Awareness Games has now been published in both paperback and Kindle editions, and the response from readers has been overwhelmingly lovely. I’ll share some of these responses at the end of this blog entry, but first, I’d like to talk about happiness.
In the book, I talk about that “happy for no reason” feeling that the games are designed to achieve. Yes, that feeling is available at the drop of a hat, with a little practice. But is it really a feeling? And do we need to figure out a way to feel this way all the time? Do we need to try to exclude all other feelings from our experience, particularly the so-called negative emotions like fear, loneliness, anger, anxiety, shame, and sadness? I don’t think we do.
It’s a paradox, but I discovered that a sure-fire way of failing to generate this happy feeling is to try to bring it about when I’m feeling otherwise. In fact, when I play an Awareness Game and fail to feel “better,” in every case, without exception, the reason is one of two things: I’m trying to create a desired feeling or I’m trying to stop feeling an undesired emotion.
As soon as I realize this, and stop trying to change how I’m feeling right now, but instead, drop my attention to the background awareness in which the feeling is appearing, I instantly get that “happy for no reason” feeling, even if I’m still feeling bad. In fact, for me, it’s absolutely essential to drop all internal clutching against a negative feeling and not only completely allow it to be here, but even dive into it and allow myself to feel it fully. Being the background awareness at the same time helps to do this. Noticing what else appears in awareness right now helps to do this. Relaxing physically helps to do this. I find I can be happy while I’m sad, angry, anxious. That’s the glorious paradox.
Why? Because the background awareness already allows every feeling to be here. It doesn’t discriminate between good feelings and bad, between happy and sad events. It simply notices everything without judgement. This is unconditional love, and it’s already happening in some part of you right now, all the time. All you have to do is notice it. And unconditional love is happiness, and happiness is our true nature already. Not something we have to bring about, but simply something we have to notice.
So happiness is not something we get from the outside world, and not something that requires the absence of negative emotions or events. It’s simply our true nature as the screen or white board on which all experience appears.
Have your feelings. Have them fully. Notice what is aware of them. Be that awareness.
Now, as promised, here are some lovely quotes in response to the book:
“What a fabulous book! I love the exercises, the tone, and the whole orientation of it. What a great idea and great implementation. Congrats!
“I envy the bookseller charged with categorizing this dazzling, completely original book. It deserves a spot in philosophy, self-help, psychology, religion, and any genre devoted to enriching self-knowledge while at the same time imagining how we might live more joyfully. In playful, lucid prose, this book animates a new approach to experience -- based in play, rather than analysis -- that enables the reader to cultivate new habits of mind. Plus, the games are fun to play. They're simple, and often ingenious.
Great books occupy a genre of one. Awareness Games is among them.”
“I love your book. I played two of the games on the subway, pages 53 and 52, and they opened me and made me smile. Since then I've done more. What a great bunch of so many fun tools to use.”
“My book arrived last night (I like a hard copy in my hand, maybe it's a guy thing) and, huzzah, am I pleased.
“It is really a very big little book. By big I mean important, and by important I mean, important to you, for this book takes the reader on a different view, an inward journey, based on a true story; and by little I mean nothing of the sort, as the nearly 100 'games' within can equal nearly 100 mountains to climb. Or not. It's up to you. But I bet you can't read just one. Recommended for writers, mimes, singers, Walden Pond stone-skippers, hand-models and all who consider living an art form, as delving into the delight of your essential being is a universal necessity to be appreciated.
“If Socrates thought the unexamined life was not worth living, then surely he'd advise us to buy Awareness Games. In a continually tumultuous world, I will be buying additional copies of Awareness Games to feed the souls of the phenomena I call my children (at least the intelligent ones.)”
“It's fun to read and really easy to play. I particularly love the Clutch gobbler; it's like imaging there is a Pac Man inside me eating up all the pent up feelings.”
“Looks like you are doing a world of good with your craft, skills and insight.”
“I just bought 5 copies - I think my faculty colleagues may enjoy a copy.”
“How wonderful it is that you were able to use personal experiences and share with the world about how to find and be happy in this crazy hectic modern world.”
“Great book. It discusses mind setting and ways to increase happiness feelings as other books may do, but this book provides new fresh ways to achieve it.”
“Looks like all of your seeking has brought about something original. Thank you.”
“You are a true inspiration.”
Thank you, All!!!