Friday, August 17, 2012

a rough story on how it began, for me

Accepting Responsibility for Your Happiness

I am a whole lot happier than I used to be; my outlook has brightened, relations with my family have strengthened, and I am more able to accept what life throws at me. I am able to be Jared and be OK with that.
My journey of self-acceptance began around 4 years ago. Back then I was thinking a lot about happiness, if it actually existed. I knew many people that were comfortable with their life - they had food, family, and security – but looking at them and their mannerisms, I couldn’t say they were happy. It just didn’t seem like material conditions could bring true happiness. I had a vague feeling one had to figure their life out for themselves, if that was even possible, and live in accordance to whatever they had figured out. Books like Siddhartha and The Alchemist were pivotal books in my life. They helped inspire me that there was something more, but no different than, ordinary life. I was driving home from a friend’s house one random night and realized I had a choice: believe in the possibility of happiness or believe in its impossibility. So I took a leap. This leap wasn’t logical and to this day I’m not sure if I took the leap or the leap took me, but either way, I chose to believe in happiness and to accept my own responsibility in the matter. Inspiration sometimes comes at the strangest times! 









It takes tremendous courage to accept responsibility for your unhappiness. For admitting unhappiness, in American society, is admitting failure. And if you admit failure you are forced to change. If you have been living your life a certain way and it hasn’t been working, if you admit that, then you must change. You are forced to change your routine, you are forced to try something new, you are forced to go into the unknown. Any significant change is difficult and scary - you know this, just as well as I do. Real change comes slowly and only at the expense of great effort. It is confusing and hopeless at times and one will fall down and one will get hurt. Yet, only real change will make you happier. No gimmicks, no shortcuts, no diets, no fads.


You’ll need the help others and you’ll need to help others. You’ll need to seek out advice and become humble. You’ll need to fail (a lot) and keep on going. And you’ll need some luck, but don’t worry about that, you’ll find plenty of luck along the way.

My luck was lucky when I found a book about Zen meditation - I just stumbled upon it at a bookstore. I was actually going to buy a different book but last second decided I didn’t want it. My life might’ve been much different had I just bought that book instead. Weird how these things work! Zen and meditation clicked with me, I don’t really know why. Something deep in my heart intuitively responded to it. When I try to go into more detail I always end up sounding silly. I just like Zen because I like Zen! But that’s not to say Zen and meditation will click with you. You have your own path and it’s OK for our paths to be different.
So anyways, I began sitting (meditating). And when I say I began sitting I mean this in the sense that I consistently began sitting - every morning and most evenings. I would also try my best to be mindful during the day. I remember being unpleasantly surprised when I heard I had to practice mindfulness during the day. I had thought that if I meditated once in the morning and evening my life would magically get better – I didn’t want to have to ‘be mindful’ during the day as well! 
Meditating is like eating healthy – if you don’t eat healthy on a regular basis you won’t experience the benefits of health. Likewise, if you don’t meditate regularly and apply mindfulness to your life you also won’t experience the benefits meditation!

The results

After some time had gone by, 3-5 months or so, I began noticing I was interacting with the external world in a slightly manner. Nothing major – just little things: I would catch myself reaching for a cookie and put it down and eat something else instead. I would turn off the TV and go to bed a little earlier. I would sit up more at my work instead of slouching. I cleaned my room. Just little things - but little things add up and become big things.
Today, I still am learning and continuing to grow. I am more accepting of my introverted qualities and quirky habits. I’ve found I like smiling at people. It’s quite fun J

(Disclaimer 2)

There’s a saying that meditation changes nothing and changes everything. Your problems aren’t going to go away by meditating. But you will relate to them differently. You are still going to die and be forgotten but maybe you’ll find yourself to be more Ok with that. You’ll still be you. Nothing magical. Sorry to break it to you.
If you’re wondering how meditation works, a good way to explain the process is this quote attributed to Buddha:
Meditation works by enabling one to become aware of their habitual thought patterns. Once one becomes aware of their habitual thought patterns they become less identified in thought, more free from mental chatter, more open to the present moment.
My advice
Don’t you try to change who you are. Work slowly day after day, one step at time. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. When I began meditating I was very consistent but I only started off with ten minutes. And follow your gut instinct.    Meditation worked well for me but who knows what will click for you.

I wish you the best. May the force be with you. Seriously.

Jared Levenson


CJ - Food Stories said...

Jared, I enjoyed your blog post and I also wanted to thank you for sharing your mindful eating information with my readers at Food Stories. I really liked the piece and feel like the readers connected with your words.

Jared Levenson said...

Why thanks CJ, I'm just starting to get into blogging, and guest blogging seemed like a good option to try out. Thanks for being so responsive and easy-going. I can tell you are a good writer!