“Do not allow evil into your heart; it will make a home there”
(Death On the Nile)
“If you’re not outraged, then you’re just not paying attention.”
“Freedom… from all the blinking machines, streaming videos,
and scrolling headlines that leave people feeling empty and too
full, all at once.”
(The Joy of Quiet)
In my line of work people generally don’t come to speak with me when they are happy. It’s when they are confused by the feelings within their heart, or being consumed by anger or when they are “feeling empty and too full, all at once.” Bookstores filled with self-help books prove to be of little help. Some find it easier to continue being unhappy rather than try to find out what happiness is and how to be it. We live in a world with more and more knowledge but which seems to leave us with less and less understanding. We can recite formulas and multitudinous facts yet our hearts are a chaotic mystery to us. Many feel like an exile.
It is true that the heart is a mystery but not one to be “solved.” It is a mystery to be lived with and not run from. Spend 20 minutes each day being unplugged. Disconnect the phone, the computer, things that beep and wheeze and whine… and just sit. Sit and let yourself not be distracted from being aware of whatever you feel. If what you feel makes you anxious or angry then deliberately slow your breathing, which will in turn slow your pulse, which will then help in not being swamped by those feelings.
Twenty minutes of not being distracted from yourself. You may not like what you come to realize that you feel, and yet at the same time there also grows a feeling of being in possession of yourself as if some essential circuit had been completed. What to do about what you feel is for another time and with the aid of a mentor. But for now twenty minutes of sitting with yourself is sufficient. It is the beginning of happiness.