The other day I posted a heart-felt sentiment on Facebook. I think, in the history of my Face-Life, I have never gotten so many “likes.” My friend and student, Martine, encouraged me to write it up as a longer blog post.
I think it spoke to what many of us feel whilst scanning the Facebook “I’m super happy, tan, at-the-beach, cuddling-with-my-puppy/baby/ferret, engaged, pregnant, skinny, surrounded-by-beautiful-women, look-at-my-food-porn” created reality of our “friends.”
And trust me – I’m not immune to this reality manipulation as well. Id MUCH rather show all my friends/fans/students/family the “somtimes-moments” of me dancing Natarajasana on a mountain in my spandex-encased, J-lo-esque bootie than the other “sometimes-moments” of my life where I have eaten too much, am laying on the floor, bloated and crying, my mother praying over me for Jesus to help her poor food-compulsed daughter to lay off the chocolate chip cookies and gouda.
Don’t act shocked by what I just wrote. You know you have a dark side-compulsive thing you do (drink wine out of a water bottle at your kids playground? watch porn instead of being truly intimate with your wife? go to Cross-fit like a maniac? stay at the office to avoid your media-juiced kids?). But you aren’t posting that shit to the web. Of course not.
But I digress. So, let’s go back to the back story that inspired me to really NEVER believe the hype that says that someone else’s happiness reduces my own.
I learned that amazing truth from a teacher years back. This great teacher told us a story about how long, long ago, he felt jealous of someone who is now a very famous author and spiritual teacher (ok, lets just say it was Deepak Chopra). Every time he heard Deepak’s name it would feel like a thorn in his side. And you may remember that there was a time when Deepak was everywhere (especially everywhere in Los Angeles).
But being a good Tantric practitioner, instead of silently rebuking good ole’ Deepak, my teacher began to ask the question we should all ask when we feel the pangs of jealousy. “What is it about this person that is reflecting some unfulfilled longing in ME?” He realized that he himself wanted to be showing up in the world more, reaching more people, writing books, and fulfilling his own deepest purpose. As soon as he began to realize these things internally and tangibly, the silent Deepak-hating completely went away. Completely. Now, did Deepak change? Nope, not one bit. In fact, Deepak continues to become more famous and successful and tan and kind of wonderfully weird. And good for him.
You see, there is zero relationship between what other people are attaining and what you are NOT attaining. We live a lie whereby we feel we must compete for the good stuff. There is only so much money. So many resources. So much love. So many yoga students. So many opportunities.
But the truth of the matter is (and this is what Tantra teaches), your INTERNAL state dictates your happiness. If you are annoyed by someone’s success (or anything about someone else really), you gotta look it in the face and say, “Hello Guru, what can you teach me?”
I have been committed to the path of “there is no competition” for years. The commitment to using the “pangs” of negative emotion (jealousy, anger, fear, sadness) as teachers has been the toughest and most fruitful journey of my life. But slowly, I can see the way this path begets FREEDOM. I am the creator of my own happiness. And when I see YOUR insanely-edible baby, your amazing new hairstyle, your crazy-bendy yoga body, your food-porn, your hunky, flannel-wearing, lumber-jack-bearded-husband, your amazing way with words, your crazy-gorgeous engagement ring, your new book, you covered in snakes with zero-cellulite in your tight white yoga pants, your sky-diving abilities, your commitment to changing the world, your Cross-fit body, or any other attainment on your horizon, I am overcome with joy. Just joy. Anything else is just fuel for my own burning.
Pass it on.