What You Focus On You Become

Tips-Illus-Movies2(Fifth entry in an ongoing series in which movies are used to illustrate happiness concepts and tips.)

It is a spiritual principle that what you focus on, you become.  The mind is like water and takes on the shape of whatever you put it in. So if you focus strongly on a school or work project, your mind will be filled with that project; if you surf the Internet constantly, you will feel very dull as that is the vibration of the Internet; if you focus on how you were a victim of some injustice, you will be filled with victimhood; if you play a lot of aggressive video games, you will feel really aggressive; if you watch a lot of pornography, you will become obsessed with sex; if you focus on enlightenment, your mind will be filled with light. There’s no judgement here, it’s just literally that what you put into your mind is what you will think about and as a result, who you become.

TOTAL-RECALL-ENDINGThis principle is illustrated in the movie Total Recall (1990). In the movie, Hauser (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a secret agent who wants to infiltrate the rebel stronghold so he can assassinate their leader, Kuato, and snuff out the rebellion. Since Kuato is deeply psychic and could easily identify an infiltrator who wants to kill him, Hauser orchestrates a very elaborate series of events, including having his memories wiped, so he can infiltrate the rebels with a mind free of his traitorous intent. But what happens is that in his secret identity as Douglas Quaid, he falls in love with one of the rebels and sympathizes with their plight. Immersed in the rebels’ world he becomes one of them. And then when he sees a video of himself saying it was all a setup to kill Kuato and now it’s time to have his Hauser memories restored, he has no desire to go back to being Hauser (despite the big house and Mercedes).  By being immersed in the rebel stronghold, he took on their states of mind, their perceptions and didn’t want to go back to his old mind (and didn’t).

Your mind, like Hauser’s, will take on the vibration of whatever you put it into, so take care where you put your mind! And always focus on the high and bright.*

*When I say to focus on the high and bright, this is not meant to imply that you should deny your problems or issues. In fact, in order to have a happy mind, you must address your problems and keep your personal, financial and career houses in order precisely so your mind can be free to focus on the high and bright. More on this topic can be found can be found in this post on how to be mindful.

Sara is the author of the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way available on AmazonAmazon UK and Amazon DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here. © 2014 Sara Weston

Your Experience of Life Is Determined By Your State of Mind

Tips-Illus-Movies2How you experience your day-to-day life is based on your state of mind. This concept is illustrated perfectly in the movie Groundhog Day, where the protagonist Phil (played by Bill Murray) experiences the exact same day over and over again. In this day where he encounters the same people and events repeatedly, the only thing that changes in the day is his state of mind. He experiences the exact same day in many different ways, from cynical to amazed to suicidal to supremely content, with the changes arising only from his mind state and consequent actions.

In the beginning when he realizes that he is stuck living the same day over and over again (a metaphor for reincarnation and being stuck on the wheel of life, death and rebirth), he is exhilarated at the perceived lack of consequences for his actions. He pursues his desires, stealing money from the armored car, tricking women into dating him, and most especially, manipulating Rita (played by Andie MacDowell) into liking him. But when he becomes bored with the money and dates and is rejected by Rita, his state of mind turns suicidal and he futilely kills himself over and over again, always waking up again in the same day.

1993, GROUNDHOG DAYWhen he finally decides to stop being self-destructive and indulgent, he begins to use his day to improve himself and help others, and in the process becomes content. Rita is then naturally attracted to his more authentic self and, without even having to try, he finally gets the girl (becomes enlightened) and wakes up in a new day (exits off the wheel of life, death and rebirth). So like Phil, you too have the opportunity to choose the outcome of your day and thus your life, by choosing your state of mind.

Sara is the author of the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way available on AmazonAmazon UK and Amazon DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here. © 2014 Sara Weston

Happiness Tip: Don’t let the fear of offending someone trap you in a draining situation.

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Third entry in an ongoing series in which movie scenes are used to illustrate happiness concepts and tips.

One tip in How to Be Happy NOW is Don’t let the fear of offending someone trap you in a draining situation, excerpted here:  If someone is dumping all over you, you don’t need to stick around because you feel like you will hurt that person’s feelings by leaving quickly. This may seem incredibly obvious, yet many people will allow a coworker to dump all their garbage on them, or allow a creepy man to hit on them because they don’t want to hurt his feelings. It’s okay to hurt the feelings of someone who is draining you or dumping on you! If you want to be graceful in your escape, you can have a few good excuses in your back pocket, such as “I was just on my way to the restroom” or “I have a meeting that I need to get to,” but don’t take on someone’s bad energy because you think it is the polite or compassionate thing to do.

the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-2011-poster2In the movie The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the reporter Mikael Blomkvist has figured out that Martin Vanger is a serial killer. Mikael goes to Martin’s house to snoop around and find more evidence. Martin sees him outside his house and asks him in for a drink. Mikael goes into the house and then is forced into the room where Martin kills his victims.  As he plans to kill him, Martin says:

Can I ask you something?….You knew something was wrong – you even knew what it was – but you came back into the house. Did I force you? Did I grab you and drag you in? I just offered you a drink. (pause)

You’d never think the fear of offending could be stronger than the fear of pain – but you know what? It is. They always come willingly.

Of course, this is an extreme example—most of us would not go into a serial killer’s house for the sake of not offending him! Far more “threatening” are coworkers, salespeople and certain friends or relatives who just want to dump their garbage on us, and we let them because we don’t want to offend them. Each of us knows the difference between a friend who needs our support and a kind ear and a person who is ranting, complaining and dumping their toxicity on us. It is okay to offend someone who is using us or draining us. Get out of there.

Happiness tip excerpted from the new book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way available on Amazon and Amazon UK. © 2013 Sara Weston

Your Future Is NOT Set

Tips-Illus-Movies2Many folks believe that their future is set—that they are destined to continue on the track they are currently on. And to some extent, they are right. Most people will continue to follow their current karma. (When I use karma here, I don’t mean the pop culture understanding of karma where if I steal a car today, my car will be stolen in short order. Rather I’m referring to the esoteric meaning of karma, which is that your karma is the sum total of all your thoughts and actions. It is your current state of mind, which reflects the way you react to people and situations in life.)

In general, people don’t do much to change their karma (their state of mind), so their lives do follow the track they’re already on. But it doesn’t have to be this way—you can absolutely change your karma through the use of your free will. It is entirely possible to change your state of mind, change the way you react to situations, and change “you”!

PreCogsThis concept of using your free will to change your karma is illustrated perfectly in the movie Minority Report. In the movie there is an experimental “Pre-crime” police unit, which apprehends criminals before they commit their crimes. The unit uses three gifted humans called “pre-cogs” who see crimes before they happen. By monitoring these pre-cogs’ brains, the police know the criminal’s name and when the crime will occur, so they arrive at the scene of the crime before the crime is committed and arrest the future criminal.

The benefit of this method is, of course, that the crime is prevented. The downside is that it doesn’t allow for the possibility that the criminal may change his or her mind and not commit the crime. In fact, one of the more gifted pre-cogs, Agatha, occasionally sees a different future in which the crime is not committed. This seeing, which is divergent from the other two pre-cogs, is called the “minority report”. It represents the criminal’s use of free will to make a different choice and change his destiny. The two pre-cogs who see the “majority report” are seeing the criminal’s karma or default state of mind. Most of the time, all three pre-cogs see the same outcome. This is because most people don’t diverge from their karma. But occasionally, Agatha sees a different future, the minority report, which is when a person uses their free will to break away from their karma.

We all have the ability to use our free will to change our karma, to change our state of mind, our choices, and thus, our future. If you’ve always been bad at finances, you can use your will to make different choices and get your finances in order. If in the past you’ve had calamitous relationships, you can change your state of mind to choose healthier relationships. If you’ve always had an unhappy state of mind, you can use your free will to take steps to change your mind state to a happy one. Your future is not set!

p.s. You can strengthen your will by meditating on your navel center, which is the center of willpower. It’s best to learn to meditate from someone advanced in meditation, however, if that is not available to you, meditation instruction is included in the appendix of my book, How to Be Happy NOW, Even If Things Aren’t Going Your Way.

Happiness Tip: Avoid Naysayers

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One tip in How to Be Happy NOW is to Avoid Naysayers, excerpted here:
There are some people who have limited perception and don’t think it’s possible to change your circumstances or make your dreams come true. Avoid sharing your dreams and aspirations with these folks because they can drag you down with their negativity and dissuade you from working towards your goals. Instead seek constructive criticism and feedback from people who are happy to assist you and don’t want to shoot you down.

The movie Maid in Manhattan is an enjoyable Cinderella retread, where the working class gal gets the prince/senator after running away from the ball, however what struck me as true-to-life and illustrative of the “Avoid Naysayers” tip was the relationship between the main character, Marisa, and her mother.  Marisa, played by Jennifer Lopez, works as a maid in a five-star hotel. She dreams of a better life for herself and her young son, and wants to move out of housekeeping and into management. When her mother sees the application she says: (18:38 into the movie, or at 8:27 in this YouTube clip)

Mom: This fell out of your bag.  Is it yours?MaidinManhattan
Marisa: Yeah, thanks.
Mom: Managment, huh? (raising her eyebrows)
Marisa: Um, hum
Mom: You’re fancy. (glaring)
Marisa: What?
Mom: I’m not saying a word.
Marisa: Can you not say a word somewhere else.

The mom doesn’t believe her daughter deserves to be anything more than a maid and completely discourages her dreams of moving into management. Later in the movie after Marisa is fired they have this exchange:

Mom: We’ll call Señora Rodriguez. She owes me a favor. She has–
Marisa: I’m not calling Mrs. Rodriguez. I love you, okay? I do. But I don’t want to clean houses. There’s nowhere to go from there.
Mom: Hasn’t this taught you anything? Wake up, little girl, you have responsibilities. And they come every month like clockwork. You want to end up back in the projects? Keep dreaming dreams that will never happen. You want to put food on the table? Call Señora Rodriguez.
Marisa: You’re right, Ma. I’m a good cleaning lady. I’ll start over. But not with Mrs. Rodriguez. I’m gonna find a job as a maid in some hotel. After some time passes, I’m gonna apply for the management program. And when I get the chance to be a manager….and I will, Ma, I know I will, I’m going to take that chance without any fear. Without your voice in my head telling me that I can’t.

I’m sure Marisa’s mom wanted what was best for her daughter, she just didn’t have the vision to see that more was available. There’s nothing surprising or wrong about a parent (friend, partner, etc.) having a limited dream, but we can’t pay attention to these people. Instead we need to seek constructive criticism and feedback from people who are happy to assist us and don’t want to shoot us down.

I like what John Tesh said about his transition in career from cohost of Entertainment Tonight to musician. He asked five people he knew well what they saw him doing with his life. Each said they saw him doing something with music and not one of them said they saw him reading celebrity birthdays on TV. He said, “The key is to ask the right people. These should be people who know you well or knew you well in the past and whose opinions you truly value. They should not all be close family members, however. Sometimes close family members point us toward the path that they consider stable or prudent, not to the one that can lead to our true passion.

“If I had asked my parents, they would have said that they saw me as a doctor—because they consider medicine a good profession, not because I have any interest in medicine or an aptitude for it.” Quoted in Bottom Line Personal, November 1, 2012.