National Winner – Best Indie Book Award
A Glossary of Life
Fortune and fame… the perfect friends, partner, family, life circumstances… Nearly everyone imagines their own unique idea of what they believe would make them happy. What is not commonly known, however, is that circumstances themselves contain no inherent happiness. If they did, everyone who “has it all” would be automatically happy. But it is observably clear that many people who appear to have it all aren’t necessarily happy. On most Top 10 lists of potentially annoying clichés, “Happiness is a state of mind” likely takes the top spot for many people. But if we can clearly see and experience that things or even people can’t supply us with an uninterrupted source of happiness, what can?
Here’s a useful rule of thumb: Anything that can take away happiness cannot be a true source of happiness. The reason you can’t cobble together things, people, and circumstances to create happiness is because - in our everchanging world - happiness isn’t creatable as something static. The force of change that is life will eventually crumble your happy model. Happiness is, however, something that can be discovered. And it’s your perspective that enables you to make that discovery. Ask yourself, “What do I need to have happen or prevent from happening in order for me to be happy?” Having to have these constantly changing conditions met as prerequisites for your happiness flings happiness into the future and indefinitely keeps you on the brink of it… always one condition away. This is like running on a treadmill in front of a beautiful mirage. No matter how fast you run, you’ll never get there. There is, however, a way off the treadmill.
As mentioned earlier, despite what’s going on in your life, you can always find something for which to be grateful. Start there. Eventually, that gratitude will spread around to other areas of your outlook on life, and that’s what shifts you into a happier life perspective. Oftentimes, circumstances are beyond your control. It is how you choose to see and thereby experience those circumstances that makes all the difference.
This is not an assault on having goals or wanting to improve your life circumstances. Achieving your goals and changing your circumstances, however, will be much more efficient and infinitely more enjoyable if you are happy while you’re doing it. Choosing to be grateful and happy for what little you may have is not a resignation. It sets a tone of appreciation that’s necessary to welcome more into your life. And when more does come your way, you won’t be happy because of it; you’ll notice with wonder that happiness was within you all along. It had just been covered up by what you once thought happiness required.
Lastly, there is a magical shortcut to experiencing happiness. When you are in service to others, you become part of the flow of happiness for others. And what flows through you inevitably flows to you.
Fear is contagious. It is a psychological virus. If you’re watching, you will see when it attempts to penetrate your mental process. You will also notice when you verbally spread it around to other people - which just reinforces your own fear. Whether you have a fear of poisonous spiders, economic crashes, or giant meteors, this intimidating force can dampen your courage and limit your life experience if you let it. When you have a fear of something happening, you go through that circumstance every day it’s feared - even though it hasn’t happened. There’s a gnawing, background anxiety that is caused by unconfronted fears. Choosing not to face them means you must avoid and run from them. The choices you make will then be limited by your fears, and it follows that those unconfronted fears will change the very course of your life.
Fear, however, is also one of humanity’s greatest gifts. It shows us our own path to greater happiness. As long as we harbor fears, we embrace a glass ceiling to that happiness. If you deeply probe what holds up your happiness, you may discover a subtle undercurrent of, “Things are great as long as ‘X’ doesn’t happen.” Choosing to eradicate those subconscious fears is one of the greatest adventures you could ever embark upon. If begun, it’s a process that unfolds over a lifetime (or lifetimes, if you like). To take this endeavor seriously, you must first go looking for your fears. Only then can you face them… head-on. This means periodically asking yourself questions like, “What fears is life trying to uncover within me, and will I engage them? What is the worst thing that could happen to me? Could I bravely face that prospect, or am I imprisoned and paralyzed by the mere thought of it?”
All of this sounds very heavy, but this is where life itself encourages us to go. Eventually, we will all evolve to a stage where we enthusiastically engage this type of high-level, internal growth - the kind of growth that will expand our capacity to live life and elevate us to an unflappable state of readiness. Confronting our deepest fears is a path to absolute fearlessness and a peace of mind that we never thought possible. It’s an endeavor to take a bold step every day toward the highest vision of ourselves that each of us holds deep within. It’s a decision to contemplate ourselves as limitless and ask, “Why not?”
The Placebo Effect is defined as a measurable change in a patient’s condition rooted in their belief that they received medical treatment which was never actually administered. Medical conditions improving from taking fake pills - and patients even developing side effects from warnings on fake pill bottles - is a verifiable and repeatable experiment that has baffled medical scientists for decades. This phenomenon implies that the power of belief taps into something within us that expands our capacities in ways that are not currently understood. It also implies that this mysterious mechanism works both ways; and it can have negative effects on us if our beliefs are negative.
Considering this, it’s worth examining what beliefs we’re carrying around with us from day to day about ourselves and about life. Do these beliefs make us feel stronger and more capable? Or do they make us feel weaker and more vulnerable? To a large extent, our beliefs govern our actions and efforts, and it is from our actions and efforts that our life unfolds. We all see the path ahead through the filter of our chosen beliefs. If we don’t believe certain things are possible, we won’t see the opportunities hidden in our life circumstances and relationships that could make them possible. Choosing one belief over another is literally choosing one future over another.
This destiny-altering force sounds very dramatic, and there’s no way to prove its validity to anyone other than yourself. However, the constructive force of belief is at work in your life whether you directly perceive it or not. Nuclear physics, for example, has been around for billions of years. Our discovering it didn’t make it spontaneously begin to work; we simply evolved enough to finally perceive it. When you engage the creative power of belief and begin to observe this power at work in your own life, you’ll undeniably see that, although we’re all human, not a single one of us is “only human.”
True love is accepting. It doesn’t try to fix or change anyone. It never imposes itself, forcing someone to face something they’re not yet ready to face. Love lacks the atmosphere of obligation, agenda, and even expectation. Its purest essence is found when we can say to another, “I want for you what you want for you.”
Love itself never hurts. Mistakenly perceiving we’ve lost it or naïvely concluding we’ll never find it again is what hurts. Love simplifies everything the mind makes complicated. One cannot think love… one can only feel love. It isn’t something we can capture or even become. When we let go of the nonlove we harbor, the love that we inherently are shines through. Love is the most powerful force in nature… the one enduring thing that shapes our world and makes life worth living. Love is the fabric of all existence. All forms contain it, though some have simply and temporarily forgotten.
Love is an unstoppable “weapon” because nothing and no one can stop you from using it. It is the fastest way to disarmament - both literally and figuratively. In the face of hatred and animosity, love shines as a constant offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is a mystical aspect of life that is unaffected by the passage of time or the separation of distance.
When we look back on our lives, the one question that will matter most is, “Did I love or fail to love?” Feelings of authentic joy, experiences of true happiness, times when life just makes sense… all these encounters happen when we chose to love - especially in the face of nonlove. Life itself is one grand opportunity to grow in love for ourselves and for each other. Love is the fundamental reason we are here.
Rejection is nothing more than direction. It means we are failing to see the inconsistency between what we want and what is currently best for us. Things we can’t obtain are simply not yet ours to have. In the shadow of rejection, some have faith in what they call, “God’s Plan;” others interpret their lives as having a “Universal Blueprint;” and still others feel that their soul attracts what’s best for them despite their mind’s complaints. The model we use to frame our life’s course is less important than the realization that - when it comes to rejection - none of us are victims. Much like a lighthouse, rejection is a navigational resource. A lighthouse isn’t going to move out of the way; it’s there to protect us from our own ignorance. Embracing rejection as direction empowers us to find another way forward… and to keep sailing.
For more than 5,000 years, humanity has perceived something beyond itself and has tried to capture that perception through many different expressions and historical figures. Believers follow the teachings of avatars like Christ, Buddha, or Krishna; and it can be argued that even atheists find their God in the science of natural law. As instructive and inspiring as many ancient teachers are, humanity often gets lost in its search for God. We’ve attempted to plot an exact location for something that is everywhere. We’ve tried to assign an exclusive and finite value to something that is all-inclusive and infinite. As a result, suffering - in many forms - has repeatedly accompanied inflexible religious doctrine.
Setting doctrine aside, a more relatable concept of God is to perceive “it” as a life force with which we interact and are a part of… an entity that consists of the sum total of all of us. Just as one single cell of a human body contains the DNA blueprint of the entire body, we each exist as single “cells” in the infinitely larger body of what could be called, God. In perfect correlation with this concept, the same fundamental elements found in all stars are found within us. But the physical nature of life and the Universe itself is merely a reflection of something much more profound. God is not something you can quantify or put into a formula and come up with a result. You can’t think God, you can only feel God. Thus, God is an experience that remains unprovable to the purely scientific perspective. But then again, so is love. Your loved one, for example, can cook for you, buy you presents, kiss you goodnight, and tell you they love you… but all those things can be done without love. You can only feel that someone loves you and that you love them; you can’t prove it.
We didn’t invent calculus, physics, or nuclear science. Their principles were inherent in the physical nature of the Universe long before our species developed the capability to perceive them. Similarly, God is an inherent phenomenon of existence that we haven’t yet fully perceived… an awareness that already knows what we have yet to discover… the spark of life that animates everything. Perceive Him as the power of the ocean. Observe Her as a hillside of wildflowers. Recognize It as the force that binds our Universe together. God is the essence and the source of all the passion, love, friendship, beauty, and inspiration you have ever felt or perceived. When you realize this, you will discover that God is and has always been much closer to you than you ever imagined.
When a male lion takes over the pride of another male lion, the first thing it typically does is kill and eat the cubs of the defeated male. The humanity in each of us is horrified by this natural occurrence and may even attempt to label the lion’s behavior as evil. With great effort, we must remind ourselves that the lion isn’t evil; it’s just operating from the inherently lower consciousness of being a lion. Lions follow Darwinian survival instincts that dictate their behavior. As such, from the viewpoint of a lion, killing and eating the children of a family you’ve just forcibly taken over is not considered evil or even wrong. Humans (most, anyway) operate from a higher state of consciousness that isn’t fully controlled by animalistic instincts. Our collective souls have evolved to the point where most of us don’t behave like animals. Those among us that still do, we label as evil. But as this example illustrates, evil isn’t inherent in anything. It is simply a term for a lower state of consciousness in a very early stage of development… like that of a lion.
No thing can create cold just as no thing can create darkness. Cold and darkness are a lack of something - heat and light. Similarly, evil is not an entity or force of its own; it is also a lack of something - love and truth. In the innermost core of every person (and every living thing) - no matter how horrific or even genocidal their behavior - is the potential for love. No soul is inherently evil. We’re all on an endless path of evolution, though some are just further along on that path than others. The people we label as evil are confused about who they really are and what life is really about. They don’t yet understand the true consequences of their actions… that is, what their actions feel like on the receiving end. But on the path of human evolution, free will wouldn’t be possible without the concept of evil. There would be nothing from which to choose. The dark consequences of evil choices serve as illustrations that encourage us to make loving choices. And the bright consequences of loving choices serve as beacons that illuminate humanity’s path to prosperity and to higher evolution.
Without the bitter cold, there could be no experience of comforting warmth. Without the ominous darkness, there could be no experience of brilliant light. The beauty and majesty of the sparkling night sky are made possible because of a backdrop of darkness. Observe the darkness as evil and confusion; observe the stars as love and truth. Only then will you see that both are part of the same spectacular tapestry.