Have you discovered how inner happiness comes from acceptance and gratitude? Have you truly discovered this universal law for yourself?
A few weeks ago I discovered this in a new way while listening to this session of the Waking Up course by Sam Harris:
Waking Up - Gratitude
Learn both the practice and theory of meditation. Whether you're a beginning or advanced meditator, Waking Up opens the door to a deeper understanding of yourself-and to a new way of being in the world.
In it, Sam Harris proposes the following stoic exercise:
For a few brief moments, visualize your life without something important—a pet, a loved one, a body part or sense (hearing, sight), your home. Anything you cherish.
Sit “without it” for a few moments. What does this feel like? Experiment with cues that trigger the feeling more intensely. (For example, plugging your ears to simulate losing your hearing.) Accept this situation with all your heart.
Then, after a few moments, visualize the universe turning back the wheel of time to that moment before losing that thing, and instead taking a different course. Your pet or loved one survived. Your body part or sense was able to be operated on, and saved. Whatever it is.
How do you feel?
The first time I tried this (visualizing losing my legs), upon coming back to reality I instantly couldn’t stop smiling broadly and laughing! I’ve done less-intense exercises since then, but today I was inspired to try with my music.
I turned my home theatre system’s treble off, so that only the bass tones would play. I sat in the “reality” that I had lost most of my hearing, and felt incredibly sad. (I love music more than almost anything else in the world. Though, interestingly, during the experience I realized it wouldn’t be as bad as I’d imagined it would be. I could still create my own music from within, in the likes of Beethoven. This was a big realization for me.)
Still, after a couple minutes of hearing my music play only bass tones, I switched the stereo back to normal and the full auditory spectrum came rushing back into my awareness. Once again, I instantly began smiling broadly, laughing, even crying tears of joy for the blessing that is my hearing.
I’ve lost some of my top-end hearing from concerts I wasn’t careful about when I was in high school, and I often joke/complain about it. But, “regaining” the incredible range of hearing I still possess was a humbling, deeply satisfying moment.
It’s become exceedingly obvious that true happiness comes not from having specific things or experiences, but from accepting and enjoying the ones we’re graced with. As cliche as this wisdom may feel, I’ve now heard it from enough people whose opinions on life I trust to know that it’s true.
Therefore, I realize the secret to my own true, lasting happiness is to practice radical acceptance, and engineer for myself these loss-visualization moments that lead to intense gratitude the likes of which I’ve never felt before. 🤩
This practice is already unlocking all sorts of positivity in my life, ironically not because it creates anything new, but because it teaches me to truly appreciate all that I have.
If you struggle with inner peace & joy, give that episode of Waking Up a listen, and give this exercise a try.
I hope it helps. 😇
Originally published @November 18, 2021