Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In Search of "Happy"

This week I've been reading The Ultimate Introduction to NLP:  How to Build a Successful Life by Richard Bandler.  Although I already had the first pieces to the puzzle, it gave me a bit of an Aha! moment.

In a typical NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) fashion, I ask you to think of something fun.  Think of a time when you were wildly happy.  If the moment doesn't make you feel like giggling right now as you're thinking about it, you probably need another moment.  Think of one of the best feelings you've had.  Maybe something so good, you would be embarrassed to share it.

Got it?

Now notice where you feel the emotion in your body.  Where does it start?  What part of you?  Where does it move to?  Play with the movement of the emotion.  See if it has a color associated with it and see if you can move it through your body.  Visualize a lever named "Fun" in your mind and picture moving the feeling throughout your body by moving the lever.

Congratulations.  You have just created a lever in the control panel of your mind where you can access "fun" or "happiness" whenever you want.

I've mentioned the Law of Attraction before in this blog.  Step 4 of the Law of Attraction is to "Nevellize" (a term coined by Joe Vitale honoring Neville Goddard, an earlier pioneer in the field of the Law of Attraction.)  To "Nevellize" is to feel as if you are already living the life of your dreams.  If you were living your dream life, you'd probably feel pretty happy, huh?  You just built a lever to help you Nevellize.  At the same time, we tend to attract people and events that broadcast at our same frequency.  There's a very good argument that, if you flipped your switch to "fun" every morning before you went to work or whatever else you did during your day, you would attract only more fun and happiness to you.  Even if you didn't believe in the Law of Attraction, couldn't you argue that, by choosing to be happy, your days would be happy?

Now that was not my Aha! moment.  I had already learned that if a person can control his mind and choose to be happy, he/she will be happier.  It had been a slow realization that came from Eckhart Tolle's quote that I no longer con recall well enough to quote.  Basically it was addressing the need to go find yourself and was something like "it takes no time to be you."  It also came from witnessing other people who had the belief that you could simply choose to be happy and their subsequent successes and failures.

Now maybe some of you, when I told you to think of a time when you were wildly happy, were faced with an empty head completely silent of any suggestions.  Maybe you were left with a big, "hmmmm let me think about this a moment."  If so, you're not alone.  I was in that exact same place the first time I was ever approached to do this exercise.  First, my mind was a big empty black hole.  Then, I had a few memories of good times but they were irrevocably intertwined with bad things that happened later.  In fact, a good portion of my life has been lived in search of "happy."  At times it has been a little embarrassing.  My search has come up in conversations with other people.  Friends, who invariably would say, "What about when we did this?  You had fun.  You certainly laughed a lot."  It was embarrassing because I lacked the skills to explain that, while their memories seemed vivid and fully detailed, mine were weak and pale, lacking any real substance.  That was my Aha! moment.  I can explain now because I understand what was happening to me and I know what to do about it.

As Richard Bandler asks in the book:  Have you ever had an argument and then replayed it in your memory afterwards?  Have you ever replayed an argument for what added up to be much more time than the actual argument lasted?  How about this.  Have you ever played an argument in your mind, which hasn't happened, but you anticipate it might?  You might imagine that my answers were yes, yes and yes!  And you'd be right.  In the book, Bandler refers to a client who has replayed arguments she had with her mother for years after her mother has died.

How much of the present moment do you think you experience when you're mentally in the audience for an argument that happened years ago?  As a child, I learned to constantly troubleshoot my environment.  I was always watching my mother's mood, desperate to keep it from switching, but wanting to be aware the instant it did.

Have you ever put a very dry sponge into water?  A sponge so dry that it took it a moment to actually be able to absorb anything?  That was me and "happy."  Basically, I pursued being happy.  I did "happy things."  But I did them like I was the Universe's Secret Service and I was always on the job.

I attracted a lot of other people like me into my life too.  I once went on a trip to Walt Disney World with a man who later told me his every day "base" emotion was anger.  Now that was a fun trip.  He spent his trip being angry about the lines, how much things cost, and the fact the rides emptied into gift shops and I spent my trip micro-managing how to keep him from getting angry.

It's funny.  I got that way because I had been hurt and scared a few times and I wanted to protect myself from it happening again.   What I really did to myself, though, was lock myself in a mental prison of worrying about all the worst things that could happen and I very nearly threw away the key.

But I didn't.  If you can relate to what I've said and have problems naming a time you were "happy" too.  You can retrieve the key as well.

1.  Practice being in the present moment.  Life happens in the present moment.  It is the only moment we actually have.  The past is passed and the future is just an idea.  Be here now.  One excellent tool for doing that is Gil Mciff's Three Step Clearing Method.  I mentioned it in a previous blog entry ("The Law of Attraction and What You Resist, Persists" October 7, 2014.)  But here it is again.

Three Step Clearing Method by Gil Mciff

Feeding what you want is natural and easy, you are already doing this in many ways.

The emphasis of this practice is focused on starving what you don't want by simply observing your emotions and thereby dis-identifying from being them.

Your habitual state of consciousness is the number one determinant of your personal circumstances.  The quality of your consciousness in this moment is the primary determinant of your future.  And what determines the quality of your consciousness is your degree of presence.  

Check in 10x a day with the question: "How am I feeling emotionally in my body right now?"

You can use a reminder app or alarm on your phone, sticky notes placed in random places, paint one fingernail different from the rest, wear your watch on the opposite wrist or upside down, or put a bandaid on your finger.  Every time this catches your attention, ask yourself, "Emotionally, how do I feel in my body right now?"

(A further suggestion my fellow coaching student told me was to do it every time you needed to use the toilet or took a drink of water.)

If there is ANY kind of negativity or if it is simply a lower emotion than you would like to be feeling, the fact is you did not choose it.  It's based on conditioned interpretation and is simply an old program running and it is time to do the following 3 steps:

(If you are feeling what you would like to be feeling then start with step 2.)

1.  Say These Specific Words - There it is.  That's not me.  That's a program.  

2.  Observe it deeply.  What physical and emotional sensations do I feel?  Where do I feel them?  Or simply I feel it (here,) it feels like (this.)  Realize who is doing this inquiring?

3.  Thank you for checking in.  I love you, I love you, I love you.  Thank you for no longer feeding the program.  Thank you for dis-identifying from the program, thank you for catching yourself and for no longer losing energy here.  Thank you for whatever you want to say thank you for.  I love you, I love you, I love you!

There it is.  That's not me.  That's a program.
I feel it here (location,) it feels like this (characteristics.)
Thank you for checking in, I love you I love you I love you.

These steps are not for the purpose of getting rid of the negative feeling (i.e. resisting and therefore feeding what we don't want.  That benefit may sometimes come with it, but this practice is more about implementing a new habit/program.  So every time you observe the emotion, it's an opportunity to do this practice without judgement.  It doesn't matter what emotion is there, what matters is that you simply observe it without giving it any meaning.  When this becomes habit you will have successfully reprogrammed the unconscious perpetuation of the old reaction with the automatic newly programmed conscious response.

It takes less than 30 seconds to do this practice.  30 seconds at 10x a day = 5 minutes
How many days will it take before this healthy response has become a new program for you?

2.  Actively choose to be happy.  Do the "Fun" lever exercise and build a control panel in your head that helps you select how you want to feel rather than being on a treadmill of worry or negativity.  Start each day with a happy frame of mind.  When you are in the midst of a happy experience, really feel it.  Take in all of the sensory details.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What if, instead of resisting it, you could love it?

While talking with my accountability coaching partner a couple of weeks ago, he asked me, rather persistently, "What do you resist?"

Because whatever you resist, persists.

Finally, quietly, I admitted.

"I resist confrontation."

A few days later, talking with my own coach about one of my clients, I remembered the conversation and told him about it.  Once again I admitted my emotional Achilles Heel.

He said, "What if, instead of resisting it, you could love it?"

I've been thinking about it ever since.  As I've said many times in this blog, I am no stranger to self-help, change, and all sorts of emotionally immature positions.  Over the years I have embodied all sorts of damaged people.  For example, I haven't always resisted confrontation.  Once upon a time, I walked the world, a big oozing open sore just waiting to complain.  I have experienced road rage at something as simple as a driver in another car maneuvering out of turn in traffic.  I used to have an opinion about everything and I was eager to share them and debate with you.  At some point, someone, whose opinion I cared about, told me, "You really like to argue."  Even as I voiced, "No I don't," I wasn't immune to the realization that my very protestation was, in fact, the potential beginning of yet another argument.

A part of me understands that, under the Law of Attraction, we attract whatever we hold a great deal of energy about.  Not only do we attract it, but we attract it according to the frequency by which we are tuned.  If we have a great deal of negative energy about money, for instance, and have a bunch of negative limiting beliefs like "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer," we're likely to find ourselves walking the treadmill of our beliefs.  I have a great deal of negative energy about confrontation.  I've walked the walk of an "assertive personality" to the point where I was really rather aggressive.  I've talked the talk of a "passive personality" to the point where I was criticized as a "doormat" and suffered greater friendship losses than back when I would actively pick a fight with them.

What if, instead of resisting confrontation, I could love it?

When I first admitted my resistance to my accountability partner, we were talking about one of my clients.  As per what I saw as our "agreement," I was coaching her and giving her assignments in line with the curriculum.  Each week, despite my request for emails documenting the work she had done, I would receive nothing.  My inquiries at our next meeting as to whether she had performed a task were usually met with, "I forgot."  When I talked about the experience with either my accountability partner or my coach, they suggested phrases they might have said which felt rude or abrasive to my ears.

When I was a kid, my parents used to fight.  I don't think a week could go by without what felt like a very large brouhaha to my ears.  In Woody Allen's "Radio Days" the main character talks about his own parents fighting, "Then there was my father and mother.  Two people would could find an argument in any subject."  The scene cuts to the actors playing the parents arguing over which is the greater ocean.  The Atlantic or the Pacific.  "I mean, how many people fight over oceans?"

I can remember being dragged into their arguments as a kid.  Being asked to choose which one of them was right and while I struggled in miserable indecision, they never quieted down to see if I gave an answer.  As an adult riding in the back seat of their car listening to them bicker, I said, "Stop fighting.  I'm sick of listening to you fight."  In unison they turned and looked at me.  "This isn't fighting.  You think this is fighting?  I can show you fighting.  Would you like to see fighting?"  

If I were to pick a visualization metaphor for how I feel during confrontation.  I would pick one of those gelatinous creatures you sometimes find high and dry at the beach.  I guess they are some sort of jellyfish caught in the wrong place at the wrong time when the tide shifted.  Exposed and vulnerable, they can't protect themselves if you should decide to poke them and puncture them with a stick.  Honestly, I know I'm not that vulnerable, but the harsh words in a confrontation feel very much like being taunted with a stick.  No matter what I do, whether I try to shield myself or not, the person brandishing the stick will shove it and wave it until they feel they are done.  Really I feel less like a jellyfish than Frankenstein's monster cornered by the villagers, helplessly grunting, but thinking, "Your beef is with Frankenstein, the doctor.  I'm just the creature.  I didn't ask for any of this.  I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Except some times I am the doctor, not the creature.  I once found myself in a heated debate with the love of my life about which was better, Apple computers or PCs.  It ended as all of our confrontations did, with him having pulled away and me, willing to rewrite all of my programming if I could only see him smile.  Once we began that little confrontational dance, we would find ourselves caught in its rhythm every three months or so.  Right up until the end.  Sometimes I wouldn't even have a firm grasp on just what it was that I had said or I had done to cause his discomfort.  For me, the only part significant or important; the only part that hurt, was his pulling away.

What if, instead of resisting confrontation, I could love it?

I think my difficulty with the question stems from the fact it isn't a goal I can achieve.  Rather it is a byproduct of other things.  Confrontation hurts because I take its attacks personally and see it as a source and cause of rejection.  Confrontation disturbs because I view my peace of mind as being something others can disrupt and damage.  Confrontation threatens because I see speaking up for myself as an act of defiance.

What if, instead of resisting confrontation, I could love it?

It would mean I have truly accepted myself for who I am and I would attract others who have done the same.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Love, Sympathy, Empathy and Drowning Victims

This morning, my sinuses feel like I'm coming down with a cold.  I didn't get a lot of sleep last night because I kept hearing my cats make noise all over my house.  The only problem with that?  My cats both stayed at the vet last night.

Which of course means I'm missing my kitties because I haven't seen them in two days.  I'm sitting here at work when I'd rather be curled up in my bed drinking hot tea or chicken noodle soup.

Do you feel sorry for me?  Sympathetic?

But at least I'm inside where it is warm and dry rather than working outside in the snow or rain.

But at least my kitties are both actually still living and simply had to stay at the vet overnight due to some construction at my house.

Those sinuses?  Probably not a cold, but just the day after breathing in a bit too much dust from my house  ....   where I am having my kitchen and bathroom rebuilt.

Still have sympathy for me?

This morning I watched an excellent video about empathy and sympathy on Facebook.  I highly recommend it.  The Power of Empathy!  It really caught my attention because only last night I was emailing my therapist and telling him I felt I needed to be a bit less empathetic.

The first time I ever really considered the difference between empathy and sympathy was when I was reading a self-help book I found at a thrift store.  It was called Know Your People and had been published by some church.  (Sorry, I don't remember which one.)  The premise was if you can understand other people's behaviors, you can populate your world with people who help you rather than hurt you.  The only takeaway I had from the book was a little story about a man whose wife sympathized with him.  The man had always wanted to be a writer.  In terms of actually writing and getting the work done, he was a writer, but he had never been published.  By the time he married, he had an entire shoebox of rejection letters.  His wife watched him write.  She knew about his shoebox and when he received his first "Sorry we're not interested at this time" after their wedding, she put her arms around him and said,

"I'm sorry, honey.  Here you put all that work into your book and no one appreciated it.  Maybe you should just take a break from writing for awhile."

The man never wrote again.  The story really caught my attention because I have always wanted to be a writer and, like the man and woman, I have mistaken sympathy for love.  As a matter of fact, I have only been married once, to a man who was not a bad guy, but who simply didn't live by the same rules as I did.  I lived through story after story where, rather than do what I would have considered the polite and loving thing, he did the thing I found the most inconsiderate and rude.  Like any ego-blocked emotionally immature 24-year-old, I simply told him how he should have behaved and kept moving forward.  Then, after spending the night at his condominium, I woke up feeling much as I do today.  He tucked me in with a blanket on his couch and turned on his television.  Before he left for work, he checked my temperature by touching my neck or my brow and gave me a kiss goodbye.  I was delighted, thinking I had finally seen an unmistakeable sign that he loved me.

There is so much wrong with my way of thinking then that I almost don't know where to begin to unravel it for you.  First, I should have been looking a lot more at whether or not I loved him than whether he loved me.  (Early in the relationship, my empathy for him and his childhood generally ruled the day on that front.  He had a handful of embarrassing stories and hurt feelings and since I had a fistful of my own, I felt for him.)  Second, I should have given a lot more weight to the incompatibility of our style of loving.  It is hard to live a joyful, happy life when you are always correcting someone as to how they should treat you and it is just as difficult when someone is always correcting you.  Truly loving someone means accepting him or her as is, without expecting them to get it after awhile.  It means not looking for where your partner will let you down or offend you.  It doesn't mean simply allowing a person to treat you badly.  The first person you need to love is yourself.  Do that and you will naturally attract a partner who loves him/herself and neither of you will be trying to fill an empty love bucket that can't ever quite be filled.

Sympathy kills dreams and keeps a person a victim.  When we are victims, we've always been cheated in some way.  We never have enough and, like one of Pavlov's dogs, we become trained to ring the poor me bell to get those drops of sympathetic attention.

What if the man's wife had had similar dreams to his?  What if she had years of rejection letters herself for photography or painting.  Of course, it depends on why the man wanted to be a writer.  If he simply wanted to see his name on a book, perhaps it isn't such a bad thing that he stopped.  But if writing was something that made him feel alive, something for which he had a true passion, wouldn't a response that encouraged him to continue working on his dream been more loving?

"I'm sorry honey.  I know you must be disappointed.  I've been there myself.  Remember, Harry Potter wasn't accepted at the first publishing house J.K. Rowling submitted it to."

Wait a minute.  Here I am advocating empathy over sympathy, but at the beginning of this blog entry, I said I had told my therapist I felt I needed to be less empathetic.  How does that work?

I believe that every person has a story.  Each and every one of us has these fragile little moments where we were hurt or afraid.  Let me give you an example.  I used to go camping up on the Mattole River with a bunch of acquaintances.  I only knew one or two of the people there, so I spent most of my time hiding behind a video camera documenting the event.  There were two large rocks that made for natural diving boards and one year I filmed a young girl who climbed up to the highest rock only to find herself a bit hesitant to jump in.  I filmed her relentlessly, thinking what a wonderful film I would have of her overcoming her fear.  Except she never did.  After a half hour or so, I turned off the camera, realizing I had actually documented her failure and moment of succumbing to fear.  I felt horrible.  Instead of having a triumphant video to give her parents, I had a moment, perhaps beautiful in its fragility, but documenting a person's fear and weakness.   Now I stopped going to those camping parties, so for all I know the girl jumped off the rock the very next year.  At the time though, it felt like someone had placed a heavy thumb on my chest because, while witnessing her turn and slowly descend back down the rocks without jumping, I could remember all the times I had done something similar.  I could recall and revisit just how I felt letting my actions be guided by fear.

I need to empathize less because it is a tool I usually bring out to understand someone who I believe is hurting.  I never see someone who is ecstatically happy and try to touch the place inside me that felt the same.  I dig into my worst moments to understand other people's behavior.  Hurt people have a tendency to hurt people.  I am the sort of person who believes that my best chance at protecting myself, as well as being any sort of benefit to that hurt person, is by empathizing and understanding.  At the same time, there are people who have been hurt far more than simply being afraid to jump off a rock.  Being able to empathize while also shielding yourself from taking on that pain is like developing a muscle.  It takes time and there will be days where you can hurt yourself with the weight.  Like an inexperienced lifeguard, I could be swept away myself.  But even that isn't actually the reason.  In my coaching lessons, I've been taught to distinguish between potential clients who are "interested" in the material and those who are "truly committed" to making a change in their life.  As I told my therapist, some people are like open dirty sores and they have no intention of cleaning them.  Understanding and empathizing involves taking on a bit of that pain, if only for a moment.  What I've learned is it is better to limit myself to those who have willing stepped into the lifeboat.  It is the more loving path for both of us.  For them, because I am accepting them as they are and not expecting them to change and for me because I have more gifts to give than simply swallowing and understanding another human being's pain.

Finally in the words of my therapist, "there is something wrong when you are working harder than your client."  In contrast to drowning victims,  no one really saves anyone else from their emotional battles.  We all save ourselves.  When you keep fighting the good fight for someone who isn't fighting for himself, you are actually being dishonest, like telling someone who is standing upright at the shallow end of the pool,

"Look at you!  You're swimming!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lenticular Postcard World : Contemplation, Thinking and Perception

This week, as part of my studies, I watched Bruce Lipton - The New Biology - Where Mind and Matter Meet 1 of 2 and Bruce Lipton - The New Biology - Where Mind and Matter Meet 2 of 2.  For those of us who live in a world where the Law of Attraction is not only a possibility, but a law which governs how our worlds work, Lipton talks about some pretty amazing stuff.  He explains how some of it works on a biological level.  It takes two videos because he has to cover a great deal of scientific ground and bring non-scientists "up to speed" so we can simply grasp the basic principles at work.  For those of you particularly interested in how the Law of Attraction works in connection with your health and aging, it is a "must see" pair of videos.


My coaching coach suggested I look at the ideas of contemplation, thinking and perception for my blog this week.  My father used to call me "a photographer's photographer."  In his world view that meant I was so "into" photography that I had reached the point where some of my photography could only be appreciated by other photographers.  In our relationship, I think it really meant he acknowledged my work was technically very good and he couldn't make an argument against it, but he didn't like it.  I would say I have taken his phrasing and simply apply it to people who are so deeply in love and involved with whatever they are working with, they can lose track of time within it and sometimes can't see beyond it.  Viewed that way, in addition to being "a photographer's photographer," I am undoubtedly "an over-analyzer's over-analyzer," "a thinker's thinker" and I've been "a worrier's worrier."  My coach's suggestion was right in my wheelhouse.  It is an area that is one of my favorite playgrounds, as well as being the area which gets me into the most trouble in terms of personal growth, the Law of Attraction, and any journey to enlightenment.

Let's start with RenĂ© Descartes.  "I think, therefore I am."  The problem with pithy little quotes which have been around since the 1600's is that we hear them and our logical brain says to us, "I get it."  Without reading Descartes' work, we run with the idea and draw all sorts of adjacent conclusions including many which elevate humanities importance over other species as well as somehow equating our own importance as to our ability to think and the quality of our thoughts.  Meaning a greater thinker is a more enlightened or important human.

I'm not trying to be the greatest human or thinker when I say, what Descartes meant was "I think, therefore I exist."  In other words, he was thinking in a way philosophers and stoners do all the time.  In case you are neither, think of it like the movie The Matrix or consider this quote from 1982's Swamp Thing, "Everything's a dream when you're alone."  You perceive the world through your senses.  You only experience the world through you.  In the absence of you, FOR YOU, there is no world.  In other words, don't ask when the world is going to end.  It ends every day for somebody.  Once Descartes' mind went down the rabbit hole of "how can I prove what exists and what does not," he concluded that a human's capability of thinking about whether or not he or she exists proves existence in itself.

If you google it, most of the internet agrees the average human thinks anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day which breaks down to 35 to 48 thoughts per minute.  If you were to try and lasso all of those thoughts and write them down, you could never do it because about 95% of them are thought by your subconscious mind.  Your subconscious mind's thoughts are generally about things you do and think habitually.  They are a product of your beliefs and mindset. They contain the warehouse of thoughts you acquired by observation from your parents, teachers and other people who influenced you.  In the five steps of the Law of Attraction, your subconscious thoughts also contain the limiting beliefs which hamstring your efforts at building the life of your dreams.  For those who use affirmations, your subconscious is where your habitual negative thoughts and worrying run rampant.

Your thoughts are colored by your perception of reality.  Perception is defined as "the state of becoming aware of something through the senses," but for humans, it doesn't stop there.  We aren't just aware.  We label whatever it is we are aware of as either being good or bad based on our past experiences or our belief system.

We step outside.  Goosebumps form on any exposed bits of skin and our breath is visible.  Snow is visible on the ground.  It is cold.  Perception + awareness.  Some of us smile with delight and go have a snowball fight.  Others shiver and have furrowing brows as they retreat back indoors for a warm drink.

We go to an amusement park and look at the newest roller coaster.  Some of us grimace, put a hand in front of our mouths and claim, "I get nauseous just looking at it."  Others grin and shiver with excitement and can't seem to get into line fast enough.

For some people cold and roller coasters are bad, while for others they are delightful.  Our individual perceptions create our reality.

Here's one I thought about a lot after my father died.  He and I occasionally had what you might call a volatile relationship.  We actually agreed on a lot of things, but we disagreed on even more.  I found him to be critical, judgmental, and occasionally, just mean.  When I was growing up and while my mother was alive, my parents kept very much to themselves.  They never attended any school functions.  My father worked, but he commuted about 45 miles to work each day.  Neither of them "hung out" socially with other people in the small town where we lived.  So my experience of my parents was generally one on one with only them.  In other words, I wasn't normally around them in the company of other people.  After my mother died, I began including my father in events that also included my friends.  In the beginning, inwardly I braced myself, prepared to apologize for his behavior, but I found that other people saw his behaviors as funny and charming.  Where I saw someone "just mean," they saw a funny old curmudgeon.  The worst thing I ever heard anyone call him was "a rascal."

Our individual perceptions create our reality.

I don't know when my perceptions about my father switched my reality toggle to "just mean."  From what I've heard, while he might have been completely onboard with having a baby, actually being around one, particularly when she was crying, was harder for him.  I've been told he sometimes resorted to simply yelling "Stop that!" at me.  At the same time, if it is a picture of me when I am young and I am crying, I am almost always with my mother.  Either way, it was only after my father died that I was removed far enough from the situation to contemplate it (or look thoughtfully at it for a length of time) and consider that perhaps my encounters with my father had been stuck on a treadmill of always experiencing him as I did because that was the only lens through which I could see him.

As I've gotten older, I've noticed how my opinions of what something means seem to age with me and change.  Sometimes they occur as "aha" moments where I think I suddenly understand a meaning that should have been clear to me in the first place.

How about the saying, "it's always in the last place you look for it?"  How many of you experienced that saying for the first time like it was a Murphy's Law for lost things?

"Yeah, why can't things be in the first place you look?"  

In the words of the comedian Billy Connelly, "Of course it is.  Why would you keep looking for it after you've found it?"

Oooops.   A diatribe about the irritations of life reduced to a joke.

How about the saying "only the good die young?"  I have to admit that one mystified me for years.  I'd hear my parents say it after a young person died and I'd think, "Well it is sad.  They had their whole life ahead of them, but why say that person is 'good?'  Does that mean that everybody past a certain age is bad and those deceased young people just didn't live long enough to turn bad?"  It was only after I experienced someone dying, who really wasn't that young, but who everyone seemed to miss on a level of "too soon.  We lost this person too soon" that I had an 'aha' moment of clarity.  At the time, it was liking finding an answer to the secret of life.  I thought that my understanding, which was "only the good die young means that only people who are perceived as good and loved by others are missed in a way where people say, 'it was too soon or he/she was too young," was THE meaning of the saying.  In other words, I had stumbled onto one of my beliefs (aka a firmly held opinion or conviction) and like anyone with a belief, I was absolutely gobsmacked when I proudly presented it to a friend and was met with "well, that's your opinion."

It all comes back to those philosophers, stoners and Descartes.  Whether you are pontificating about your beliefs, contemplating, thinking deeply or simply musing, you perceive the world through your senses.  Other people can report to you about their perceptions, but you will hear what they say through your ears and your mind will filter the details in a way that makes sense to you.

It's like an optical illusion.  Have you ever seen the one where you are either looking at a skull or a young woman admiring herself in a dressing mirror?  It's only after viewing it a small amount of time AND knowing there are two images possible that our eyes find the pathway to see the picture we didn't see in the first place.

So consider this.

Every day.  Every minute.  You are witnessing the metaphorical equivalent of skulls or young women admiring themselves in a dressing mirror.  Except there is no one to tell you there is another image possible for you to see.