Video 2

Module #11. Happiness and Radical Living
Video Two: The Happiness Continuum

The way I conceive of happiness is that it is a state of mind that is constantly in flux, moving back and forth along a line from one extreme to another — a continuum if you will — with something like ecstatic bliss at one end, and total despair at the other. At the middle point one is just neutral, or just simply content with life
as it is, perhaps. At worst, just numb.

Ecstatic Bliss ———————————— Neutrality———————————————Total Despair

What you happen to be feeling at any one point in time along that line can depend on things external to you, like where you are, what is happening in that moment, and so on. You can be feeling wonderful one minute and terrible the next.

The key to happiness, then, is being aware of where you are at any moment along that line, and being OK with where you are and what you are feeling in that moment, whether you’re in the middle of an upset with someone or experiencing a moment of pure delight.
It’s very important not to label them as either positive or negative, though, for there’s no such thing as a negative feeling. They are just feelings. The key is to be aware of them, accept them, and love yourself for having them.

Now, this where I tend to part company with those who teach in order to be happy that you must never allow yourself to have negative feelings — only positive ones. This idea comes from the positive thinking gurus who often equate happiness with positive thinking.

I think positive thinking is just another name for denial, and that it is not healthy. It produces pseudo happiness at best and simply comes back to bite you later when the feelings you suppressed begin to erupt and cause problems. So, let yourself feel it all and let it be what it is.

OK? Now, it’s one thing to know where you are along this continuum at any one point in time, and that’s good, of course.
But the key to experiencing happiness for extended periods of time, which is the goal of life surely, is having an awareness of where along that line (that is between points ‘a’ and ‘b’ — as indicated on the diagram in the Resources Section), that you tend to spend the majority of the time in your everyday life?

You might think of this as your baseline happiness level.

Example 1. Point (a) —————————- Point (b)
Ecstatic Bliss————————————-——— Neutral —————————————————Total Despair

Example 2. Point (a) ———————————- Point (b)
Ecstatic Bliss————————-——————— Neutral —————————————————Total Despair

Example 3. Point (a) —————————- Point (b)
Ecstatic Bliss———————————-———— Neutral —————————————————Total Despair

A person with a baseline as in example number one would tend not to swing violently towards either extreme and is likely to feel quite balanced, whereas the person in example number two would tend to be very ‘up’ much of the time while the person in example number three would tend to feel a little bit melancholy most of the time.

Not that one is better than the other; I hasten to add. A lot depends on one’s natural disposition, and each type carries both positive and negative characteristics. For example, people who are very ‘up’ much of the time are able to experience intense pleasure and excitement but may tend to be nervous, hypersensitive, and prone to worry. The person who is more naturally melancholic may take life more as it comes, be more philosophical and practical, but be prone to negative thoughts and at worst, apathy.

So, don’t judge where you are along that line. Just notice where you are most of the time and how wide you tend to go. How much of each either side of neutral do you tend to go? How often and how easily do you break out and expand beyond your baseline when the occasion calls for you to do so?

Then ask yourself whether this is your natural way of being or an acquired state that is not a true reflection of who you are. You may have come to be this way through having been ‘socialized’ by your upbringing or life experiences. Or, you have been judged or shamed into thinking that your natural way of being is not OK and
you feel that you have to be different in order to be happy.

Radical Forgiveness and Radical Self-Empowerment will help you gradually find and move to the best place along that line to hang out, to where you’re truly in alignment with who you are and where you can be truly happy with yourself.

It is only when we are hyper-aware of what’s going on inside ourselves and where we are on that line between bliss and despair in any one moment, can we begin to awaken to the truth of who we are, why we are here and what we have to do to live in alignment with the new reality based on love instead of fear.

In the next video, we‘ll look at happiness from a mind-body-spirit point of view and point to some of the factors of each that contribute to happiness. So, we’ll see you then.