Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saturday, May 13: Chapter 12: Tried and False

Is there such a phrase? Tried and false, as the opposite of tried and true? Who knows? I don’t. But I’ll use it anyway, and see what happens.

The point of this section is to list some ways that don’t work to get another person or ourselves out of unhappiness, or if they do work, they are setting up processes that are counter to long term happiness.

So, here’s the first: Telling someone they are wrong. “You aren’t really unhappy.” “How can you be unhappy? You have a red car, a green wife and a blue house.” Or whatever.

Another is this: Telling someone to fling it off. “Snap out of it.” “Pull yourself together.” “You can do better than that.”

Here’s one, that seems to work, but ends up sending the message that the person will get a reward if they are unhappy. This is the way of sensualizing them out of their unhappiness. Tickling a child, say. Or, making love to an adult. It works, sometimes spectacularly, all those tears converted into orgasm, but what’s the message: Want good sex? Get really unhappy first, and I’ll come rescue you.

People eating and drinking to escape unhappiness is closely related, though a little different. Both damp down the bad feelings, depress the whole system, a kind of numbing that seems to feel good because it is lessening the pain. You’ve heard the drinkers saying, “I’m not feeling any pain.” Or, as the face is stuffed with ice cream or whatever, satisfaction does come to the taste buds and the nerves that are programmed for us to eat fat to keep from starvation, but again, this problem: a reward for feeling unhappy. And again: missing a chance to discover what our unhappiness is all about.

An interesting paradox here: Happiness is good, but unhappiness is not bad. When we treat it as bad, we are like the physical therapists, or message folk, good hearted wonderful people, who want to eliminate whatever is “wrong” in the body, rather than taking what is going on as a beginning of a map that will lead us to self knowledge and radical improvement.

This could be what this exploration of happiness and unhappiness is all about: once more we have a choice of “fixing” as a quick elimination of the problem, or a deep and radical healing, where we can get better and better and better. So we don’t “snap out of it,” we aware into it, and come out whole and healed.

And happy.


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