Category Archives: Happiness

Should you Take the Adventure?

Chances are, you’ve heard the call.

The call might come in any manner. It might come from a tickling in the back of your mind. It might come when you see a sign in the most innocuous thing. It might come from a song you hear or an image in a frame. However it comes, you just know. It beckons you forth to come out into the world to discover new things about it and yourself. This urge to adventure is an intoxicating mix of fear and excitement.

The call comes loud and clear at first, but if you don’t respond it lays dormant. The location of the call does matter to you, but universally it doesn’t matter. It could be a city, the great plains, or the sea. It doesn’t matter. You just know you have to go there. And if it was so simple, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. You’d be there, expanding your understanding of what is possible, learning terrifying and beautiful new things. You’d shed some of your old ways of being and embrace new ones. You’d wake up with that feeling that every day is full of possibility, not just a means to an end.

But, like everyone, you have things that you might give up. You have an entire life to live right where you are. You may be responsible for others. Your choices might not be just your own. You probably have a job, a home, a community of some kind, and a lot that is warm and familiar. Setting off on this new adventure is a double-edged sword. Are you really willing to give up those things for the possibility of something better?

So when this feeling of adventure comes, what do you do?

Two different selves

This is frequent dilemma for many people. Consider the metaphor of a person with two selves. One self wants the warm and familiar and another wants the new and different. These two selves war and no matter who wins, this person doesn’t feel whole.

If the warm and familiar self wins, then regret could easily set in for this person. They might spend their days of routine thinking of all the things they could have missed – all the great journeys and destinations they might have reached. All the wonderful diverse people and events they might have met with. And mark my words, this feeling is poison. The familiar self wins the war but is slowly corrupted over time by the dieing soul of the adventurous self.

On the other hand, if the new and adventurous self wins, then the person might have no home. Not that their homeless mind you, but they might have no sense of home. They might move from place to place in search of that thrill of the new and different again. Yet regret of a different kind might afflict this person. They might look at the people around them and wonder how much more rich their life might feel if they committed to something – a job, a partner, a family – for a longer period of time. They might wonder what it would be like to be part of something bigger and something much more stable.

You may already think that these sound like the same problems, which is true. Both are an expression of a fear that another kind of life might be better or “the grass is always greener” syndrome. But notice that both selves yearn for the qualities of the other. This is because they aren’t selves at all, they are simply parts of one self. And if either one isn’t expressed, then neither one is satisfied. When both are satisfied, this yearning can dissappear.

So, is it a calling or an escape?

When invesitgating this feeling you have, “adventure” is too loose of a term to be able to get any real answers. Asking someone, “do you want adventure?” might be actually asking them about two different parts of their personality. Therefore I break it into two subcategories – a calling and an escape.

Wanting to escape, except for some terrible situations, is usually some form of not wanting to deal with what is. Furthermore, escaping frequently perpetuates whatever that problem is. In that case, the best thing you can do is face that thing you don’t want to deal with, and then see what you feel compelled to do. Escaping is a reaction to a situation you don’t want. If there isn’t a situation you don’t want, then you may not feel the need to escape anymore.

A calling, on the other hand, is from a much deeper place in your soul.

These feelings are virtually indistinguishable. Only through careful examination can you recognize which is which. Yet, though they elicit the same behavior, the quality of your experience will be colored by which feeling caused it.

Let me explain what I mean.

An escape is a fantasy. That one hurt, didn’t it? A fantasy is not supposed to be real. This is not to say that escapism isn’t healthy. It certainly is. Where it gets confusing is when escapism is confused with a calling. An escape is an illusion that things would be better if the circumstance of your escape were to be your reality. This happens to you all the time. In night dreams, day dreams, movies, music, listening to a person who you admire, etc. Escapism is a fundamental aspect of the human experience, and indulging in it can bring temporary satisfaction. The quality, then, is short lasting and ultimately empty underneath.

A calling is a message from the deepest part of you that this circumstance is where your passion and inspiration lies. Your true passion is the source of your unique and genuine expression and engaging with it brings a satisfaction that is much richer and longer lasting than that of escape. This is why writing something you’re proud of is so much more affecting than reading a really inspiring article. Though my plan is to change that :-) A calling is part of what separates the conscious from the unconscious people of the world.

However, If you are in an abusive situation and you truly do need to escape, I consider that escape plan a calling. That calling is telling you that you deserve better. Conversely, if your fantasy is to have a calling in the first place, it’s still an escape. Confused yet?

Now with those descriptions it will be easy to distinguish them right?

Not necessarily. For example, the emotion of fear often drives your behavior, but it doesn’t signify what caused the fear. Fear, because of it’s all consuming emotional quality, veils its own source. Moreover, fear comes in more forms than just the gut feeling you have when a bear is charging you. It comes in deception, in confusion, in thinking you want something that you don’t. It comes in laziness and lack of passion. So when it comes, it doesn’t mean its obviously masking escape or a calling.

An escape and a calling can be equally terrifying for different reasons. An escape can be fueled by fear because you’re afraid of whatever you’re dealing with that’s causing you to want to escape from it. You’re afraid that it won’t go the way you want, so if you simply leave the situation you won’t have to deal with it. You fear the failure of yourself to live your life in the way that you deem fit.

A calling is scary because you’re afraid of what will happen to the status quo when you really do what you want. This is a fear based on the assumption that if you are really happy you will lose everything you love. This is similar to mixing up the fear of failure with fear of success. These are different, and trying to fix one when it’s actually the other is ineffective. Fear is fear, and one can easily be confused with the other. If you move across the world because you don’t want to deal with your day to day – that’s escape. If you move across the world because deep down you’ve always yearned to do that thing – that thing that is the source of the burning in your heart – that is a calling.

In actuality, a calling can be even more scary than an escape. This is because, with escape, there is a part of you that knows that this isn’t what you really want, so you don’t have to actually consider the ramifications of really doing what you want. You can safely imagine what it would be like while knowing that where won’t be a moment in the future where you have to take those steps for real. It’s easy to imagine being with someone else if you don’t have to consider the consequences of breaking up your current relationship and giving up all that entails.

It gets more insidious when you realize that a coping mechanism with not taking up your calling is to pretend it’s an escape. “Oh I don’t really want to do that,” you think. This way you don’t have to feel the fear or apprehension associated with shaking up your life in order to get what you really want. The problem is that your inspiration and passion burns whether you like it or not. It’s the only fire that can never be fully extinguished. And if it can’t express itself, it will start burning you apart from the inside.

On the other hand, if you think a simple escapist fantasy is a calling, then the fire inside will sabotage your plans one way or another. You won’t quite pull it all together, or you will abandon everything and get there only to feel that emptiness where the fire should be. Meanwhile the problems you thought you left behind are part of you and will continue to express themselves one way or another.

Wow, are you afraid to do anything at this point?

Let me give you some questions and ideas that will help you tease out what the real feeling is. First, think about that thing that you want to do. Just hold it in your mind.

How do you really feel?

In this process we will go from shallow to deep. What I mean is I’ll cover the most obvious ways to determine your feeling and then move onto the more subtle and probing methods. With these later methods it may help to journal or at least talk it out with someone who you can trust and can listen.

Firstly, If your urge is far too unrealistic, like becoming a pirate astronaut, then it’s obviously escapist in nature. Putting aside the impossible, escapist urges tend to manifest in a few key ways.

1. Generally speaking, escapist fantasies are very specific. And escapism tends to take a variety of forms. If you’ve ever wanted to become a world class anything – dancer, race car driver, poet, lion tamer – and you haven’t even tried that thing or something like it yet, there’s a good chance you’re indulging in escape.

2. Added to this, escapism tends to be fleeting, so an easy way to check to see if your feeling escapist is to see if you still get the same emotional quality or charge from the idea a week later. A week is a long time for a false idea to stay propped up. Notice however that I said quality not intensity. Usually a calling feeling will remain similar in quality but its intensity will diminish over time unless you engage with it. And if you’re engaging with it, then what are you reading this for?

3. Since they are fleeting, escapist thoughts tend to come in a large variety, whereas a calling tends to focus on one single idea that can have multiple applications. So, what does a boat captain, a scientific researcher, and homeless person playing guitar on the street have in common? They are all equally escapist and completely unconnected. There is no throughline that is deeper.

4. Escapist thoughts tend to deal with discrete images, not interconnected lifestyles. They don’t take into account all that wouldn’t exist if those exact circumstances were to exist. If you ask somebody why they would want to indulge in this fantasy, chances are they will give you a specific emotion. This means that it’s not the image that excites them, it’s what the image represents. Yet still they focus on the image. If the focus of your attention is on the surface, not what it represents, most likely you are trying to escape. Chances are you could fulfill this urge some other way instead of flying around the world in a hot air balloon.

5. Escapist fantasies fill a void that’s in your life currently or fill a void caused by emotional events in your past. These fantasies are often very specific. “I could go live in the woods and become a hermit, that way I’d show everyone that I can be truly independent.” If your fantasy involves axe-grinding, then it is most likely escapist.

Notice that none of these are definite. That’s because in your quest of self examination you will realize just how insiduous you really are at deceiving yourself. In finding the true meaning of your feeling you may have to peel back multiple layers of self deception. Truth can often be hiding right beind a false belief, but just as often beginning to examine can bring you to a hall of mirrors. So, if you still can’t discern the difference, let’s continue. Now it will be important to at least spend some time talking about this with someone close to you and as unbiased as possible or journaling.

Ask yourself these questions

1. What do you truly want? This is an obvious question but while engaged in the miasma of what you really want out of life, it’s a good place to start to clear the air. It’s ok to answer as vague or as specific as you want at this part of the process. It’s also ok to write down many conflicting things. Don’t be concerned about what’s realistic or not or whether or not you think they are a calling or not. All that matters is that you answer honestly.

2. How does fulfilling this urge for adventure give you what you truly want or part of what you truly want?

3. On the flip side, how does fulfilling this urge for adventure not give you what you truly want? How does it stop you from those things that you want?

4. What does society/your friends/your parents/anyone else want from you or for you?

5. What does your past self want from you? This is a tricky one because you may believe that your past self and your present self are the same person. For the sake of this question, hold the belief that they are two different people. Now imagine you’re sitting in a room with your past self and ask your past self what they want for you and from you. Try going back a year, three years, five years, and 10 years.

Now comes the fun part. Are thre any parallels with the answers #5 and #6 with answer #1?

If there are, could you perhaps have internalized what others, including yourself in the past, want from you to the point where up until now, you believed you actually wanted it? No way…Of course you know yourself so well that you would never fall prey to that one, would you? Actually, most people do. We all influence each other and many of us carry the past around right along with us in our every day interactions.

What new insights have these connections shown you?

You may wish to go back and answer #1 again. Make sure you say or write “truly.” This accesses the deepest part of your mind where that fire burns forever. This won’t necessarily make your next action steps obvious or focus the direction of your life, but it will clear the fog of deception around this idea for at least a moment.

If this has worked, then it should be obvious to you how you really feel. If it still isn’t obvious, then just accept your denial of your true feelings and let it go for the time being. What you do know at least, is that you shouldn’t make the decision. By doing the asking, you are calling on your own subconscious to give you the answer. You will have the answer in time, you just may need to wait.

If you want to accelerate the process of understanding, start taking the steps to do what it is you think you want to do. Start telling people and making preparations for your grand adventure. Do you lose momentum or is every step you take further energizing you? If you find yourself losing momentum then it’s most likely just an escape.

If you’re worried what people are going to think of you for saying you’re going to do something big and different and then not, then just say “Thank you for helping me realize that this isn’t what I truly wanted.” Who doesn’t want to help people get what they truly want?

What if it is a calling?

If after you’ve done some reflection and self examination and taken the first few steps, you find that this big step truly is for you, then congratulations! You know which way you want to go in life, which is more than a lot of people can say.

The good news is that a calling is often much more general than an escapist fantasy. Callings come in the form of statements like, “I want to help people grow.” You don’t have to be in Africa giving out food to starving children to live this calling. You could just as easily help your neighbor or friends with the problems of their lives. A person who’s calling is to “Make art and express themselves” could be a musician, a painter, a writer, a video game programmer, an interior designer, and many more things. Moreover, you don’t have to have just one calling, but chances are they will dovetail in some way. I don’t have a specific definition of my calling yet, but I know it involves expressing myself, connecting with others, and exploring.

When you start finding that sweet spot of what you burn in your heart to do and what you’re already good at, then your quality of life skyrockets. What to do to follow your bliss isn’t the subject of this article, but especially if fear has clouded you in this process for a long time, you will need to make a pact with yourself.

You don’t have to write it in ink or blood, but you need to really understand that the fire that forever burns will not go out because of your timidity. If you do not respond to your calling, you will feel that emptiness that is the very heart of fear and the quality of your life will reach an unbreakable ceiling. You will not make the world a better place, nor will you be doing anyone who is part of your status quo any favors. You are not heroic by refusing that which you truly love. You need to say to yourself “Doing what I truly love is the most important thing in my life.” And then let go and let your life unfold for you from a place of clarity.

What do you do now?

Often knowing what you truly want to do is all you need to be able to attract the resources to do it. Before if you thought you really wanted something but secretly didn’t, you most likely had mixed results in getting that thing to happen. If something feels like a struggle, as opposed to being a struggle, then it’s likely that it is not a calling. When you move towards your calling, you will most likely struggle, but each struggle invigorates you when they are finished. A calling empowers you over time.

So, should you take the call to adventure? It depends. After reading this, you know that you should not do so rashly. Oftentimes the great adventure of your life is not out there. Sometimes it’s right where you are.

Being Playful

You want to go swing on the swings?
How about hang on the monkey bars?
No, then perhaps a nice game of four square will do the trick?

If you’re above the age of twelve these sound like ludicrous invitations. Yet the feeling that they can awaken within you – that feeling is anything but ludicrous. It is one of the great joys of living. I’m talking of course, about being playful.

In response to such a statement, some people might say, “what are you, ten years old?” By that they would mean that such things are childish. And the implication is that childish things have no place in the adult world where people get things done. Look no further than this bible quote:

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” – Corinthians 13:11

I agree that people should not shove each other, that they should share, and that they should not make messes that they don’t clean up. Playing, though, is something completely different. While playing is something you do as a child, it is not childish in the negative sense. In fact, playing is something that allows you to regain the innocence of childhood that so many people desperately seek. As odd as it sounds, playing can immensely increase your quality of life.

So now you’ve probably picked up some jacks and called your best friends to come over. While that’s all well and good (but slightly weird really) I’m not encouraging you to just engage in the act of playing, I’m encouraging you to become more playful in general.

What does that mean?

Like many things you want to change in your life, you would best be served by changing yourself first. Or a better way to look at it is, finding that part of yourself that already exists. So instead of thinking in terms of finding discrete external events in which you can engage in the act of playing, thinking of awakening that quality of playfulness itself.

This way you can be playful without needing external stimulus to do so. And this way you can be playful as often as you want in any situation. Really, being playful is beneficial in almost any situation. Perhaps not at a funeral, or when you’re being given a ticket by a police officer. Maybe not if you’re holding your friend as he dies on the battlefield. These are extreme examples, but I use them to show that more often than not you aren’t experiencing extenuating circumstances like this. But if there were a way for me to just take a reading of the subjective experience of the emotions in your brain while you were just going through normal parts of your life, I might think you were going through some grave circumstances. As the Joker would say, “Why so serious?” Playfulness allows you to regain the perspective that, all in all, things are pretty good in your life and on planet earth.

What is playfulness?

It is a quality of perceiving everything that happens in a way that is playful.

That doesn’t really say much does it?

If you were to dissect playfulness, what would be its core components? Put it another way, think of someone you know who is playful. What qualities does this person exhibit? What qualities do you exhibit when you find yourself in a silly mood?

What comes to mind for me is a lightness of heart, a feeling of engagement, and certain kind of connection. Perhaps even a certain exuberance. Think of a cat, chasing a string. Whether or not the cat knows its playing is up for debate, but the fact is that a cat acts very differently when a string is moving across their field of vision. A cat at rest might be laying down, grooming itself, sniffing around, or meowing incessantly. A cat at play however is bounding across the room, running into things, leaping and pawing, all after that elusive string. A cat puts the whole of their being into play. If the quality of seriousness is defined by how much of your attention is fixed on the object that you want to find you serious, playing is as serious as it gets.

Whether or not you identify yourself with cat-like attributes (I resoundingly do), the fact is you have a number of psychological and physiological changes that come when you shift into playing. They aren’t as pronounced to you as as an excited cat, but to the rest of the world they are. Playfulness is one of the key qualities that makes a person intensely magnetic. Because we all, at heart, want to be playful all the time. Adults envy children for their ability to see the world with such wonder. But this way of seeing the world is simply a devalued perspective in the larger societal messages we receive. It’s not actually impossible to regain, like some long lost friend. Yet many people think it is, because they are taught to believe it.

This is paradoxical, because while we’re taught to be serious and make something of ourselves, when we play we’re rewarded with better connections, more friends, and a much more positive and engaged outlook on life. If you consider the difference between these two ways of being, the serious way sounds insane.

So, when playing, you view things as less serious than you otherwise might, but you also engage more of your brain when interacting with the environment and in doing so, develop a much richer connection to whatever you’re playing with.

Myths of being playful

People will not respect you if you play too much.

This is completely untrue. When people want to be respected, they focus on developing confidence. But confidence by itself borders on arrogance which telegraphs to everyone an extreme lack of confidence. Have you ever heard someone say “that person is compensating for something”? While the saying refers to them having a shorter than average disco stick, the implication is that having this would cause them to have a dearth of confidence. Confidence itself is good, but what is it that confidence allows you to do?

Not be so serious.

When you’re confident a situation is going to go your way, you relax. And you might think that this was the exact cause and effect between these two events. The reality may be that the very act of relaxing causes the situation to go the way you want it to. Relaxing is just one of the many things that happens when you start being playful.

So a person who is in complete control exhibits many of the characteristics of a playful person. They are relaxed, less serious, less rigidly focused. And if you think of someone like this, what sort of feeling do you have towards them? For me, I have immense respect for people who shoulders immense burdens and stress and yet treats those situations with levity. A person who can remain playful even if things aren’t going their way. That’s the kind of person I want to be around if the world ever goes in to nuclear apocalypse. I don’t want to be around a bunch of glum uninteresting people who just want to survive. In fact, what are we doing this surviving stuff for, if not to enjoy life?

The point is that being playful generates all of the things that a person who feels powerless might like to feel. Things like confidence, respect, joy, connection, etc. And because so few people remember to be playful or forget it entirely, you stand out much more than the most authoritarian dictator. A person who can play has a foundation of a true leader.

You will lose control of your life if you don’t treat things seriously.

This is also not true. Think of when you’re actually playing something. I know it might have been a while, but can you remember a time you royally failed at whatever you were trying to do? Maybe you completely threw the basketball over the hoop. Maybe you drove that golf ball into a nearby house. What was going through your mind before this happened? I’m willing to bet it was something like “ok I’ve just got to focus here.” Something a serious parent might tell you. Then you froze up and failed to execute the thing the way you wanted to.

Contrast this with a time where you felt effortlessly good at something, the much coveted zone. What were you thinking about in that moment? Many people in this flow claim to not be thinking at all, but express more of a state of total experience of the now. This is a very attractive state to be in and it causes you to loosen up, be dynamic, think of ways of doing things you might not otherwise consider, and do this all at rapid pace and with perfect rhythm. Playing with your life in every way can make this phenomenon extend to anywhere. Is there anywhere in your life you think you might benefit from being more playful?

If you’re too playful you’ll lose focus.

First of all, that’s wrong. Second of all, this is really just fear of lack of control all over again. Third of all, what sort of focus are you talking about? The strained focus of which I’m speaking is one where you concentrate really hard on solving a problem or taking care of a situation. This only uses your conscious mind and takes up all of its available RAM. Playing, however, is much more deeply ingrained in evolutionary biology. People have played for centuries before they had to do their taxes. While its not good in many situations to default to a more primitive brain, the fact is that playing actually increases your focus. Not just the intensity of your focus but the amount that you’re able to focus on at once. So instead of laser focusing, you are focusing as the sun does on the earth. You are taking in far more stimulus at once when your’e loose and playful and you open up to more creative solutions to every problem. Playing engages you in a dynamic relationship with your environment. Living then, can become a dance.

How do you become more playful?

I said before that you should focus not on playing but on being playful. But how do you get there?

As loose as it feels to do, being playful does involve a structure. It involves either a goal, roleplaying, friendly competition, misdirection, or a combination of all of these things. Lets take the example something people do all the time to abstract the pattern that can then be applied universally.

What is the difference between running back and forth across a field repeatedly and playing ultimate frisbee? Well there’s a frisbee yes. So what is the difference between running back and forth and throwing a frisbee and playing ultimate frisbee? I find the latter far more engaging because there is a goal and rules. Being playful in conversation is very similar. When you make it like a game – how can I make this person laugh? How can we connect? How can I get them to experience positive emotions? How can I learn more about them? Now there is a goal. Now you can play in the field of conversation with the goal of getting to know them. Now it’s not about you at all. It’s about the act of playing and the quality of being playful. That is an end in itself.

Playfulness doesn’t just manifest as a game, but as a fun way of pretending your intentions are different than they are. One of the things i like to do to lighten up an interaction is to playfully misdirect someone. You may remember a time when you felt made fun of or made to feel gullible and found that negative. The difference here is your intention. The good intention to have is that you simply want to have fun. The bad intention to have is that you want to get something – particularly validation for your brilliant sense of humor or something like that. A person who feels hurt because you went too far is not going to indulge your ego.

If you can’t conceive of making this shift, you might have to first engage in playful activities in order to awaken that part of your brain again. This is always a good thing. You can’t play enough in your life. So, start playing. What do you love to do? For me it’s ultimate frisbee. Go wild, but now your opportunity is to recognize when you are playing and observe that quality independently of your activity. That quality is part of you and can be accessed at any time.

Then you can move on to engaging with people you already like to engage with in a more playful way. Ask yourself, “How can I make this interaction more playful?” “How can I playfully jab them or playfully misdirect them for humourous effect?” Playing with people is a two way street. If someone senses that you are playing, they should play back. If they don’t play back, then it’s nothing about you. Remember, society stopped encouraging everyone to have recess a long time ago.

When you do engage someone in a playful way, often times it lights them up, as it would a cat with a string. Now you’re off to the races. The content of what you’re doing doesn’t matter, but playing allows you to open up a connection with the other person that goes beyond words. This is useful in every aspect of life, from the most mundane to the most romantic. With people you know though, it’s a safe activity. You don’t have to worry about going too far. Someone you already have a lasting relationship with will forgive you. Especially if playing is not your modus operandi, people will allow you to do so since its an attractive quality. They may even, gasp, like being around you more.

The final step is to play with people you don’t know. The thing is, when people play, they usually only play with someone who has a common ground or someone they know really well. So when they do play, they assume that they must know this person really well. Playing is a way to connect with people effectively and quickly. It is used by all the best communicators as a way to not just break the ice, but to melt it.

You can then consciously access this way of being any time you want, using anchoring and NLP. If you don’t know how to do that or if you’re still too afraid, a good way to transition from playing with just your friends to everyone is to engage a playful group of people you already know in the context of a larger social situation, like a party or a bar. That way the vibe will be already playful and you’ll have backup if your invitations to play do not go as planned. As it was in the schoolyard, some people just don’t want to play.

At some point, you will realize that playing can be an entire lifestyle. It’s not just that you play, it’s that you move through the world in that mindset. I guarantee doing this alone will make a positive impact on your social life, your work, and your passions. You may find things that you used to think were drudgery taking on a different quality altogether. You may find you’re invited to more social engagements because people just love being around your kind of energy. You may find yourself less stressed out more of the time.

Or you may not. But there’s only one way to find out.

Many people have compared life to a game. If that is true, how often do you spend playing it?

What’s Missing? Playing the Happiness Game

I was journaling today starting with the question, “If I know the truth, then why doesn’t the illusion collapse immediately?” Robert Scheinfeld’s answer to this is simple – it’s not part of the Human Game to win it easily. The fun is in playing a game with challenges and discoveries. Fair enough, but I’m now in the part of the game where I must discover what has held me back – what pieces have been missing.

And after writing about what was missing, the now obvious realization came swiftly after. Ironically, the idea that something is missing, that there is something more to know, something more to be and I have only to find that thing – is one of the greatest Phase 1 illusions there is and one one of my largest eggs to process.

Step By Step

I began with the question “Why must I play Phase 1 games when I already know the mindset of Phase 2?”

After a bit of clarifying, I boiled my question down to “what’s missing?”

I had the direct experience of “A Ha, the thing I’m trying to do is the very thing that’s giving me the opportunity to progress in Phase 2.”

I felt deeply the emotion of missing something, like a part of my body or soul had vanished, and I could never have it back. I sat with this feeling for a couple of minutes, really exploring the terrible existential crisis that I’ve felt a lot throughout my life.

Then I told the truth about it. That it wasn’t real. I didn’t try to change my feeling, merely add a layer of understanding to it. This lessened the intensity a bit, but in no way suppressed it.

I began reclaiming my power. Right now it seems the major shift happens when I tell the truth and open to my infinite nature, not reclaim my power. Nevertheless I felt the judgment draining out of “this feeling is bad.” And as I did, I felt more joyful emotion beginning to come in, and I saw the emotion – this great emptiness – for the pure experience it was.

I opened up to my infinite nature, and while many times this step causes me to expand my brain beyond my personal experience to encompass oceans of cosmic light, this time the focus extended inwards and backwards along my personal timeline. Appreciation of this Phase 1 illusion came along with the expansive perspective.

The immediate understanding that came to me was that this feeling of emptiness, of a missing piece, what Lynn Grabhorn calls, “separation” is the prime driving force of my life, and what I now believe to be the engine of the Phase 1 game. It’s a negative driving force, in that many of my actions have been taken to get away from this feeling.

The Origin of a Feeling

Can you think back to a time before a feeling existed? For instance, back to before you had crushes on the opposite gender? Isn’t it weird to think that something you may be obsessed with now used to never matter? I did this to investigate the beginnings of this gaping hole in my soul.

Beginning in the present, I feel that my direct understanding of the truth and Phase 2 is missing. In one way or another, this search for the “answer” has permeated my life for the last couple of years.

Before that it was the sensation that my connection to abundance was missing – whether it be knowledge of how to make money, ability to acquire money, or straight up luck to find money.

Another huge one before that was in the dating world. I felt that a true part of myself was missing without another person. I still feel this way and must work with the process on this feeling.

It wasn’t until I got back to about third grade that the feeling ceased to be in my experience. When I was a child any negativity was temporary, and everything in life seemed to be in a state of flow. There wasn’t this feeling of hollowness.

Without going into the day-by-day of my childhood one experience after another (created by my expanded self) slowly created the illusion of this incredible lack inside me and also manifested that outside of me in ways like jealousy, inferiority, disillusionment, and poverty. At every point in the timeline it seemed like a cruel force. I was diagnosed with depression. I wondered why others didn’t understand this all encompassing feeling. I watched my friends settle for less when I would settle for nothing but the unequivocal achievement of my dreams – dreams that still have gone unrealized. But today looking back I understand the reason of the pattern. And I’m just now seeing the wide ranging implications of this feeling.



“I don’t have enough money for the things I want” Boils down to: Something’s missing. In this case resources.

“I don’t have what it takes to earn enough money.” Boils down to: Something’s missing. In this case the knowledge to “earn” money.


“I need a relationship to feel complete.” What’s missing? A relationship.

“I need to be more attractive/outgoing/skilled or have more money/status/fame or have better friends/opportunities/job/hobbies in order to have the relationship I want.” Something’s missing. This person feels they aren’t complete enough to “get” a relationship.

“He/she is better than me. I’ll never be as rich/beautiful/successful/charismatic/smart as them.” Translation: Something’s wrong with me. I.E. Something is missing. In this example, it’s an inherent or learned characteristic.


“I really should exercise more. I’d probably feel better and feel better about myself.” Boils down to: I’m not good enough as I am – something’s missing. Is it discipline? Motivation? Respect?


“I wish I could draw.” Translation: there is something other people have that I don’t have that allows them to draw and I can’t. A.K.A. Something is missing.

“I can’t figure out how to end this story/get past my creative block/design this house/get this chicken recipe right.” Is something missing? Yes.

“If only I could make money doing what I love.” Something’s missing. It could be many things – drive, enterprenurial skills, a valuable product, etc etc.


“Maybe I should move to a different town. I could start all over there.” Something is missing.


“If we’re supposed to be infinite, then why don’t I feel infinite? Why do the things I truly desire keep eluding me?” Conclusion: something is missing. Otherwise by spritual law I’d have the life that I want.

“Why don’t I feel fulfilled?” Something major is missing here.

The Happiness Game

That’s probably enough examples. What I’d like to point out is that the missing piece to every one of these confounding problems is an illusion.

Ergo, the process by which we seek to “obtain” these “missing pieces” is also an illusion.

And that means also that the very notion of not being complete just as you are, just as this moment is, is too an illusion. Sit with that a moment. Ok, even if you just had a profound paradigm shift, money is most likely not raining from the sky just yet. Of course not. If you identify with any of these examples or extrapolated some of your own, then you know that this is a huge huge huge egg. What is an egg? Belief + Power + Judgement + Consequences. Think of the consequences of any of these beliefs. For me I’ve always been searching for the “one” and I’ve moved over twenty times just to avoid that feeling of lack, as well as taking drugs, watching TV,  and graduating college as quickly as possible in order to feel “special.” I’m fully convinced that most of my greatest life decisions – where to go to school, who to date, what area to study, what jobs to take – were predicated on avoiding the feeling of cosmic emptiness.

So the power can be reclaimed not just from the feeling itself,(though I invite you to really dive into it once you have a handle on the process) but every choice you’ve made that was informed by the feeling. Every “consequence” And every time you judged each consequence as “good” or “bad” This is a motherload of an egg stash.

What I invite you to contemplate along with this information is that this was an incredible Phase 1 trick, similar to the Money Game. But this is a bigger game in scope than that. It’s the Happiness Game. The Happiness game holds all the power of your hopes, dreams, fears, and nightmares. In your own time, explore each one and realize its truth. They are all illusions, and you came here to experience them first as real, then as the truth.

This feeling, the “splinter in your mind” as Morpheus says in The Matrix, began in perfect time with your process of moving deeply into Phase 1 so that you could begin to move into Phase 2. The sensation that there is something more to life than what you see is the beginning of your journey home. It’s the call to action in your hero’s journey. And this is not to belittle the depths of sadness you may have felt that may have led you to look for “the answer”. But whatever path led you here was perfect for you, and if you’ve had an inkling or an ocean of this feeling – count yourself lucky. There is vast power there.