This one’s for you if you want to be more consistently happy, at peace with your thoughts and in control of your emotions.
Have you ever realised how much sensory information you ignore in a day? How many different smells you don’t even notice? How often you throw your food down your gullet while you think of the million and one other things you need to do? Do you let what other people say dominate your thoughts for 5, 10, 15 minutes, or even the rest of the day? Do you notice how you stand up tall and walk with a spring in your step when the sun is out but hunch your shoulders and look down at the ground when it’s raining? Are you aware of the voice inside your head, and how it dominates your thought processes like a dogmatic dictator? No? Well you soon will be!
I imagine that the difference between a good self help book and a great one is how easy it is to incorporate the changes into your life. Well by that benchmark this one is AMAZING. It is genuinely LIFE CHANGING.
We all know (or think we know) that we should live “in the moment”, that we should appreciate how precious life is, that we shouldn’t worry about things outside of our control, but the truth is that many of us do. So how do you change that? Read this book! But in the meantime, read its most powerful messages:
- Unconditional happiness. The book helps you to realise you have control over your happiness*. You let stupid things like a late bus, a traffic jam, tesco being out of stock of something you need, the lack of a reply to your text bring you down. Learn to ask yourself, do I really want to let my happiness to be conditional on this? No? So….
- Open your heart and let it go. Why would you let something hang over you? Does it actually matter?
- Appreciation that your breath is your oldest, most loyal and most supportive friend. It is LITERALLY always there for you. A deep breath has the power to help you get control of your nerves, slow your heart rate, help digestion and improve your circulation. So be aware of the times you stop breathing deeply, and turn to your breath when you feel unsettled.
*Without going into a full discussion of free will and its limitations, I want to touch on the fact that it would be incredibly damaging to assume that happiness is something that everybody can control. The sad truth is that that is clearly not the case. You don’t need to have experienced mental health problems for yourself to be able to appreciate that. I think the value of Singer’s idea of unconditional happiness is as a tool to change your thought process around how emotionally involved you can become in events that really don’t matter.
This is as close as I think I will ever get to the relationship of a Christian with the Bible, a Jew with the Torah, a Muslim with the Quran and so on. A book that grounds me, that gives advice for any and all situations. A book that I want to go out and tell the world about because I genuinely believe its message is universal. A book that has changed my thought process in a way that has quickly and vastly improved my life. I am kinder to people, my mood is more constant, I actually taste my food, I am more patient and I don’t let the little things drag me down so much. So thank you, Michael Singer, for clearing out my head of all its junk, and giving me the tools to keep it clean. (I now imagine my mind to be the brain equivalent of a simple, tidy, neutral scandi chic living room).
“you are not the voice of the mind- you are the one who hears it.” p10
“to attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them.” p16
“You don’t fight the mind. In fact, you don’t even try to change it. You just make a game out of relaxing in the face of its melodrama.” p66
“No matter what it is, let it go. The bigger it is, the higher the reward of letting go and the worse the fall if you don’t. It’s pretty black-and-white. You either let go or you don’t. There really isn’t anything in between.” p79
“you don’t want the weakest part of you running your life. You want to be free of this. you want to talk to people because you find them interesting, not because you’re lonely. You want to have relationships with people because you genuinely like them, not because you need for them to like you. You want to love because you truly love, not because you need to avoid your inner problems.” p85
“when your mind starts telling you what you have to do to make everything inside okay, don’t buy into what it’s telling you. The truth is, everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything.” p95
“It’s not that your mind has to be quiet. You be quiet. You, the one inside watching the neurotic mind, just relax. You will then naturally fall behind the mind because you have always been there. You are not the thinking mind; you are aware of the thinking mind.” p95
“Most people can hardly imagine what it would be like to be at peace with inner disturbance. But if you do not learn to be comfortable with it, you will devote your life to avoiding it.” p103
“the events that happen in the moment belong to the moment. They don’t belong to you. They have nothing to do with you. You must stop defining yourself in relationship to them, and just let them come and go.” p134
“you’re generally using your will to resist one of two things: that which has already happened or that which hasn’t happened yet. You are sitting inside resisting impressions from the past or thoughts about the future. Think of how much energy is wasted resisting what has already happened.” p151
“Even if something terrible happens, view it as just another experience of life. Death has made you a great promise in which you can find deep peace. The promise is that all things are temporal; they are all just passing through time and space. If you have patience, this too will pass.” p163
“Don’t you understand that every minute you’re a step closer to death? This is how to live your life. You live it as though you were on the verge of death, because you are.” p164