Let Go of Fear and Live a Happy Life.
This sound advice is what I mostly hear or read every time I watch a video or read an article or book.
And it is so true. Fear, in its many forms and shapes, is holding us back from living a happy life.
Unfortunately, this is where most of the videos, articles and books stop.
After having gone into detail about the silliness of giving into fear and what it is doing to our lives, they leave us with the advice to face and conquer our fears and then from there live the happy life we want.
Sure, let’s do that.
The truth of the matter is, however, that is not going to happen for most of us.
The questions that always remain are; how do I let go of my personal fears in my personal life that is so different from everybody else’s? How do I apply the wisdom from the videos and books I watch and read in my life? Where is the connection with my unique doubts, worries and anxieties?
This is where most people get stuck. And then they watch another video, read another book or join the next seminar…without getting the answers they are hoping to get.
So often I can see people being thrilled and excited about the wisdom they have heard or read. But then they go back to the reality of their lives and feel instantly powerless. It is much like that short story from Hans Christian Anderson; “The Little Match Girl”. When the beautiful small flame went out, there was nothing left of the comforting scene she had been watching seconds before.
We know that fear comes from our doubts, worries and anxieties but where do they come from and why do they exist? What if we could answer this question in the first place?
It seems that one of the main reasons for our presence on this planet is learning and evolving. If that is true, which I personally believe, then to learn and evolve, we consistently need to be confronted with new challenges and obstacles.
For this, we have been equipped with a fantastic brain that is able to solve problems and consolidate what we have learned for future use.
So far, so good.
But as if it were a trick from the gods, embedded in our brain is a dislike for uncertainty resulting in the tendency that once we have figured out something, we want to stick to it and never change it again, unless we can make it better.
Here we meet again with the basic survival drive that forces us to always move away from danger and pain to safety and pleasure.
We are hard-wired to resist against giving up most of what we have learned or gained and only want to go forward with more and better.
This strategy may be the best when living in caves like our far ancestors did but not always in our complex modern society.
Holding on to what we have means we stay on the outlook for whatever may challenge the status quo.
This is where doubts, worries and anxieties enter the picture. Consciously or unconsciously we question everything about ourselves and our environment.
“I know that if I would do this or that, my life will be better than it was but…can I do it? Am I strong, smart and worthy enough to accomplish the task? What if I fail…?”
“Failing would already feel terrible for me but what would others think of me when I fail? What would that mean for my position and status? Will people still support and love me?”
“Would I feel safe anyway, or will others take advantage of me?”
These are just a few examples of the questions that run in our minds almost permanently although we know that 40 percent of our worries never happen, 30 percent is history and can’t be undone, and 10 percent is the concern of others. In other words, 80 percent of our worries are sucking time and energy away from the issues we can actually do something about, of which about half are about our health.
Doubts, worries and anxieties are the guardians that keep us where we are and prevent us from doing what may harm us. The means they use are shame, remorse, guilt and anxiety. The first two relate to the past. Anxiety is about the future and projects a failure of the past forward into the future that way preventing us from trying and failing again.
Doubts, worries and anxieties originate in a fixed mindset that is unable to deal with the uncertainties of life and demanding to keep things the way they are. The result of our fixed view about ourselves and our environment is that we never seem to be able to stop trying to align reality with how we view the world.
Our fixed mindset is based on the three guardians that, with the best intentions, perceive every change as a threat and therefore want to protect us and keep us where we are and the habit of worrying.
Read those last three words of the previous sentence again; “habit of worrying”. The majority of the pain and suffering we go through on a daily basis are because we worry out of habit.
Here we are; how to put an end to worrying for no reason and start being happy for no reason?
Short answer: by accepting and relaxing into the uncertainty of life and stop viewing the world through our unique filter made up of ideas and opinions we erroneously perceive as the absolute and objective truth.
A good indication we are viewing ourselves, others and the world as a whole through our filter is when we feel uncomfortable with what we see, hear or feel. If we don’t put the break on and habitually follow this feeling of uneasiness, we invariably activate the built-in survival instinct that forces us to move away from the discomfort we experience to our known and familiar reality we call safety.
The thing is, if we stick to our view of the world and safety, it will be us against the rest of the world which is a fight we can never win. Unless we wake up and let go of our ego and view of the world, we will continue to suffer.
If learning and evolving is why we are here on this planet, then giving up our false believes about safety and security coming from our fixed ideas is a worthwhile cause. It would certainly mean living a much more rewarding, fulfilling and happier life.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
~ The Serenity Prayer
No magic pill, button or any one-size-fits-all solution. We need to do the deep work ourselves and open up to how things really are, accepting and appreciate what is, be forgiving and kind to ourselves and others and surrender to the uncertainty of life trusting that we are safe and that things always work out.
I would like to end with these three suggestions from the Buddha; commit to not cause harm with your actions or thoughts, to help others and to embrace the world just as it is.
I invite you to visit my website patrickstreppel.com and send me a message with your comments and questions or if you would like to explore how we can work together to experience a happier life for yourself, someone else or a group of people you represent.