I’m just going to come right out and say this: You are okay.
I know that is completely counter-everything that you think and say to yourself all day, every day. It’s also the opposite message you’ve been fed your whole life. The church says you need to be saved. The ad folks say you need more stuff. The army will help you be all you can be. And you probably had a girlfriend who had a tip or two for you.
And then there’s the self-help book, guru, workshop.
There is a nauseating amount of self-help programs out there. From healing family karma to past life regressions to soul retrievals to dealing with money issues. From protecting yourself from energy vampires to how to attract a soul mate to ensuring you never have a bad hair day again. Ever.
And really, who can resist the chance to finally learn the secret handshake.
There are so many of these kinds of things out there for you to trip over that if you weren’t fucked up already, just reading through the list could convince you that you’re broken in ways you never even imagined. But who has the time or the money to be able to fix all these maladies in one lifetime.
And thinking about more than one lifetime is no less troubling.
I recently read about a process that helps you clear karma from your ancestors. Really? This is a thing now? Trust me, I’m issue-rich enough just dealing with my own behaviors and self-sabotaging thought patterns. Don’t tell me I’ve got to bear the weight of the mistakes from generations ago.
What thinks will they think up next?
If you’re like me (and since we share 99.9% of DNA, there’s a high probability of that) just reading this far probably has you feeling a little anxious. And since I’m the one who is partly responsible for that, I’m going to tell you what you can do about it: Relax. While all of what they say may be true. (And really, there’s a good chance it’s not.) There are much easier ways to get right with the Universe. Namely:
That may be all you need. Really. Science shows that if we are grateful, we either become happier or we attract more things to be grateful for. Either way, it’s a boon. I’m ok with being happy because I have more to be happy about, or with being happy because I learned to change my thinking. Either way, I’m happy.
Truthfully, I’d be okay with the ignorance-is-bliss variety of happiness. I’d still be happy. Which is the point.
Being grateful is not as hard as it sounds. It’s really just being aware of how ridiculously fortunate we are to be alive. Hey look, this wrapping on my body (called skin) is still keeping all my blood from leaking out all over the room. And check it out, the sun came up again, allowing us to continue to see, eat, not freeze to death.
Also, the color blue is really beautiful.
As I’ve mentioned, there’s so much out there about being “present” that I hesitate even to utter that phrase. But the simple truth is, when we are focused on the present moment, then we are not able to worry about the past or the future. (It’s liberating just to think about, isn’t it?) This one thing has the power to free up all kinds of space in your psyche.
And if you’re not worried about the past, then whatever your ancestors did or didn’t do doesn’t matter one damn bit.
I think the important thing to remember about being present is that you really can’t be anywhere else. We lie to ourselves all the time about this. And we imagine that it takes years and years of discipline to be present. But really, it takes no energy at all. We’re already there. We just have to remember.
Oh, yeah, I’m present. Look there, I’m still present. Even now. Still present.
Finally, being kind just makes us feel better in general. It costs us nothing. I am far from the first person to suggest this. The Dalai Lama, for instance, has often reduced his whole philosophy of life, the universe, and everything to one simple tenet:
My religion is kindness.
And who doesn’t want to be kind. Think about it. Being shitty doesn’t actually make you feel better. If you’re honest with yourself, you’re never mean to someone (even someone you think deserves it) and then walk away feeling better about yourself.
Being kind is the ultimate win-win.
Well, there you go. And it didn’t cost you hundreds or thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars. And you didn’t have to commit to a weekend workshop, or buy a new yoga mat, or even change your diet. (Though, come to think of it, you do look like you could lose a few.)
I’m just kidding. Really.
Thomas Lloyd Qualls is a writer, a condition that is apparently incurable. He manages his condition, in part, by regular contributions to Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine and to the borderless virtual tribe known as Rebelle Society. (He’s also a novelist, essayist, videographer, painter, bike rider, and sometimes salvager of troubled lives.)
He also finds it helpful to talk with other humans. Feel free to friend him, follow him, or just invite him out for a beer.
Waking Up at Rembrandt’s, his debut novel, has received local and national critical acclaim. The second edition of the novel is available in print (think of vinyl, only for books) and on multiple e-version platforms. There’s also a book of poetry, love jaywalks, available everywhere ebooks are sold. Still on the horizon: a collection of essays, some new paintings, and a second novel, painted oxen, due out just as soon as all the words finish lining up. In the meantime, feel free to visit his website whenever you like. There’s more stuff there. www.tlqonline.com.
*This essay also appeared in the May 2015 Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine
Copyright © 2015 Thomas Lloyd Qualls, all rights reserved.