How To Be Happy At The End Of The World
How To Be Happy At The End Of The World
#1 How To Be Happy At The End Of The World

#1 How To Be Happy At The End Of The World

A New Series where we explore, well... how to be happy at the end of the world ;)

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately talking with activists and changemakers about the future of the environmental movement and one thing that keeps coming up again and again is spirituality.

I think it is because the heaviness of the current existential situation causes us to suffer internally.

And while it is important to take action in the world, we often forget that it all starts inside us in our thoughts and emotional lives.

So now, more than ever, I’m looking for ways to be happy, even at the end of the world.

The first way I want to share is a mix of two things: compassion and forgiveness.

More and more I’m ascribing to a theory of change that suggests that personal change is fundamental to social change so focusing on things like this isn’t just about my own happiness but actually bringing about change in the world around me too.

The idea is that our internal world and our societies are nested systems, fractal even.

Each consciousness within a collective consciousness that is feeling and perceiving the same things, just from different viewpoints. All interconnected and interdependent.

And behind all of us as individuals is the same awareness and this awareness, once rid of all the ego and baked on layers of bullshit over a lifetime of seeing the world in a certain way, is itself pure peace. No one gives you peace, you already have them, you just don’t always experience them in the same way that the sun is always shining, it’s just that the clouds get in the way.

Spirituality, Eastern traditions and indigenous cultures show us this too.

They teach us that peace is here the whole time, we’re just not seeing it. Which is refreshing in such a fraught and tense world.

Perhaps the miracle we need is really an awakening, a more conscious awareness of all the bullshit and a rediscovering of the peace that is always here.

A mass transformation from fear to love. From separation to connectedness. That starts within each of us and spreads to all we come into contact with.

Especially with our enemies, those we argue with, those who seek to double down on business as usual just as we seek to abandon it.

Spiritual traditions would urge us to see that our ‘enemies’ are not evil, they are simply blind to love - and that instead of fighting them or making demands of them, we need to show them how blind they are to love by showing them and ourselves compassion and forgiveness.

Like me, your immediate reaction might be to recoil from this but I’ve persisted with it recently and given it a chance.

I’ve spent a lot of time sitting with this idea, as uncomfortable as it is and stayed with it to see if I can find something in it that makes sense.

So here goes…

Our enemies are no different from us, they are simply perceiving the world through very different lenses and filters of past experiences, thoughts, beliefs and identities.

All of which are socially constructed and open to change but only when we become aware of them and engage in their construction.

Most of us, but especially our enemies, do not do this. They and we operate out of unconscious thoughts and beliefs more often than not. In truth, probably about 99% of the time.

When we judge our enemies we reinforce and agree with their misperceptions - but the point is to call out the misperception instead, which first requires empathy and compassion.

When we persist in our judgment of others, with our anger, fear and hate, we undermine ourselves in the process.

Take for example, the loathing of the state to the extent that many of us feel compelled to make demands of them to stop doing what they’re doing.

Demanding things from bad guy governments actually puts us into a state of victimhood and serves to perpetuate the illusion that they have power over us that is greater than our combined power. We give away our power to them by saying “if only they would do this then everything would be fine” as our satisfaction then becomes contingent on their action or lack of it.

This gives them power over us as we place ourselves at their mercy. So maybe there is something to be said for not going down this route and instead finding new ways of seeing things.

So, back to compassion and forgiveness with another question: How do we call out the misperceptions in our enemies without fighting them?

Compassion and forgiveness.

Us seeing the good in them opens the door to them seeing it in themselves and this is what is most needed of all.

Contrary to what you may feel when looking at oil companies at the moment, there is no evil in the world, only insanity, ignorance and misperception.

If, like them, we can’t see truth we have no choice but to accept illusion.

Put another way, our oil exec enemies can’t see the truth and instead are glad to accept the illusions their egos have spun up for them to keep them happy doing what they’re doing.

They see what their lives have shown them and what their peers have shown them. Just like us. And they’ve found stories to tell themselves that make everything alright.

It’s just that their lives look very different to ours. And their stories sound nothing like ours.

Everything I am saying is also a story that I’m spinning up too. This is all conjecture but stay with me for a while as I imagine what the stories of others might look like as I try to appreciate a different point of view, one where it makes sense to burn as much oil as possible…

What if I had gone to boarding school from the age of 5 and been raised by staff at private school, seeing my family in the holidays in luxurious surroundings at every opportunity, surrounded by people and things of huge wealth, with the acceptance and full belief in a way of life that has rewarded them like no other, the ultimate positive reinforcement.

Elite universities, sat side by side with Duchesses and future presidents. Opulence, decadence and luxury, the continual comparison of wealth and material success with others, the incessant yearning for external validation in the material world. Years spent working horrendous hours, fortunes amassed. A mechanistic worldview completely ignorant of the web of life.

A deep belief in our separation as a natural consequence of a life spent in spaces impeccably sculpted by humans to be devoid of anything wild. A growing sense of foreboding as I grow older and older, always chasing satisfaction and never finding it, even with all the material goods in the world I’m still left with an empty feeling inside that I cannot name. The result of a severed connection to a living planet and the cold embrace of a meaningless universe. The product of a childhood without the warmth of my mother when I needed her most aged 5, struggling to sleep in a shared dorm and the cold judgment of a father who never knew how to love me because that was left to my Nanny. Feeling empty but full of enjoyment of the chase of success I keep going, it’s all I’ve known and it makes me feel powerful and better than others, which gives meaning to this otherwise meaningless endeavour. Every month I’m judged on my numbers being bigger than the month before and I’m scared of what might if they’re not. I have to keep going and now that I can start to se how messed up this all is, secretly, I’m working even harder to make as much money as I can so I can cash out and protect my kids. Others may have to starve but not us, the more I keep going, the more money I can make the better able I am to protect the ones I love from what’s coming. I need more power, I need more money, I need more security, safety and strength.

From that perspective, I don’t hit the brakes, I hit the gas as I subconsciously ask myself “what has this all been for?” I did as I was told. I did everything right. I suffered to make this happen. And so I no longer see anything that might stop me because I’m not looking for it, I’m avoiding it like the plague. My ego mind is working overtime to protect me from seeing anything like it. Which is why I am so offended when I’m shown it by people gluing themselves to my building. They terrify me. They are a huge threat and need to be locked away.

Now all those thoughts, that whole story isn’t true.

It’s all just stories.

Perhaps oil execs tell themselves stories like that in their minds, perhaps they don’t.

But whatever stories they are telling themselves, the stories are the reason they act as they do.

It’s all because of the stories. Because of the ego.

Maybe there is something to this spirituality stuff after all and compassion is actually quite useful to understanding the world.

But what of forgiveness?

Ego sees a world of evil, fear and separation while non-thinking awareness sees mystery, beauty and love.

The distinction between ego and awareness is a tricky one but it’s crucial, so try this…

Ask yourself: “What am I more: the voice in my head or the thing that hears it?”

This is the difference between ego and awareness. Your ego is the voice, your true nature is the bit that hears it. When you quieten the mind, you’re left with pure awareness, that’s always there, that’s the real you. It’s the exact same thing in me when I quieten my mind and it’s in every living thing. It’s pure consciousness.

It’s all any of us really are and it’s what makes us all one.

What my recent readings in spirituality have shown me, is that more than ever, we need to rediscover our humility and recognise that the world is utterly mysterious, beautiful and complex beyond our comprehension.

We’ve just lost our way and forgotten. We’ve been wrapped up in the ego and it has served us well, too well. It now threatens our very existence.

We still need to use our ego minds and the words and numbers it likes to play with so much to make sense of the world but we must always remember that these understandings are only ever attempts at understanding, mere perceptions that we inherit from one generation to the next about what is true and what seems to work but it is never complete knowledge.

When we act as if we have full knowledge and believe ourselves without question, our world will eventually collapse because it is built on distortions, ignorance and misperception.

Just look at the news. This is what we are living through right now.

This is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness for ourselves and others that we have been so blind, so misguided and so unaware. If we couldn’t see the truth, we had no choice but to accept illusions.

We need to remind ourselves that the true nature of reality is beyond comprehension.

Even the size of it is beyond our comprehension - trillions of planets orbiting billions and billions of stars inside billions and billions of galaxies in an ever expanding universe.

Consciousness erupting from inside each and every one of you so that the larger whole can know itself, hear itself, see itself and love itself through you.

This also means that if we can’t accept others, it means we can’t accept out true selves because they are us and we are them, just looking out through different eyes.

True self-acceptance requires acceptance of everyone else too - it requires compassion and forgiveness.

So, one way to be happy at the end of the world is to find the joy of self-acceptance that is hiding in plain sight behind compassion and forgiveness for everyone - yourself, your friends, your family, and yes, even insane oil executives hell-bent on destroying the world.

After all, persisting in the judgment of others as evil merely serves to keep us from the love and peace we are so inspired by in the first place and which is right here, right now and always has been, waiting for us to find it again.

Getting angry at the world and others in it, is the same as drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Instead, let go, forgive, love and set yourself free.

It might just change the world.



How To Be Happy At The End Of The World
How To Be Happy At The End Of The World
Join me on a journey of self-discovery, awakening and reconnection as I learn How To Be Happy At The End Of The World.