Happiness is too important to leave to chance or circumstance. I sometimes joke that I’m determined to learn to be happy even if it kills me! They say that we teach what we most want to learn. I have been giving a good deal of thought about what it takes to be happy, and by working on this book, I have been clarifying happiness for myself; I hope it aids you, too.
This is excerpted from my ebook Happiness and the Michael Teachings: Learning to Embrace What Is, available on Kindle.
Many thanks to Lauren Jensen for transcribing the lecture upon which this is based.
September 10, 2015
I THE MECHANICS OF HAPPINESS
Three Levels of Happiness
Freedom and Refinement
II HAPPINESS SKILLS
Framing Our Experiences
Understanding Our Differences
Balancing Rest, Play, Study, and Work
About the Author
Other Books by Shepherd Hoodwin
THE MECHANICS OF HAPPINESS
Some people seem to come by happiness easily. Either they have a naturally sunny disposition, and/or their life has had relatively few bumps in the road. However, happiness is partly a skill, and we can all improve our happiness chops with practice, as well as by cultivating perspectives that foster it. It is a particularly interesting challenge to start out as someone to whom happiness doesn’t come easily and learn to be happy.
THREE LEVELS OF HAPPINESS
The spiritual aspect of happiness might be referred to as joy. Joy is the surest indicator of spiritual advancement — not how much knowledge we have, our psychic abilities, or so forth. Joy is the highest manifestation of our true self.
Joy could be defined as the free and refined expression of self through our spirit: our energy isn’t blocked but neither is it out of control. All experience, whether joyful or painful, can lead to growth. By becoming more conscious, however, we can choose to grow more through joy and less through pain.
The free and refined expression of self through the personality (mind and emotions) is usually what is meant by happiness. Through the body, we might call it pleasure. Joy, happiness, and pleasure are each beautiful and important to our evolution.
The words used don’t matter; there can also be mental and emotional pleasure, for instance. In this book, I’m going to use the word “happiness” more generally to refer to the free and refined expression of self through all three levels, since the mechanics are similar with each. Body, personality, and spirit aren’t separate — they are the three aspects of self.
FREEDOM AND REFINEMENT
Just as our muscles must both contract and expand, flex and relax, in balance, for us to move, happiness requires both refinement and freedom. Freedom is the cardinal, or expanded, side of happiness. It allows a larger quantity of self to come through because there aren’t barriers. Refinement is the ordinal, or contracted, side: it allows a higher quality of self to come through because there is mastery over its expression. If we open up to too much quantity without quality, we can get to a point where there’s no control and happiness dissipates, like a child who laughs hysterically and ends up crying. If there’s too much quality (control) without quantity (freedom), happiness can be blocked because we’re tense.
Spiritual teachings often emphasize gratitude. Gratitude increases happiness because when we are grateful for something, we embrace it — we love and approve of it — so our energy flows freely through us out to it. It especially affects the quantity side of happiness, but gratitude has a high vibration, so it also improves quality.
Gratitude can exist on all three levels. When our body likes something, such as being touched affectionately, it is grateful for it. Our life force flows out to it, and it forms a circuit with the life force flowing from the other person. That movement of energy gives us pleasure.
When we embrace something intellectually and emotionally, recognizing and appreciating its value, our personality energy flows out to it, forming a circuit that gives us happiness. Emotions are the substance of our personality, and thoughts are the containers. Emotional healing is a large part of creating happiness, because when our emotions are stuck, this flow cannot occur.
The body and personality live on the physical plane, which is a plane of polarity (opposites): light/dark, female/male, sweet/sour, etc. In polarity, we are always weighing things, trying to discern one thing versus another so that we can learn. The goal isn’t to get rid of polarity, which isn’t possible; the goal is to use it constructively. Polarity itself has polarities — it can be used in either a positive (constructive) or negative (destructive) way.
The body naturally moves toward pleasure and away from pain. In the negative pole, it goes out of balance and becomes addicted — it loses refinement in favor of freedom, which becomes license; it gains quantity but loses quality. Or it gains quality but loses quantity by becoming anxious because it is afraid of pain.
The mind uses polarity as comparisons; mental gratitude might compare how much better off we are than others. This can be useful for putting our life into perspective. However, being grateful only because others seem to have it worse can lead to comparisons with those who seem to have it better and complaining about it, which isn’t useful to building happiness. It judges one’s present situation as being wanting rather than loving it as it is. It gains quality (discernment) at the expense of quantity — love stops flowing. Or the mind goes out of balance in the cardinal direction by gaining quantity, being overenthusiastic about the thing it judges good, and losing quality (discernment).
Emotional polarities are similarly built on comparisons. Let’s say that one’s partner is enjoying someone else’s friendship. Emotional gratitude might frame this as one’s circle of love expanding, making more love for all three of them. If one is insecure and contracts, one may become jealous: the comparison concludes that one is getting the short end of the stick. The opposite imbalance could lead to a lack of healthy boundaries. The way we frame our experiences is as important to our happiness as the experiences themselves.
Essence, our core self, is outside polarity and sees all experiences as part of our journey of evolution through the universe. The highest form of gratitude is the gratitude of essence that loves and is grateful for everything, seeing the perfection in all things. When we experience that, it brings joy.
Nature demonstrates unconditional gratitude. Trees, for example, don’t have any judgments against their environment. There are no barriers, so we enjoy that rich oxygen, which is an expression of pure gratitude by the trees, while they enjoy the carbon dioxide we exhale. Our experience of pure gratitude is similar.
In unconditional gratitude we see the value of everything, even if it is something we don’t like. All experiences can teach and deepen us. We look at all people and see that they are perfect exactly the way they are. They provide lessons for themselves and others, and are growing toward their potential.
It doesn’t serve our happiness to pretend that we like something we don’t. It does serve it to embrace what is, changing what we can and making the best of what we cannot. We need not contract our energy because we don’t like something. Finding some way to keep it flowing even in uncomfortable situations is a key to happiness.
As our consciousness rises into alignment with essence, we are better able to transcend polarity and therefore use it constructively. We are no longer controlled by it, tossed from one extreme to another. We no longer participate in the illusory war of good versus evil. We reside in equanimity. We discern the polarities, but see everything as a perfect part of the whole. Being human, we still have likes and dislikes, but they aren’t extreme or inflexible.
Essence is ultimately what we are. Our experiences are the raw material for growth, but the actual growth occurs when we open it up to the light of essence. That is how we transform our soul from a lump of coal into a diamond. That is what joy is.
Judgmentalness is the negative side of polarity (discernment is the positive). The Garden of Eden story (and similar stories in cultures all over the world) says that humans were kicked out when they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A lot of people interpret that as meaning that when humans gained knowledge (intellect), they lost the garden. But that’s not what it says — it says the knowledge of good and evil; in other words, when humans became judgmental (and started withholding love).
Discernment, seeing “this” versus “that,” isn’t itself judgmental. Jesus suggested that we be wise as serpents (and gentle as doves). A serpent resembles a brain and spinal cord. We’re supposed to think — just not judgmentally. Discernment is a vital part of the growth of consciousness.
Judgmentalness, however, lacks compassion and understanding. It points the finger. It arbitrarily classifies some things as being good to the exclusion of others, fragmenting the whole and confining parts of reality. It makes some things wrong simply for being what they are. Everyone has different ideas about what is good and evil. Some churches believe that dancing on Sundays is evil, for instance. Disliking something is a personal truth; judging it as evil tries to turn it into a universal truth, when it may not be. Dancing on Sundays is in the eye of the beholder; committing karma is not.
Judgmentalness pervades humanity, and has for a very long time. It’s difficult to step out of that mindset where we are constantly judging ourselves and others. If we are judging ourselves, we are surely judging others as well, even if we aren’t conscious of it. And if we are judging others, we are surely judging ourselves, even if we aren’t conscious of it.
Why are we so judgmental? It relates to our animal-level hardwiring, automatic mechanisms designed to keep us safe. A stranger or someone who seems different might pose a threat, so our unthinking reaction is suspicion and criticism — we look for danger. These simplistic mechanisms are designed to be foolproof, to operate when “nobody’s home.” They are embedded into our brain and spinal cord — the serpent. The serpent has been blamed for the fall of man because it influenced Eve (emotions) who, in turn, influenced Adam (intellect). However, the personality need not be controlled by hardwiring. When somebody is home, we can make more sophisticated evaluations and choices. Then we can dismantle our automatic, predictable reactions. As we become more conscious, we become less judgmental. The tendencies of the human animal are gradually supplanted by those of the incarnate soul. With discernment, we’re awake and see what is, apart from biological and societal biases.
Karma is a natural law that stands outside subjective judgments. Negative karma is violating others, such as killing or robbing. If you commit karma, you experience the consequences. Something isn’t karmic because of a person’s subjective judgment that it’s evil; it’s karmic because there is a factual violation that shows up in the energy. However, even negative karma is included in the perfection of what is — it’s part of how we grow. When we insist that something shouldn’t be the way it is when it is the way it is, we set up a contraction in ourselves. It’s more useful to fully feel our pain without resistance so that our energy can move.
There are some karmic acts so shockingly heinous that it’s hard to believe that someone would commit them. We may be temporarily stunned into inaction because they are far outside our usual reality, and then the actions we take may be inappropriate or, at least, unhelpful. However, the quicker we grok that they did, in fact, happen, that they’re part of reality, the quicker we can discern them and take appropriate actions.
In a sense, this is a loss of innocence, but the existence of extreme karma doesn’t negate the existence of love, truth, and beauty. We need not become soured on life because we encountered something heinous. Ultimately, even that serves our evolution because it brings into sharper focus what love, truth, and beauty are.
Accepting what is, even when it is horrible, frees us to move on. Revising our view of reality can be stressful, but being frozen in resistance makes us victims, stuck in the past. In fact, anytime someone disappoints us because we had expected different behavior, the quicker we revise our expectations to match the facts, the happier we can be. When we’re disillusioned, it’s helpful to frame that as gaining useful new information that will help us work more effectively with what is. We had expected one thing — naively, it turns out — but now we have a better idea of what we’re really dealing with.
We live in a highly imperfect world, and each of us has many flaws. The paradox is that all these imperfections are perfect just the way they are as starting points for what is to come. We can only start from where we are. And if were already perfect, we’d have nothing to do.
True acceptance is not being complacent or passive, but simply being peaceful and embracing the opportunities for creativity that our challenges give us. Maybe they are not the opportunities we would prefer — they often aren’t — but we just waste energy lamenting that. When we react negatively to annoyances, it’s a good idea to ask ourselves, “Is this worth giving up my happiness?”
Embracing “what is” is actually the fastest way to create the future we’d prefer to live in. This isn’t really positive thinking — it is practical thinking. Sometimes negative thinking is also useful, if it gives us an accurate picture of what is. Sometimes positive thinking is a hindrance, if it leads to denial of what is. Both positive and negative thinking are useful if they lead to acceptance and constructive action. The measure of our thinking isn’t whether it is positive, but whether it’s useful, although positive thinking is usually more useful and accurate than negative — there’s usually something we can do. Sometimes strategic withdrawal is called for to give us a chance to regroup, but giving in to defeat is almost never in our best interests.
Humanity is a long way from enlightenment. We’re better off being realistic about the generally low consciousness of people. Rather than wasting energy with excessive, chronic shock and outrage (such as about politics), it’s more useful to concentrate on being a source of constructive change. The news is full of the same-old-same-old — there’s not much new about it. This week’s car chase isn’t much different from last week’s. This month’s fill-in-the-blanks “scandal” isn’t materially different from last month’s. Why are we shocked? It is as though we expected humanity to be elevated, and keep being surprised and angry that it isn’t. We’ve already had plenty of evidence that it’s not. Many people are addicted to adrenalin — they like being angry; it makes them feel alive, in contrast to their normally dulled senses. But being agitated isn’t being happy.
If we view life as the school for souls that it is (among other things), we can take full advantage of the education it affords. If we think that life exists only to give us what we want and make us comfortable, we will be continually disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with getting what we want and being comfortable, but we can’t count on that happening. We can only count on our ability to embrace whatever comes and make the best of it.
Seeking to compassionately understand human shortcomings in general helps us understand ourselves. We’re all in this together. “Good versus evil,” a meme that pervades popular culture, presumes that evil is only outside us. Evil is simply the part of all of us that is not yet evolved, that is still in darkness. (See my essay, “Compassion for Evil,” at http://summerjoy.com/evil.html.) Embracing our own unevolved shadows allows us to be a true force for good.
When someone does something egregious, he is at a particular level of consciousness and may not know any better at that point. If we really know better, not just intellectually but in our being, we generally do better.
Intellectually, we might say, “I shouldn’t eat that piece of cake because I’m on a diet,” but then eat it anyway. We haven’t yet gotten to the point where our whole being really understands and is in equilibrium, where we can easily make the choices that are best for our health. So, in a sense, we don’t know better, at least not entirely. When we’ve come to a deep balance and clarity around food, it’s relatively easy to make wise choices without a lot of willpower. Good is not battling evil in us; the emotional charge is gone. It’s not cut-and-dried, though, because our bodies are hardwired to seek sweets, dating from a time when they were hard to find, so some self-control may still be needed. There can also be metabolic factors, such as our body seeking a quick boost of energy. We need not judge ourselves when we “fail.” The most useful approach is to learn from it, plan better future strategies, and move on.
That’s a trivial example, but those who do heinous things usually don’t truly know better, either. This doesn’t excuse their actions — we’re all responsible for our choices and must accept the consequences. However, it’s more useful to understand how they may have been damaged and might be helped, rather than taking a merely adversarial approach to them. On the level of the two-dimensional war of good versus evil, there is no solution, because most people think they’re the good guys, or at least rationalize their behavior. Healing must come from a higher place of compassion that addresses causes.
Once someone is classified as being evil, withholding love seems justified. After all, evil people don’t deserve love, do they? However, withholding love harms the withholder as much as the object of that withholding. Contracting our love energy cripples us. It’s easy to see how contracted prejudiced people are. Being habitually judgmental makes us chronically tense.
It’s said that the sun shines on the just and the unjust alike. Deservingness isn’t an issue to unconditional love. We love not because of who others are but because of who we are. As far as the universe is concerned, everyone deserves love, even if they have little capacity to receive it. When society treats lawbreakers or military enemies with brutality, assuming that they deserve it, it debases itself and keeps a vicious cycle of hate going.
We are constantly making choices, many times unconsciously. Taking ownership of our choices is essential to our happiness. When we believe we are primarily victims of things happening to us, we do not take full advantage of our ability to make choices and change our circumstances.
We often have a lot more choices than we realize. Fully considering our options is an important happiness tool. We are powerful when we make the choices that are ours to make, to the best of our ability, and let other people make the choices that are theirs to make. Other people’s choices are usually out of our control and aren’t our business, so it makes sense not to waste energy fussing about them, even when they are ill-advised or even karmic. It’s fine to express our concerns when there’s a chance they will be heard, and to prevent harm when possible, but others have the right to choose, even to choose to create karma. Being invested in the choices of others is certain to diminish our happiness. It tangles up our energy in theirs and dilutes it.
Other people’s choices certainly affect us, but we usually can’t do much about them. Sometimes we are in a position to control other people’s behaviors, and this can be appropriate at times — for example, when raising children. But even with children, no one can control their internal choices. We can only control our own.
However, emanating unconditional love through our emotions, truth through our intellect, and beauty through our body, to our highest ability, sets a tone that reminds others of the possibility of making more loving, truthful, and beautiful choices themselves. Love, truth, and beauty are the fundamental vibrations of the cosmos. Everything else comes from them. Negative energies are merely distorted, blocked, or immature expressions of them. Pure love, truth, and beauty, therefore, are more powerful than any other vibrations. The highest contribution we can make in any situation is to love, truthfully and beautifully.
FRAMING OUR EXPERIENCES
The way we frame our experiences is more important to our happiness than the experiences themselves. Theoretically, one could be happy (or at least peaceful) in any situation, although obviously some are more pleasant than others.
In a situation where one person is happy and another is unhappy, what is the difference? In Part I, we defined happiness as the free and refined expression of self. The first person’s energy moves freely, to the extent possible, whereas the second person’s doesn’t. We saw that judgmentalness is one way we contract and block our energy flow; perhaps he judges his situation rather than embracing it as it is. There may be good reasons he doesn’t like it — maybe it’s not a good fit for him, or maybe it’s just plain unpleasant. However, if it’s not possible for him to leave or change it for the time being, he will be happier if he avoids contracting and gives whatever he can into it, framing it in the most positive possible way consistent with truth. The commitment to make the best of every situation and learn as much as possible from every lesson goes a long way toward creating happiness.
In these kinds of discussions, people often pose hypotheticals such as “What would you do in such-and-such a situation?” Translation: “You couldn’t possibly be happy under those circumstances.” One would not be happy about a negative circumstance, but those with strong happiness skills don’t predominantly derive their happiness from external events. Paul Tillich defined joy as “the happiness of a soul which is lifted above every circumstance.”
As to “What would you do?” — happiness comes from our inner state and how we do what we do, not necessarily what we do per se. Two people can take what appear to be the same actions, but with different intents, the energies and results are different. Furthermore, it isn’t always possible to know ahead of time exactly what the most constructive thing to do would be in a future situation, but the better our problem-solving skills, the happier we are likely to be — they give us more confidence in our ability to handle whatever comes, and that brings greater equanimity. It’s still possible to be happy even when we’re in over our heads, especially if we acknowledge that and set about gaining skills and enlisting help. In any case, if we exercise whatever creative problem-solving capabilities we have and fully use our power of choice, we’ll take the most effective actions available to us.
If we observe others doing harm and have the power to stop them, of course we would do that. If we can’t, we would at least get out of the way if we’re smart. If we take whatever action we choose with compassion, our life force continues to flow. If we have contempt, we stop its flow. If we view them as “other” – fundamentally different from us — we contract. If we see them as part of us, we expand. It is possible to effectively stop those doing harm and, at that same moment, have compassion for both the perpetrators and their victims.
Embracing “what is” is not the same as liking everything that happens. We naturally have preferences. We might say, for example, “I would really prefer not to be murdered. I took a lot of trouble setting up this lifetime and I don’t want to have to do it over again!” That’s perfectly reasonable. It is also perfectly reasonable to take actions to stop someone from murdering us or someone else. That is part of our right to choose, just as we have the right to form karma (although we avoid that if our intention is to get off the karmic wheel and be happy). Making laws to protect against violations is part of our collective right to choose. We stop the flow of our being only when we make a judgment that things aren’t the way they should be when they are the way they are. It is an exercise in futility and a waste of time to resist how things are, because the present moment already exists and can’t be changed — it’s moving into the past. It’s a better investment of our energies to focus instead on changing the next moment, not through resistance but by creating a more positive future through what we bring to this one.
One of the great happiness skills is recognizing the strengths behind behaviors, even if they are currently expressed in an immature way.
Let’s say that someone is detail oriented — that’s a gift. An immature or negative expression of that can be neurotic — obsessive/compulsive, for instance. It brings tension because it’s too contracted. If he struggles with it and judges himself for being that way, he will become even more contracted, because judgmentalness contracts. Instead, if he accepts himself as he is, appreciating his detail-orientation as the gift that it is, he can relax with it and let it expand into equilibrium. He can find the place of “not too much and not too little,” the balance point where the details he focuses on are those that will add something beneficial, letting go of the things that will not. This requires developing objective discernment: the ability to disconnect, step back, and observe rather than being blindly driven by the need for everything to be “perfect.”
Some people are big-picture oriented. That’s a gift, too — they can see the forest for the trees. Detail-oriented people generally focus on quality, and big-picture-oriented people, on quantity. We need both. Detail-oriented people polish works of art to a fine finish, making them more enjoyable. You probably want a detail-oriented person writing (or at least editing) what you read, so that it’s not full of typos and unclarities that make reading more difficult. On the other hand, you probably want a big-picture-oriented person as a general contractor, someone who can keep a project moving smoothly. Ideally, big-picture-oriented people are balanced enough to occasionally slow down and inspect details when necessary, even though their preference might be to quickly plow through tasks. It’s all about balance — balance is a key happiness word — but the balance is in a different place for different people.
Some people are gifted with sensitivity. In order not to be frequently in pain, they may also need to develop strength. Those whose gift is strength may need to learn greater sensitivity so as not to use their strength in a ham-fisted manner.
Everyone has many gifts. A being doesn’t become evolved enough to incarnate as a human without extraordinary amounts of development over eons. Unfortunately, we usually take them for granted and don’t acknowledge them. Look for the gifts in those around you and express appreciation for them, especially to those who believe they don’t have any. All our behaviors ultimately come from our gifts, whether in a mature, refined manner, or a crude, unpolished manner. By recognizing what our gifts are, we can evolve them.
All emotions exist for a reason and have a place. Most spiritual and religious teachings have advocated denying or repressing unpleasant emotions because they didn’t know what else to do with them (although this is beginning to change). Denied emotions are still there, so denial isn’t helpful toward creating real happiness. Embracing our emotions as part of “what is” is the place to begin. Feel them fully. Observe them. What information do they give us? Are there any actions we need to take? Is there a part of us needing healing? When we’ve done all we can for now, we can let them go and move on. If they aren’t done, they will come up again later to be embraced and understood from a higher vantage point.
When we experience violation, whether real or imagined, we naturally feel some combination of anger and fear. Anger moves toward it to try to stop it; fear moves away from it when stopping it doesn’t seem possible. They are two sides of one coin, the masculine and feminine aspects of self-protection. Like yin/yang, fear is inside anger, and anger is inside fear. They can be useful in the presence of a threat, but problematic when stored long-term. Examining all our stored anger and fear, integrating their lessons, and releasing them will probably take a lifetime or more, but it is well worth doing, lightening our load and increasing our capacity for happiness.
Ultimately, every life skill can contribute to our happiness. Communication skills, for example, can help us navigate the minefields of the world with more grace. If we can make our needs and feelings known to others in a positive way that doesn’t put others on the defensive, we are more likely to resolve conflicts and create a better life.
Those who are growing consciously are constantly improving their life skills. Having enough skill and inner resources to handle what life brings us can help us relax and enjoy the ride. When life shows us that our skills and resources are lacking, that’s the perfect time to work on developing them.
UNDERSTANDING OUR DIFFERENCES
We are each a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses on the path of evolution. Without understanding that, we tend to assume that others are just like us, only wrong. Why don’t they like the same things we do? Why do they behave in ways we never would? It turns out that there are a lot of good reasons! Gaining greater insight into others can increase our acceptance of them and hence, our happiness.
BALANCING REST, PLAY, STUDY, AND WORK
We all have activities that are particularly restful for us — they rejuvenate us. Some activities are true play for us — they ground us and make us glad to be alive. Our true study is areas of learning that particularly nourish us intellectually. And our true work fits especially well with who we are and our life task. Having an adequate amount of each, in balance, is vital to our happiness. The balance is different for different people. Some need more rest, while others require more play (sages need more play than the other roles). Covering all these bases each week adds to our happiness. It is particularly common in our culture to neglect rest, play, or study when we get overly busy with our work, and that leads to reduced effectiveness.
Each of us chose a life task before incarnating, and created a life plan to help us achieve it, as well as everything else on our “to do” list. We made agreements with other souls to help us accomplish them. When we intuitively sense and follow the direction of our soul, staying on our path, we’re more likely to fulfill those agreements and complete our tasks. Life then goes more smoothly.
This doesn’t mean we should blindly act on superficial feelings. That is a recipe for being tossed hither and yon. Staying on our path requires deep listening and wisdom, being a full, conscious collaborator with our soul. It does mean not letting our mind talk us out of what we know so that we go against the grain of self. If we examine our assumptions about what we should or have to do, we might find that they don’t necessarily hold water.
Our soul evolution is a slow, gradual, incremental process. At least it seems slow to us. From the big picture point of view, it’s neither slow nor fast — it’s just what it needs to be. Even before our first lifetime on Earth, we had already evolved an enormous amount as an eternal being. We are very large and complex, and there are a lot of layers involved in our evolution. It is not just our intellect that must learn, but all parts of us. If you are driving a large truck, turning it around will take longer than if you’re driving a small car because there is more to turn.
Evolution is slower than it needs to be when we are blocked and blundering through life asleep. Being more conscious speeds up growth to a certain point, but at best, it still might not be as fast as we would like. Change can sometimes come quickly, but it can also take decades to make a dent in our major life issues. They would not be major life issues if they were easy; when their roots go deep, we have to address them one level at a time.
If you have been on the path of conscious growth for many years and could put who you were at age twenty next to who you are now, you would probably be astounded at how much you’ve grown. If you at age twenty had somehow been able to jump to where you are now, you would have been on cloud nine because of the huge rush. However, while it’s happening, our growth is usually so gradual that we don’t notice it. We tend, instead, to focus on all of the things that are still not yet what we want them to be.
If we can validate how far we’ve come, it helps us to be more patient with ourselves and the process. Notice when you’ve handled something better than you might have a year ago. No one gets to be a concert pianist or a conscious human overnight. If we consistently practice everyday, we’ll get there. We can find happiness in incremental improvements.
Recognizing that something in ourselves is not the most we can be opens us to being more. When we compare it to our best models, we then have something we can strive to match. Doing this continually is the spiritual path.
The most important thing that any of us can do if we wish to help the planet is to be an example of what love, truth, and beauty look like, to the best of our ability. When people don’t see positive role models around them, they don’t know how to live a positive life. We all learn through role models. We need role models for happiness as well as for all the other qualities of essence. Most people don’t know what they look like. What do we see on television? Where are role models for kindness, for example? Many so-called reality shows model meanness, selfishness, and manipulation — and glorify them. We need to see beautiful human beings. When we model qualities of essence, we have more impact than we know. Others don’t usually tell us that they silently observe and take notes — that we made a difference — but those who are hungry for something higher do notice.
About the Author
SHEPHERD HOODWIN has been channeling since 1986. He also does intuitive readings, mediumship, past-life regression, healing, counseling, and channeling coaching (teaching others to channel). He has conducted workshops on the Michael teachings throughout the United States.
Shepherd is a graduate of the University of Oregon in Music. He lives in Laguna Niguel, California.
Twitter: @EnlightenNitwit, @shepherdh
Laguna Niguel CA 92677-4818
Other Books by Shepherd Hoodwin
[Please see http://summerjoy.com for purchasing information.]
Being in the World
This insightful book explores practical spirituality.
Enlightenment for Nitwits
The Complete Guide
This hilarious metaphysical/self-help humor collection will appeal to Oprah and Dave Barry fans as well as those with more esoteric interests. In a style reminiscent of comedian Steven Wright, it’s full of wry one-liners along with longer, hilariously mind-bending pieces on a wide range of subjects, tied together by the idea of clueless humans trying to find enlightenment.
“I love Enlightenment for Nitwits! It is the funniest book I have read in several decades. If laughter leads to enlightenment, it will certainly do it. Nothing — thank God — is sacred in this delightful spoof on life in general.”
— C. Norman Shealy, M.D., author of Life Beyond 100
Growing Through Joy
This thought-provoking book explores the nature of personal growth.
Happiness and the Michael Teachings
Learning to Embrace What Is
Happiness is the ultimate goal of every spiritual teaching. Here we explore several principles of what the Michael teachings refer to as growing through joy.
Healing the Gut
A Crib Sheet for Eliminating SIBO
This short ebook offers tips for those with digestive problems and related diseases, focusing on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
Journey of Your Soul
A Channel Explores the Michael Teachings
This is the most in-depth discussion of the Michael teachings to date. It may also be the first analytical study of channeling written by a channel. It has forewords by John Friedlander, author of Psychic Psychology, and Jon Klimo, author of Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources. Klimo writes, “Journey of Your Soul may well be the best (Michael) book of them all due to its clarity, thoroughness, and detail, and thanks to the fact that the author, an exceptionally clear-headed Michael channel himself, brings real integrity and authenticity to our understanding of Michael in particular and to the channeling process in general.”
Loving from Your Soul
Creating Powerful Relationships
This inspiring, transformative book explores the nature of love itself as well as practical matters of relationships. One reader wrote, “There are phrases that are so inspiring that I wrote them down to refer to when I need them. I am looking forward to reading this book again and again.”
Meditations for Self-Discovery
Guided Journeys for Communicating with Your Inner Self
This is a beautiful collection of forty-five vivid, often pastoral, guided imagery meditations channeled from Shepherd’s essence. There are many meditation recordings available, but this is one of the first collections of meditations in book form that can be read to oneself or others. Teachers and group leaders would find it particularly useful.
Opening to Healing
This uplifting book explores the spiritual aspect of healing.
Happiness is too important to leave to chance or circumstance. Some people seem to come by happiness easily. Either they have a naturally sunny disposition, and/or their life has had relatively few bumps in the road. However, happiness is partly a skill, and we can all improve our happiness chops with practice, as well as by cultivating perspectives that foster it. This book is an exploration of some key understandings that foster happiness, particularly about how to not only accept but actually embrace life as it is, at the same time as we work to transform it through higher consciousness. This book is an abridged version of "Happiness and the Michael Teachings."