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The Happy Brain

Happiness as a shift in consciousness

Source: Photo: iStock

Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.
-Eckhart Tolle

Grab the Good because Bad will surely find you.

It’s a meditation of sorts, and it is a crucial perspective on a life well lived.

Please consider it.

While often elusive, the core to the happiness experience is gratitude and perspective. Bad is part of life, whether it’s a souring relationship, job problems, declining health or child issues, but good is here as well. I ask you to consider nurturing your experience of the good like gardener tends to her garden.

Those who can grab the good and nurture its sustenance create a shift in consciousness that takes what you have and makes it work for you. And a small shift in consciousness can go a long way.

Grab the Good because Bad will surely find you.

Consider the fact that our minds determine how happy we are. You can have a great boyfriend or marriage. You can have a great job or children. And you can have a comfortable life…yet, if you take it for granted and see what is not working, all is diminished.

The mind has a way of experiencing the bad ten times harder than the good. It is probably adaptive from an evolutionary point of view. In more primitive times, we needed to sense the bad, and anticipate it, like a predator or natural disaster. Only with anticipated pain in mind, could we be sufficiently motivated to take preventative steps.

Yet, good is in our world. Consider the fact that your body works, that you are breathing, or even that your digestive tract does its job when going to the bathroom. None of these things need to be.

Yet, we enjoy the benefits of what works.

Consider grabbing the good and have gratitude for the simple things. Find joy that you are here for another truly miraculous day.

Grab the Good because Bad will surely find you.

You cannot grab the good if you do not see it.

So open your eyes and heart to what is in front of you. Ironically, depression and living a normal life share something in common: a tendency to habituate to whatever is working and a focus on what’s not. You don’t have to be depressed to take things for granted. We all do it. You have a nice moment with your partner, an opportunity comes your way, the sun is out, or you have a good relationship with your doctor or therapist. It may all go by unnoticed.

  • Yet, none of the good in life has to be. None of it!

Grab the good, and let gratitude grow and fill you. And, when something bad inevitably happens, have perspective. Bad will find you. There is no hiding, it's part of our humanity. Yet, if we have developed a sense of good, there is balance.

People with depression habituate to experience and take the good for granted.

They often cannot see anything but their disappointments and struggles. And, while this pain is not to be diminished, without the pleasure of the good, these hurts will overwhelm. If you are depressed, get treatment because the depression itself imposes a cognitive style that re-enforces bad things and diminishes (or ignores) the good.

Grab the Good because Bad will surely find you.

Whether depressed or not, many of us have cognitive maps that have us live narrow lives. We see the same thing, the same marriage, job, food, week…year. While we may be happy at times and even fulfilled, we lack the sixth sense that there is good to be had moment to moment.

You have to open to the world optimistically (while protecting yourself from harm’s way) and see opportunity. It may be in a small moment with someone at work. Or, you may challenge yourself to get outside your box, like taking a class or a martial art.

When we leave our comfort zones we open up to the possibility of the good. We are creating our own luck.

I often encourage a patient to open a new door and peek in. For some, it might be guitar lessons, a longed-for trip, contacting an old friend or love, or believing in themselves enough to look at other career or relationship options.

Depressed people cannot take these steps; the disease erodes the power of hope. With good treatment, often the first sign of improvement is the opening of a small but meaningful door.

Sadly, people who are not depressed may be just as stuck.

Often a leap of faith is required to take a chance.

Yet, opening a door can lead to good. Much of it depends on believing in yourself. If you open the door and it is not right, close the door. Trust that you will know what is good and what is not.

And, if you open the door and grab the good within, other doors may open as well.

Grab the Good because Bad will surely find you.

Our minds are habituated to holding onto the bad. We need to protect ourselves from predators and need not repeat old wounds. If you had a narcissistic father or borderline mother, for example, your wounds may be protective. You will not want to have these experiences again. That is natural.

Yet, bitterness is an awful human experience which leads nowhere good. Some of us have been terribly injured and even traumatized by the past. The brain is reactive and quick to go into fight/flight. It’s hard to find the good under these circumstances because the past intrudes so powerfully into our present.

The task of grabbing the Good is still important.

Good therapy can transform and be truly meaningful. The work of forgiveness is difficult work. Sometimes it cannot be done and acceptance of what happened is the best one can hope for.

But, to allow the past to poison the present is to give the perpetrator an enduring victory. We have a choice everyday to be a victim to our past, or to be a survivor of it.

Choose the role of survivor and do the work required to make it happen.

It is hard work. It is unfair. But it is holy.

Grab the Good because Bad will surely find you.

There’s no easy recipe for happiness.

Yet, a change of consciousness can be immensely helpful.

  1. Enjoy what works.
  2. See the good in small moments.
  3. Do not take anything for granted.
  4. And be on the lookout for opportunity in all its forms.

How does one actually make a shift like this? For some, a religious life may be helpful in taking in the good. For others, effective therapy can shift consciousness. I’ve heard from many that yoga grounds this way as well. Find one of these paths, or one that better suits you.

Consider grabbing the good.

Parting Thoughts:

The world has a certain sustaining magic to it.

It is also filled with pain and injustice.

Believe me, you are going to have to deal with the bad. It will find you. Yet, grab the Good.

It enlivens the journey and makes it complete.

And that is a lot in this life.


For more on The Intelligent Divorce & Further Unorthodox Advice on Marriage, Relationships and Parenting:

Books on Kindle: The Intelligent Divorce (I & II)

Books on Amazon: The Intelligent Divorce (I & II)


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