Happiness is a personal thing; there is no universal guide. But one thing’s for sure…no matter how low you’ve been, or how hopeless life has seemed, you can be happy. You just have to be willing to work your ass off.
To say that I’m sick of politics is like a chemo patient saying he feels under the weather. I’m dying here. I’ve pondered wearing earplugs to muffle the pundits. I’ve considered using Google glasses to program “Trump” and “Democrats” and “Republicans” out of my visual spectrum.
Because there’s one issue that must come before politics…
Our romantic relationships are the basic unit of civilization. Men and women have children and build families, which make up neighborhoods, communities, cities, states, and nations. Basic logic, right?
And it takes civilized people to make a civilization. So how can we expect to have peaceful nations when our most basic relationships are downright crude? We have missions to mars and particle colliders that are rumored to open portals to new dimensions. But, when it comes to love…we’re dragging our knuckles on a flat earth.
Our version of love is a cycle of insecurity
We can’t stand to be alone. But rather than learning to love our lives and find meaning alone, we place impossible standards for fulfillment on our lovers. We get a little security, and a lot of pleasure. But when the chemicals wear off, we’re left with the truth: we don’t know anything about our lovers.
And when we do get to know each other, we hate what we find. Then we split. But each split tears a thread in the fabric of our society, because family is our foundation.
We can thrust ourselves into heady political conversations, and pretend that our red (or blue) rage is going to build a better world. But those political solutions aren’t addressing the root cause of our pain. We just need to fix how we love first.
How I learned to build a lasting love
Foundations are, well, foundational to success. So we pave them for our houses. And we learn the fundamentals of math before going on to algebra and calculus. We know that we need a strong foundation for successful relationships, too. But who actually takes the time to build one?
Loving responsibly is hard. It seems outdated or religiously nonsensical by today’s standards—(getting to know someone inside and out before you take them to bed?!?!) But if you don’t have a strong foundation, you’ve got a house of cards. Just like every one of my previous relationships.
From age 12 I trained myself to objectify women by watching porn. And until my early twenties, I was more concerned about my next sexual fix than my career. I hooked up with girlfriends not because I wanted to love them with all my heart, but because they were my key to security and satisfaction—which I got, for a time. But the net result was an increasingly lonely, unfulfilled, and depressed version of me.
By the end of my last relationship, I seriously considered taking my own life. What was I doing wrong? After picking up reflective habits like journaling and meditation, I figured it out.
I wasn’t happy with me, so I couldn’t be happy with anyone else
I wasn’t fulfilled alone. I was bored alone. And I was unsuccessful alone. But in my mind, relationships were magical things that would wash all the bad stuff away and make me happy—kind of like a drug. In reality, for each desire that I lacked on my own, like joy, or security, I was strangling my relationships with conditions.
I’d “love” a girl until I was no longer joyful with her, or until she bored me. And for each condition that she failed to meet—no one can be perfect 100% of the time—I withdrew my love from her, bit by bit. The withdrawals happened on her side too.
By the end of my relationships, whether they were six-month flings or two-year engagements, the end was predictably uncivil. We abused each other with our language. We cheated on each other, and betrayed each other’s trust. We blamed each other on and on for what the other failed to do. Almost sounds like our relationships with other countries…
But the real failure was in choosing each other as romantic partners. It was in pursuing love without getting to know each other’s values and character traits first—before we built a foundation. We gambled on placing our faith in each other. And, like most people, we lost. Big time.
Rather than castrating myself, or settling for an endless string of heartaches—somebody shoot me—, I worked on the foundation of my next relationship. I worked on me.
I learned to lean into my insecurity
Instead of running for another girl when I got lonely, I leaned into my insecurity and learned more about me. I developed a prayer life and a relationship with God. And I stuck to my new habits of journaling and meditation.
Through mindfulness, I channeled my sexual desire into my goals and self improvement. I felt the urge to ogle gorgeous women, of course. And at 27, their beauty moves me now more than ever. But I trained myself to move in a positive direction, to express healthy emotions at a woman’s beauty—like gratitude, inspiration, and awe—instead of imagining how she could please me.
Then I took it a step further.
I disciplined myself to think of a woman’s future husband. Would he respect me for the way I was thinking about her? And then I’d think of my future wife…If I couldn’t expect myself to view other wives with dignity and respect, how could I expect that of other men in looking at mine?
In my new way of thinking, I shed my selfish ways and became a man—and a neighbor, and a lover. A year into the habit I became independent for the first time in my life. I discovered my writing career and found success in it. And I became a role model for other people.
My dramatic life change happened because I figured out how to harness my sexual desire in an uplifting way. And in learning how to love civilly, I became a functioning part of civilization. *But people still call me out for not voting…
How you can love civilly
The way we think about each other determines how we act: civil, or uncivil. So you’ve got to train yourself to think respectful and positive thoughts—especially when it comes beautiful men and women.
No matter how much we hope, the magical love chemicals can’t erase reality: we either love each other with respect, or we don’t. And if we don’t, our relationships will degrade, and our families will degrade. And as our broken relationships pick up steam down the social gradient, our communities degrade, and our cities degrade. And if the cycle of uncivil romance continues, states and nations will degrade as well. It’s basic logic.
So, you can talk about what these dildos in office are doing to feel important and keep you occupied…or you can do something that actually makes a difference. You can learn to love like a human-fucking-being. Pardon my crude language.
Learn to love for the long term. Build faith in yourself. Quit porn and casual sex. Become so joyful and inspired by your own life that you couldn’t imagine expecting anyone else to be responsible for your happiness. Channel your sexual desire into your highest self. Use those urges to remind yourself of the things you haven’t done yet to become the person you want to be. Direct that energy into a future you would admire, and a person you’d be proud of.
And when you’ve changed the way you live and think, you’ll change the way you love. You’ll love civilly.
By your example, you’ll inspire others to take the harder path and to love civilly themselves. And when enough people do that…I won’t ever have to hear another political pundit for as long as I shall live. And I’ll thank you.
Article originally appeared on Collective-Evolution.com
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you aren’t feeling 100 percent. Maybe you got down on yourself today. Maybe you wallowed when you could’ve worked. Maybe you compared yourself to the billion and one other people who have something you want—a sure way to feel like dirt.
But none of that matters now.
What matters is what you choose to focus on before you go to bed, before your subconscious plays with your most powerful thoughts and experiences for eight hours. What thoughts will those be?
I’m choosing to think of the moments when I made myself feel proud. I’m going to magnify that feeling with my mind, and I’m going to make it so powerful that my subconscious can’t resist it as I sleep. That way I’ll be thinking positively when I awake, and I’ll be training my brain as I sleep.
I’m going to choose the experiences that made me feel grateful. And if I missed out on actually feeling gratitude for something or someone important, I’ll give myself that opportunity before bed.
I’ll recognize where I came up short, but I won’t dwell on that. Instead, I’ll think of the amazing things I can do tomorrow to improve myself, my relationships, my career, and all the things I can control.
But the past isn’t one of those things.
So, to everyone who’s feeling down, cheer up. Focus on things you did right, even if the day was a loss. Focus on the people who make your life worth living. And generate the positive thoughts and feelings that you want your day to be defined by tomorrow.
If by some glitch in the matrix you didn’t accomplish anything you’d feel proud about, change that before you fall asleep. Take notes on a chapter in your latest self-improvement book. Write a thank-you card to someone who’s been there for you. Meditate, and visualize the success you wish to achieve in life and love. Draft a knockout cover letter for the position you’ve dreamed of applying for. Make your bed, even if it’s five minutes before you hop back in it. Do a 10-minute workout, or a yoga session. Inch, scrape, and crawl toward the better life you have in mind.
You’ll adopt the mindset that it’s never too late to give your best effort, and that your best effort is always a good option. You’re worth that.
Besides, the alternative isn’t exactly appealing.
You can wallow a bit more, wishing you were somewhere you weren’t, regretting the things you haven’t done, fearing the life you might not get to live, accomplishing nothing. And as you drift off to sleep, your subconscious will ruminate on those disempowering thoughts. The thoughts will fester. And breed with each other. And occupy more and more of your mind so that by the time you wake up, you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and that a dark cloud has obscured your vision, smothering your joy.
You can do that. But it’s not really what you want.
You want an inspired life where every breath counts, where more of your dreams come true every day, and where you make a difference to more people. That kind of life is the product of a positive mindset. And to attain it, you have to reset your mind every night before you go to bed.
1. Focus on something you accomplished today.
Relive the experience, feeling the encouragement and confidence as if it were happening now. Magnify those feelings.
2. Feel gratitude—especially for the people in your life.
Think about the top five people who’ve made your life what it is, then relive an experience that made you grateful for them. Think about the lucky breaks in your life. Choose any number of minor miracles to feel grateful for, and keep feeding that feeling of gratitude.
Project into the future the positive feelings you’ve generated. See yourself accomplishing things that you’ve put off for weeks or months. Feel the pride coursing through your body, swelling up your heart. And express gratitude in advance for your achievements.
Brainstorm three critical goals that will bring you closer to the life you want to live tomorrow and write them down. The act of writing down your goals makes them more concrete and makes you less likely to avoid them. It also gives your sleeping brain the opportunity to create solutions for obstacles that stand in the way.
Read something inspiring, and useful, and imaginative, and relevant to the struggles you’re going through. Prefer a self-improvement book with oodles of ideas to test in your own life. Prefer an actual book over digital—the blue light from screens interferes with your melatonin production and sleep cycle.
Reading programs your mind to think in terms of solutions, not obstacles.
Anytime you feel down, and especially before bed, use these five steps to rewire your brain, and to encourage a lively and positive mind.
Article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen.com