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ARE you happy? happy face Think again.

"Every individual is experiencing darkness in one way or another. Enlightenment is possible only with 'internal work,' by cultivating one's state of being," said Mike George at a lecture held at Earthlite recently.

The London-based management consultant and life coach visited the Philippines to share his insights on life and happiness.

George said we had lost awareness of what was true in his journey called life. This is why beliefs have been created and maintained-to the point that we resort to violence to defend them.

"When we believe in something, it is not necessarily the truth. No one can convince us of what is true," said George.

Even George cannot convince us of what is true. He says he can only guide us to our "aha!" moments, also called the "eureka" moments, instances of realization or quick insight.

Here, there is a release of energy and power. This is what is described as enlightenment.

"The truths are within us, not outside. It is our false beliefs that block the truth," said George.

Asked what is the missing link in our search for the truth, he replied, "All that I'm saying is an expression of my spirituality-knowing the self first. I'm not any of my labels but I'm spirit, a soul and a source of peace and happiness. This is what exactly Jesus, Buddha and other prophets were up to. Their common essential message is to know yourself first. Go beyond belief. Get into the truth. Religion is already packaged. Spirituality is more about process. Starting with the self is proper selfishness."

In his lecture at Earthlite, George showed the contrast between truths and myths by describing the characteristics of "darkened souls" and "enlightened souls."

Seven Habits of Darkened Souls  
sad face

1. Acquisition is equivalent to substance. This is based on the belief that the more you have, the more success and happiness you achieve. This is why many people go for compulsive shopping. In fact, what they create is the fear of loss or fear of damage, which is the entry point for insecurity or spiritual ignorance.

2. Control of other human beings. In childhood, we probably picked up from our parents the habit of reprimanding others. Without realizing it, we spend our life controlling others or trying to change others according to how we think they should behave. Suddenly we get feedback from someone that we need to change our behavior.

3. Dependence on something or someone. We attribute happiness to marriage, when the kids come home and when we retire. We delay happiness. The paradox is, most human beings are happy being unhappy. Happiness comes not from external conditions but from within. We create our own happiness.

We are conditioned to believe that love is what will complete our lives. Deep inside what we have is a huge emotional need for love, and a fear of unsatisfied longing.

4. Belief in labels. This is our greatest mistake and one of our deepest habits. We ask, "What is your profession? Where do you come from?"

Then you end the conversation with that. When you do this, you cease to try to understand the other person. The more you label another, the more you give power to that label than to the real identity of the person. What were neutral labels yesterday have become negative ones today.

5. Listening to the voice of the inner critic (the victim and the judge). The critic says, "I can't change, I can't be enlightened, I am no good!" We need to transform these voices. We need to love them to death because love is the only thing that kills fear.

Try seeing yourself in front of the mirror the moment you wake up. Start laughing at yourself-a guaranteed stress reliever. This is the way to have a real relationship with the self as against what others think about you.

6. We can lose something valuable. In his book "Discover Inner Peace," George describes attachment as the condition from which we suffer when we are incapable of acceptance.

"In our lack of belief in ourselves, we cling to material possessions as substitutes for self worth; we become fixed in our habits, especially those that give us pleasure; we react emotionally when life does not go as planned, or when the ego sees the opportunities for inflating itself."

The truth is we own nothing but we can only use material things. We are only trustees of these things for some time. Our possessiveness generates fear and causes our diseases. Negative thoughts weaken the immune system. George quotes a Buddhist truism as saying, "When you die before you die, then you don't die when you die."

7. The beauty myth. This myth is pervasive in every culture and in every society. For example, many people aspire to be beautiful and happy like the models in the magazines. The belief is that beauty can be attained through buying and consuming.

Habbits of Elightened Soulshappy face

We spend a lot of energy desiring to attain our society's definition of beauty that constantly compares ourselves with others. The truth is, each one is absolutely unique. True beauty is inner beauty; it is the result of being enlightened.

1. Be quiet. At least once a day, sit down. There is a source within each one of us called the spirit or soul. It is a crime to disturb the inner peace. This peace is our power to create positive things in our life.

Try speaking softly and slowly than your usual way. Speaking this way is more powerful because it attracts the peace in others. Just be aware of your words. Savor their energy and rhythm.

2. Let go. Don't hold on to anything with your hand or with your mind. Many think that doing this means losing. If you don't release the old, you can't get anything new. This requires detachment.

Letting go means moderating excessive attachment to material possessions, to emotions, or to the status quo or comfort zones in our lives.

3. Let it be. We are great fixers of other people's lives. We're trying to write somebody else's script. We are absent from our own lives because we're busy living the life of others. Acceptance and contentment are the first steps to healthy relationships.

George cites the example of our appreciation of the moon, which is beyond change. We never dream of wanting to change or influence it, nor have we the slightest remorse that the same face of the moon is always turned toward us: We have no need to see the dark side. Extend this deep feeling of acceptance to the people we meet.

4. Listen in. Use your intuition, the inner tutor and the voice of wisdom. George gave the example of his chronic smoking for 14 years. Though his inner voice told him that it was not healthy, he suppressed that voice.

Because we have held on to our false beliefs for so long, we ignore and distrust our inner voice and tell it to shut up. The process of enlightenment is the process of learning to trust that inner voice once again.

George cites the example of conscience as intuition at work. When we misbehave, the voice of conscience alerts us to our mistake. We may shun that voice, engaging in reason as the ally of ego to justify our deeds.

Yet the troubling intuitive disapproval of conscience will go on to make its rebukes. We can either suppress the advice or repair the wrong.

5. Wake up. Habits are programmed by our external conditioning. Write down your habits then decide which ones to strike out and replace them with virtues. Visualize the virtue you want to create and empower that image.

For example, if you want to develop patience, visualize yourself as a patient person. Watch, feel and manifest patience in every action you do until it becomes your behavior. Waking up is to consciously choose your behavior and thereby create the personality you want. Never believe anyone who says, "You can never change."

6. Know yourself. Look behind the "I want" attitude, those desires that make us need things that are not necessary. The truth is, happiness is a choice, not a chore, a decision to bring out from the self. Affirm that you are happiness, a source of happiness.

7. Pass it on. Take one idea from this article then pass it on to another. You empower yourself and the other as you share this truth. This is also giving value to the time you spent reading this.

George uses the river as metaphor for life. Life is like a river, constantly flowing. The highest purpose of rivers is to nourish plants and people who are fellow travelers in the journey of life. Our highest purpose is to nourish others.

Like the river, the greatest gift one can give is wisdom. Through this, you empower yourself as well as others.

Try these habits, one by one.

After the lecture, a participant asked how the majority of Filipinos who live below the poverty line could be enlightened.

George replied, "Poverty is a perception. There are different levels of poverty: material, mental and spiritual or internal. The Philippines, compared to the UK, still has the spirit of community. When I go to the poor villages of Mt. Abu in India, I see children who have completely nothing but radiate with genuine happiness and innocence. This is spiritual richness, which you can never see in materially wealthy countries."

Happiness is an Inside Job



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