“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside you.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
“People tell you the world looks a certain way. Parents tell you how to think. Schools tell you how to think. TV. Religion. And then at a certain point, if you’re lucky, you realize you can make up your own mind. Nobody sets the rules but you. You can design your own life.”
– Carrie-Anne Moss
The fate of an entire planet (and that of The Rebellion) depends on him. His job is to successfully hit the giant nuclear reactor, which lies at the heart of the Death Star. He must do this by flying into a narrow trench at the centre of the structure and firing torpedoes in through the small exhaust openings. A squadron of TIE fighters led by Darth Vader is on his tail and he has mere seconds in which to act. What does young Luke Skywalker do? He switches off the targeting computer. Of course.
Nine out of ten people would conclude that the boy is a muppet. Obi Wan Kenobi is dead. Everyone knows that right? The only thing more disturbing than hearing voices in your head is when you actually start to listen to them (and turn off your targeting computer). Right? But guess what? Luke’s crazy actions save the day. He scores a direct hit on the reactor and the Death Star is destroyed. Partying on an intergalactic level ensues.
Have you ever wondered what separates Luke Skywalker from say, the humble stormtrooper? What is the secret ingredient that sets him apart and makes him so special? What is that rare quality which all of our heroes seem to possess? Well, I have. And I think I have found my answer – It is what I call the “Inner Light”. It’s there in all of us; making us all potential heroes in the ‘movies’ that we call our lives. But it is up to us to choose which role we want to play. Do we want to play the role of the stormtrooper and be just one amongst the many thousands of those who all look and act the same? Or do we choose to stand out in our uniqueness and shine so brightly that entire galaxies come to feel the effects of our presence?
“So what is this Inner light?” you ask. That’s a tough one, but I’ll give it a shot. For starters, I believe it is everything that the ego mind is not. It is everything about us besides the part that is preoccupied with mere survival. It is the part of us that wants to have fun and live freely. It is our true spirit and expresses itself through our feelings and in the form of things like courage, vulnerability, passion, creativity, inspiration, playfulness, generosity, forbearance, intuition, emotion, unity-consciousness and compassion. Above all of this, it is love – love for oneself, love for others, a love of life and love for this beautiful world of ours. Our Inner Light is our Divine Nature – it is the spark of the Divine that resides within each of us.
“And what does this Inner Light have to do with happiness?” you ask. And I say “Everything!”. The way I have come to see it, our Inner Light is actually happiness itself!! Let me explain – when looking back at my life, I find that I can break it up into three different stages:
The first was my early childhood – the period prior to the influence of things like school, religion and mass media. This was a time of freedom and happiness. I had everything I needed – although I owned virtually nothing; and I was ‘enough’ – for myself and for those around me; though I couldn’t even read or write. I didn’t know much or understand anything, but I believed that life was good and that anything was possible. My inner Light was shining forth brightly and life was lived from this place of strong connection to it.
Then came the period spanning my schooling years to most of my adult life (up to just a few years before now). This period was not without its happiness and highs. But still, it is one marked by feelings of angst and inadequacy at not being ‘enough’ – because I could never seem to measure up to the ideals that others and I held up for myself; and feelings of not having ‘enough’ – despite owning a home and all the stuff that was in it (pretty ironic when you think about it). I had come to believe in scarcity and limitation and my ego had all but snuffed out my Inner Light.
I was not living freely or giving expression to my true spirit. I was simply operating within the narrow confines of a framework that had been dictated by others. I was acting out what I had been conditioned to accept and conform to and calling that ‘my life’. That was not really a ‘life’ and it certainly was not MY life.
Then came this period of ‘awakening’ and self-discovery. ‘Awakening to what?” you may ask. Awakening to the lies that I had chosen to believe about myself and about life. Awakening to the fact that I am not my conditioned and easily manipulated ego, but something far greater and more magnificent than I might fully come to realise in this lifetime. Now that I am able to see my ego for what it is, I am slowly awakening to the things it once obscured – truths that are both liberating and life-giving.
Now I consciously choose to nurture my Inner Light and once again, live life from a place of connection and alignment to that greater and richer part of me. The result of this is that I am a happier person now. I am once more finding that I AM enough and that I do HAVE enough. What could be more conducive to feelings of inner peace and happiness than realisations such as these!?
I think I succeeded in capturing a sense of this in a little poem I published on this blog about a year ago. It goes a little something like this:
When I was young the world was a magical place
I could roam the garden by myself for hours and find excitement at every turn;
A cat here, an orchid there and sometimes a tasty treat in the form of a fruit from a low-hanging branch;
Time would fly by and I would remain blissfully unaware, alone and engrossed in my little world.
Then I grew up.
The world had lost its magic now
Simple things like a cat or a pretty flower could no longer delight me;
Being by myself had lost it’s charm – now I needed to be around others and I needed their approval too;
I had an image that I felt heavily invested in and it drove my life: what I thought, how I felt, and what I did;
In growing up I had lost ‘me’.
Then I grew older.
I started to care less about grown-up things
I became a husband and a father and learned to love staying home;
I returned to the garden and began to see again the beauty of the flowers, the birds, the clouds and the sunset.
Amidst all the complexities and responsibilities of life in the grown-up world, I had found ‘me’ again.
The ‘me’ that I refer to there is my Inner Light. It is who I really am.
Our Inner Light can be clouded out when we take on the ways and the knowledge of the world. When we choose to follow the rules and do as we ‘should’ in order to fit in and survive, while ignoring our true feelings, we diminish our Inner Light and our connection to our Divinity. The way we feel about something or someone is our inner guidance. It is the very key to our happiness and we ignore it at our peril. So it has come to be, that for many of us, we need to learn to nurture this part of us and return it to its rightful place – where it guides the direction of our lives and helps us make our most important decisions.
Now, I can’t think of anything better that I can do, as a Happiness Addict, than to nurture this part of me. Experience has shown me that the more I do this, the happier I feel as a person.
This brings us to the final question: “How do you nurture your Inner Light?”. Since we are all different and unique, this will vary from person to person. I can only suggest a general rule of thumb and that is to learn how to calm down your mental chatter so that you can understand how you really feel about something and then to act from that place of clarity – instead of cruising through life on ‘auto-pilot’ as in following the norm or letting ‘should monster’ make your decisions for you.
Being in tune with our feelings and listening to our inner guidance is the key.
There is one more thing that I would like to pass on and that is: take the time to think about and to do things that are not ‘survival’ oriented. This is because, as discussed above, those parts of us that are not survival oriented and our Inner Light are one and the same. So when we nurture our playfulness or creativity, we, in fact, nurture our Inner Light.
In terms of the specific things that I do to nurture my Inner Light, it’s usually things that I consider ‘fun’ – like spending time with friends and loved ones, exploring our beautiful world, taking long walks and spending time in nature, writing (if only for myself), taking photographs and reading or listening to the ideas of others that I feel I can learn from. All of these things have helped me find my way back to the ‘real’ me. But the one thing that really stands out in terms of helping me make sense of everything and find my own way in life is to simply ‘be’ – to give myself the time and the mental space to think, imagine and reflect. It is at these times that I tend to have my little ‘eureka’ moments about life and about how I would like to live it.
So… to all you Luke Skywalkers out there: remember that the ‘Force’ is strong within each and every one of you. Go forth now and embrace your Inner Light and may it guide you to the thrilling and exhilarating epic blockbuster that is your life!