For some time I’ve struggled to feel any sort of happiness or delight. I don’t have any memories of being happy. Nor can I visualize happiness. How can I work on feeling happy in the present moment?
It might be useful to differentiate delighting from feeling good. Feeling good being the baseline from which delighting can commence.
Whenever I have tried to delight as something that the ‘doer’ tries to accomplish through force I find that it is tainted and more or less I am kidding myself.
When I am already feeling good and there begins to be a loosening of controls, that’s when delighting can be done in a way that is clean.
So perhaps focusing on getting to a baseline of feeling good is the most productive first step.
Although I wonder if anyone else is able to kick start delighting immediately from say feeling neutral, and then using that to move into feeling good? In my experience that doesn’t tend to work.
Sorry I just noticed that you were asking about delighting or feeling happiness. I seem to have latched onto the delighting part
Do you experience an exactly constant level of not-happiness, or is this level varying from sometimes it’s worse, sometimes it’s better (even if not reaching to the level of ‘happy’)?
It ranges from feeling bad to feeling neutral
So what you can do is , while feeling neutral, see when and where it dips to feeling bad - and use the techniques that facilitate the actualism method (feeling good), apply them to get back to neutral
Once you see it works that will be you feel bad less and neutral more
One fine day or afternoon you’ll find yourself feeling good for no particular reason. Then you just need to be on the lookout for if and when that dips to neutral or bad — and apply the tools right then and there
From that thin edge of the wedge you can get back to feeling good and start to habituate that
Separately you don’t need to wait to feel good, try doing something fun or socializing and you may find yourself in a good mood already
My 2 cents
Richard’s advise was to do whatever it takes to activate delight…there are no rules as such - other than being sensibly within the legal and social protocols…Having a keen sense of humor is also another thing Richard mentioned.
Looking at funny memes generally works well for me…I find that it can also take a conscious intent to want to be delighted…as-in delight may not just drop into my lap if I don’t consciously choose that !
I’ve been thinking about this the past day, this thing of how to get feeling good going in the first place. It seems that’s the trickiest thing for most people attempting the method.
What I can observe in myself is that it seems somehow counter intuitive to just feel good, the simplicity of it seems like it could never work.
I can see in myself that I am habituated to operating in a way where I always look for reasons to feel this or that way, like I am being acted upon by an outside force.
This seems like the default way of operating within the realty world… things go well and I get to have good feelings, things go wrong and I feel bad.
So somehow I take that same approach into the attempt to apply the method, I start to look for reasons why feeling good should/shouldn’t happen.
When it doesn’t happen I am now on a mission to ‘investigate’. So I enter that whole arena of different narratives to come up with a reason for why I should indeed feel felicitous and innocuous.
And all this activity does not work, and actually it is not required, it’s like taking this huge zig zag to arrive at something that can be done immediately, without any ‘good reason’.
The bottom line seems that I choose to feel good because it feels good to feel good haha, in the most naive way this instruction could be taken.
I remember a few years ago I was out clubbing with my friends and my girlfriend at the time. There was some sort of an issue between me and my ex which surfaced that night and we were well on the way towards an argument and spoiling the vibe for the rest of the group.
My friend noticed this thing between us, but being in a good mood himself he was intent on not letting us ‘go there’.
He picked up my ex and ran off with her on his shoulder, when he came back he essentially coerced us into feeing good
I had my dear reasons to feel bad and to even attempt to enjoy myself seemed like a betrayal, it felt ‘wrong’, but nevertheless I decided not to be a party pooper and give it a go.
And funnily enough it worked! Before I knew it we were indeed having a great time, crisis averted.
It seems exactly the same with applying the method - Right now, without any need for ‘good reasons’ and even though it may feel counter-intuitive, can I stop being a party pooper and feel good? (To whatever degree I can allow).
[Richard]: ‘To get out of ‘stuckness’ one gets off one’s backside and does whatever one knows best to activate delight.
Hi @Pman, I have a personal experience that may be helpful. A few weeks ago I was at the beach with my girlfriend, feeling withdrawn and low energy. Eventually I got hot and went into the water which was cold, but here’s where delight was activated. It was chilling and a uncomfortable at first but if you focus on the exhilarating side then it’s quite exciting. I was having fun, got out of my head, and no longer did I feel stuck in that withdrawn state that I couldn’t think my way out of. From this position of delight I was able to grab hold of feeling good and enjoy the rest of the time at the beach, as well as get back to maintaining the baseline.
The delight is just meant as a “kick-starter.” So if there are things you enjoy doing that can activate it, then you could look there.
The first sentence of above paragraph is specifically designed to get one out of ‘stuckness’ … it is not intended as an on-going way of living life. It is a short, sharp shock of attention – a ‘kick-start’ in the jargon – to counteract the ‘I didn’t ask to be born’ resentment that caused the stuckness in the first place.
So as you can see, the delight is just a temporary emotional wake-up call meant to propel you into a more innocuous and felicitous state - but it’s not something you are necessarily expected to maintain forever (the delight), or manifest out of thin air. You do something (get off one’s backside), delight is activated, and use HAIETMOBA to maintain the feeling goodness & notice where you go off track next.
If you don’t find many things enjoyable, you may have to start with being a good friend to yourself and giving yourself permission to enjoy things and have fun. That’d be a worthy area to explore and it may take some effort to break out of old habits. Also - - appreciate the innocuity of being neutral, and enjoy just relaxing there not forcing yourself to try to feel better. Feeling in a rush to get somewhere else will only exacerbate things.
Another ‘wake-up jab’ (which makes use of any remnant of pride) is to ask oneself: ‘I have two choices right now: being happy and harmless or being dull and degenerate … which way do I sensibly choose to spend this never-to-be-repeated precious moment of living so that I can honestly call myself a mature adult?
Great post @edzd, I’ve been contrasting what you wrote (and also what Richard recommends in those writings) with what I wrote in my first post in this thread (which has been my approach) and I can see I’ve been doing it back to front!
I can see this aspect of my personality now, whenever I have read anyone’s advice that reflected this simplicity of the method (Geoffrey also mentions this in the zoom video, that eventually you can come to see that all you have to do is feel good) I’ve kind of shut it down as some kind of ‘positive thinking’ approach. Fundamental to this bias I had was the belief that I am a slave to my emotions, that any attempt to feel good is a form of kidding myself. This can easily become a self fulfilling prophecy where I can ‘prove to myself’ time and time again that I really can’t choose to feel otherwise lol.
And so the way I have been approaching it reminds me of something like cognitive behavioural therapy, where I am re-writing my narratives with ones that facilitate feeling good. And then once again feeling good happens outside of my control, as a result of the new narrative. I dig around long enough to try to convince myself that yes I can feel good, or that I can delight.
What Srinath writes in the simple actualism page also comes to mind - that the intent to feel good does most of the heavy lifting, and investigation becomes a subsidiary practice of sorts (for the complex and recurring issues).
I remember I was always like this even as a kid, that once I had decided to feel bad I was set on this course of action, I would hold these feelings so dearly that I just would not allow any change. But the fact is that I was remaining in feeling bad only due to my unwillingness to move away, not because of any need for an ‘outside force’.
In fact I can recall these kinds of experiences of feeing bad as a little kid and my dad poking and prodding me to make me laugh, I really didn’t like this because I could feel a little happy smirk coming along and I knew that the facade was about to break and I did not want to concede defeat!
I can see how this eventually gets cemented deeply enough and also cunningly reinforced by various structures of being a ‘mature adult’ which can lead to a belief that it is truly not up to me how I experience this moment of being alive.
And it makes sense now why so many people failed with the method, because it is not a technique that does it for me, at the end of the day I am the only one that can decide to feel good. I can memorise the AFT and still fail to do the 1 thing that counts.
And so this challenge to commit to feeling good each moment again for the rest of my life is now taking on a whole different look haha
I can see that all the reasons I had for why it’s so difficult were exactly of this nature, they are part of a huge web of lies I tell myself, centered around the belief that it is all to do with something outside of myself.
No wonder even the actually free guys can’t do it for us! Because the choice is sitting right here in my lap the whole time
It’s incredible actually because the past couple of months I have been in this weird ‘meh’ plateau. Right now it’s like this pin was pulled out and all this new affective energy is flowing freely, like a dam has burst.
Thank you all for your replies. I will try to apply the amazing advice that’s been given