoying, shrieking alarm you’ve ever heard. You hit the snooze button but the shrieking continues, even louder than before. So you hit the off button, but still it rings. You have to get up, yank the cord out of the electrical socket and throw the alarm against the wall. Got the picture? Well that’s how most of us are awakened out of the dream state that we call life. We go through most of our day on autopilot. Very rarely are our thoughts on the task before us. Not until something goes haywire to get our attention like that annoying shrieking alarm do we realize that we’ve been asleep.
We remember the past and project into the future. The only thoughts we have about the present are in terms of what we did or didn’t do in the past, what we should have done, the consequences of mistakes we’ve made, how it will affect our future, what we wished we would have done, or how we would like the future to turn out. The daily grind gets boring so we fantasize about the vacation we’re going to take six months from now. We watch a lot of television or play video games. We gossip.
And then life takes a turn for the worse. Our world turns upside down calling into question all of our beliefs, hopes, and expectations. We don’t get the raise we’d hoped for or worse yet, we lose our job. We lose our house or at least are in fear of losing it. Someone we trusted and relied upon abandons or cheats on us. We don’t get the respect and admiration we feel we deserve. All we do is complain about our present situation. Our pain turns to suffering. We become frustrated, sad, depressed, angry, disenfranchised with life. Our nerves are frazzled. We pray for an end to our misery with no resolution. Our suffering intensifies. We ask God, what did I do to deserve this? What did I do wrong? Why are you punishing me like this? We sink deep into what’s referred to as a dark night of the soul.
Well, at least that was my experience. Only when I realized that I had placed all of my hopes, dreams, and expectations in a world that can only offer me change, uncertainty, and a pendulum that swings between good and bad, happiness and sadness did I begin to understand why I suffered. Only when I realized that my emotional attachments (addictions really) to people, things, and expected outcomes revealed that I had given away my power. I made others and external experiences responsible for happiness, sadness, and sense of self. When I realize that I had the power to choose happiness regardless of my situation and that I am loved no matter what, did the light bulb go off as well as that annoying alarm clock ringing in my head. At that moment I knew I never had to suffer and that I had the power and the strength to live through anything, even being homeless three times, the loss of the love of my life more than once, and an illness that could have ended my life.
Are you living life unconsciously? Do you go through your day on autopilot rarely focusing on the task before you? Do you watch a lot of TV or play video games till late in the night? Do you think about the past or the future because you’re bored with or regret your present situation? If your world hasn’t turned completely upside down than consider this your courtesy wake-up call. Don’t wait until that crazy clock starts shrieking in your ear and nothing you do turns it off. Wake up. Take your power back. Choose happiness and don’t let others and external experiences control your state of being. There are a lot of techniques that you can use to help wake you up gently, some of which you will find in previous posts here at The Peak.