A memory popped up on my Facebook timeline - a quote from Wayne Dyer. What seems a million years ago now, I was living in North Vancouver, BC, working in retail and at a coffee shop and a climbing gym. I needed all of the jobs to just pay the expenses of living in BC. My boyfriend and I had landed here after three months of road tripping through the wealth of climbing areas in the United States. We had covered New Hampshire, West Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Texas. All living out of a Mazda GLC backed with our climbing gear, camping gear and dreams.
Despite our many adventures, or perhaps because of our sudden return to the world of slaving at jobs and spinning in circles to just make enough money, we had split. My partner decided that perhaps he would go to University, climbing dreams no longer fit his aspirations, he had become someone I did not recognize. Heartbroken and overwhelmed with still having to live in the same space, figure out what to do about our dog who disliked being home alone so much that she would dig at the floor if we went out.
I perused the self help section of a local bookstore looking for something to make me feel better about life. I came across this book titled, “Your Erroneous Zones,” by Wayne Dyer. And as I read the first few pages I was hooked. So hooked I still have a copy of the book. An idea I had never before considered was presented to me and it made so much sense I had to read more.
Emotions are born from thoughts. Thoughts are born from our memories, our ideas of who we are. AND we get to choose thoughts. Read that again… we get to choose our thoughts. I can choose to believe a rainy day means bad weather or a rainy day means a good weather day. I can choose to think my partner leaving our relationship is good OR that it is bad. It follows that if I believe his leaving is bad, I will feel bad. If I choose to believe his leaving is good… I will feel good.
Surely, happiness cannot be so simple. Can it? Obviously not.
I said finally, but really that is not it. Choosing how you think about the routes immensely impacts your success, and failure on the route. When someone does not believe they can climb a route, the move is too reachy or the holds are too small, the angle is too steep, they choose thoughts that affirm their inability to be successful. Often then, those thoughts become reality. Tommy Caldwell didn’t complete the Dawn Wall believing it was impossible. He completed the route because he kept the door open to the idea that it could be done.
Often when we choose to believe something is impossible, we feel bad. The moves are too reachy for me, becomes, ‘the routesetters set something reachy,’ then along on its tail rides the emotions of righteous indignation. Or if we disagree with someone’s actions, we believe they should not have done what they did, we are right, and again…. Righteous indignation rides shotgun. I will not state any one political issue of the day, but after #metoo, almost two years of Covid, finding unmarked graves and 4 years with Trump, I think you can find many ideas that have borne out this example.
Trouble is, righteous indignation really doesn’t have the intended impact of getting us what we think will make us happy. Why?
Another book delivered this gem… “if I defend myself, I am attacked.”
Blame and accusation points the finger out to someone else. And we often take that stance to protect, defend our idea of how the world should be. “Routesetters should not set reachy routes.” Even if we could get the whole world to agree with us - an impossibility - we would not have changed our need to be right. The need to be right is a very heavy burden to lift and carry everywhere. It keeps you at war all the time. Because your identity is held together by the conditions of being right. AND there will always be another route, or another movement or ideology to go to war over.
In the relationship I started this story with, I was the girlfriend, loved by this man. Suddenly, his desire to leave the relationship changed one of my many identities. I was no longer the girlfriend. I was no longer in a relationship and loved in that romantic way. So war started… the struggle began. The struggle to be right… to be loveable, to reaffirm the identity. War. And war means being unhappy.
With each loss it was those words… choose happy, not right that made all the difference. If I choose to be right, I am choosing to tell someone else they are wrong and that creates division. Separation. Choosing happy is to choose to look for the joy in the moment I am in, not the past I lived or the prospective future I planned. To choose happy is to choose to live right now. To choose curiosity is humility. It is the most vulnerable and bravest choice you can make.
Last week I posted a quote with the sentiment…
“...see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves…. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ’struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary.”
When we defend our identities and hold tightly to them, we hold the attitude of struggle and take ourselves very seriously. We separate ourselves from peace and it is only in peace that we can connect with ourselves and those around us. We cannot grow, nor can we celebrate and feel the joy that is always available to us.