Give up pretending to be responsible and start seeking your own approval instead.
1. Say “No” to your mother.
It doesn’t matter if you’re five or 85, or even whether she’s alive or dead. The right to disappoint your Mom (or, insert meaningful authority figure here) is probably the most potent key to freedom. If she’s no longer on this planet, check to see if she is still alive in your head. When you hear, “Why don’t you call me?” “Get a steady job” or “Don’t cater to your kids, you’ll spoil them,” you can respond, “Thanks, Mom. I’m not going to do that, and I love you.”
2. Ask yourself first.
The next time you feel obligated to do anything, check with yourself first. Do you actually want to do it? Many of us are so wired to respond automatically that we don’t leave time for an authentic answer to emerge. A good question to ask yourself is: Am I trying to talk myself into this (because I really don’t want to), or am I trying to talk myself out of this (because I really do want to)?
And what if it concerns something really critical, like your boss, your spouse, or your children’s welfare? Well, take a deep breath or three, and then make the daring leap to find out what your real answer is. If the answer turns out to be “no,” see Step One (if you can say “no” to your Mom, you can say it to anyone).
3. Spend more money.
I know, “Money can’t buy happiness,” but some of us get so tight around money that we throttle the God of Abundance before we ever get to hear the the whole story. My marketing coach, George Carroll says, “I love spending money! Every time I do, I start looking for how the Universe is figuring out how to pay it back, with interest.”
Ultimately it’s not the expensive dinner out or the fabulous new sunglasses that bring happiness. Rather, when we recognize that what we love is itself an expression of the divine then we can open the flow of abundance both inside and out. When we give ourselves the best that is available we create a relationship with joy.
4. Fall in love with the wrong people.
There is no criteria for falling in love. When we open to another it doesn’t matter who they are—rich, spiritual, good looking, old, young or even nice. Open to your fellow humans unilaterally and notice your actual impulses as a radical act of trust.
I once fell wildly l in love with the “wrong person.” The relationship didn’t last, but it did expose and destroy the dead life I had been living. Love may not take you where you think you’re going, but it will always take you where you need to go.
5. Feel an emotion in public.
We are so conditioned to act only within the narrow range of “neutral to happy” that showing a genuine emotion has become almost taboo.
A few years ago my veterinarian told me that my kitten had a bone disease and would likely die. As the news hit me, tears rolled freely down my cheeks. The doctor seemed slightly uncomfortable as though I must be one of those wackos whose life revolves solely around her 27 cats. Really? She must have had to give this kind of news not all that infrequently, yet my response seemed to surprise her.
For me, the few moment of awkwardness were vastly outweighed by the emotional honesty and freedom I felt in being fully authentic. What do we fear would happen if we showed a little humanness?
6. Stay in bed longer.
Feel the covers, actually savor them. Hurrying out of bed from anxiety, or the fear of being late, sucks. Nod back to sleep a few times, or a hundred if the day allows.
If you have appointments to get to, cancel them. Heck, if you were vomiting every half-hour you would have to anyway. Sometimes our emotional body needs the same slack. Worried that if you do this once you’ll want to do it everyday? Then you may have just come to the realization that you hate a good percentage of your life.
7. Do only what you love.
When you were five, you didn’t have to ask what you liked and didn’t, right? You knew who you wanted to be friends with, which part was the best in the class play, what you longed for on your birthday, and whether eating canned peas would make you barf or not.
What do you love doing, just in this moment? Going outside? Making love? Wrestling? Taking a nap? Eating a butterscotch candy? Do it. What do you dislike? Your job? Arguing with your spouse? Cleaning out the refrigerator? Stop doing it. It may take a few minute or a few years to find another way to make more money, meet the new love of your life, or be able to afford a house-cleaner. Dedicate yourself to that task.
What would it be like to follow the simple innocence that arises when the body says “yum”?
It points us to something outside the box of regular life—it points us back to ourselves. And really, once we realize that Mom can’t send us to our rooms anymore, things start to get a lot simpler.
Like elephant journal on Facebook.
~Ed: Kate Bartolotta