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Transition to Authentic Happiness – Stage Four
At 20 something it is easy to be optimistic and have lots of positive thoughts about our self and the future. We confidently believe what we were told at graduation commencement. There is limitless potential, the world is our oyster, and we can do and be anything we set our mind to. We have no reason not to believe this as we have heard and seen success stories of others, and we have not experienced failure or great pain.
Life is different for the 30, 40, and 50 something’s. Not everyone is living out the script they would have written for themselves. Their career had lay offs, missed promotions, and financial market meltdowns. Their relationships had struggles, broken hearts, and perhaps divorces. At that stage most people do not have the financial independence they hoped for and their nest egg is paltry. The positive and hopeful internal dialog of the 20 something has hit the reality that the world is not an oyster. Their schooling did not prepare them about relationships, emotions, money management, or how to get rid of negative thinking.
At this point something doesn’t add up or seem right with the world. In actuality, the disparity is that the assumptions, beliefs and emotional patterns we were conditioned with as a child don’t work very well as an adult world of relationships and responsibilities. Our natural expressions of love and being happy has been drowned out. We are reacting strongly to thoughts from our past, even when those thoughts are not based in reality. We live in worry and fear of what others think. We might even notice the beliefs running our behaviors, decisions, and emotions that we learned when we were 8, are not good paradigms for making a decision as an adult. Consciously, or unconsciously we figure out that the problem is not the world, or our self. More specifically, the problem is that the script of expectations we have been trying to live by is faulty. Instead of trying to change our selves, other people, and the world to fit our script of expectations, we begin to rewrite the script. We begin to change the core beliefs and emotional patterns we were socialized with and automated to follow. We seek a simpler, more authentic expression of emotions we experienced in the earlier stages of our life.
A typical age for this shift is around 30, but it can be taken on by the 18 year old, as well as the 68 year old.
At this stage we engage in a kind of rebellion. It is similar to the rebellion we had as a teenager because it is against socialized beliefs and behaviors. One difference is that we aren’t rebelling against what another person says. We don’t have parents telling us what to do anymore. We are rebelling against what our mind is repeatedly telling us. It also differs because it is a conscious and aware rebellion. It can’t be reactive and impulsive and still be effective. Our mind is already reactive and impulsive and this is part of the problem in our emotions that we can’t afford to continue. The third difference, is that much of what our mind offers us is useful, helpful, and necessary so we need to keep that part intact while we do away with the judgmental negative thoughts holding back our natural expression of love based emotions.
The format of this transition may take on many forms. A person may take up meditation, yoga, read self help books, practices in mindfulness, all in an effort to get rid of negative thoughts and change core beliefs. They might be more bold and go on silent meditation retreats, or with shamans, and spiritual teachers. To someone standing on the outside, these behaviors can look like confusing nonsense and might be described as crazy. Even the person themselves will have thoughts that characterize such doings as “crazy.” However, the belief system generating such thoughts, has the agenda to get us to live according to the script people gave us when we were 8 years old about what it is to be a “good girl” or “good boy.” Truth be told, trying to live according to someone else’s conditioning given to you when you were 8 years old so you could feel like a “good girl” or “good boy,” is actually the more crazy thing to do when you are an adult.
The person entering Stage 4 of their path to happiness is typically unhappy and rebellious. They are either angry and ready for a fight, exhausted from trying to live by all their old scripts, or depressed that all their attempts at conditional success didn’t work. If they are successful in their path, these emotions begin to fade, and they find moments of acceptance, peace, gratitude, forgiveness, and love. In the beginning, these moments and feelings might happen for a few seconds or minutes at first. As their path continues they can sustain them for longer, and with more practice, draw themselves to those emotional expressions at will. Sometimes they feel really good, and sometimes they still feel bad because they shift back into their conditioned beliefs at times. During Stage 4 a person will spend more and more time at a stage 5 of happiness, and less and less in emotional suffering they experienced at the end of stage 3.
It is this transition from conditional emotional responses to authentic happiness that my Self Mastery course material, and most of my work addresses.1