Recently, I had a very angry client who assured me he was taking control of his life and had done much research on Google and had even bought some self help books to turn his post marriage life around.
He assured me that with new book at hand and Dr Google on standby he would have a rosy future.

As a lawyer, I often feel torn as to whether I should be providing just plain ol’ legal advice or instead advice on calming down and taking stock of unhappy emotions. Unhappiness and ongoing anger towards your ex is never going to get you good parenting or property solutions either at the negotiating table or at court.
But I think it needs more than a book or a slightly frustrated (but caring) lawyer to help that.

In our stressed out constantly connected world, never a day goes by without a self-help book, seminar, columnist or online blogger assuring us our problems can be solved, moods changed, and our perfection realised with just a few sure fire pieces of advice. 

You see “self-help” is primarily very big business.  

Lindsay E. Myers, a national healthcare consultant notes that the self-improvement industry is worth around $10 billion per year in the U.S. alone.  Year after year, people from broken relationships keep feeding their insatiable appetites for someone’s opinion on how they can better manage their minds and lives.  Myers’ notes that self-help has a high recidivism rate, with the most likely purchaser of a self-help book being the same person who purchased one already in the last 18 months.

Take a quick look at the current crop of gurus and soothsayers sitting atop of the Amazon best sellers list:

    • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
    • Balancing in Heels: My Journey to Health, Happiness, & Making it all Work
    • Calm the F*ck Down: An Irreverent Adult Coloring in Book

Lord have mercy,  a “self-help” colouring-in book!

But I do wonder, if these tomes are so effective at solving our problems why do they usually result in a continuing stream of self-help purchases?  Perhaps we should put down the colouring-in book and instead  join the dots to deduce why self-help ain’t making us or our marriages and relationships better. 

You’ve probably noticed that little voice inside your head. The one that clings to petty grievances, or dislikes of someone or thing, like an tiresome spouse or partner making a daily visit to regurgitate the whining they did yesterday.  This mind noise can end up becoming part of our psyche.
Why can’t we just stop thinking about this nonsense and be more like our ever friendly, non-grudge holding…canine friends.
You see dogs never get addicted to their emotions and that’s probably why they make great companions (unlike that grumpy partner)

Dr Joe Dispenza, author of the best selling “Evolve Your Brain: The Science Of Changing Your Mind”, reminds us that most people are unaware of how addicted they are to their emotions‚ and how the brain perpetuates those addictions automatically.
In short‚ we become slaves to our emotional addictions without even realising it. 
 

As Joe states: “every time we fire a thought in our brain, we make chemicals, which produce feelings and other reactions in the body.” Our body grows very accustomed to these chemicals, like the ‘happy’ chemical dopamine which comes about with the joy of finding what you are seeking, or the satisfaction of enjoying a meal. 

Dr Dispenza warns us that we  do nearly everything we can, both consciously and subconsciously, to restore our familiar chemical balance. His belief  is that any interruption in the regular, consistent and comfortable level of our chemical makeup results in distress.  Consequently, changing those persistent moods and negative feelings just doesn’t feel right.   In fact, if your regularly angry and then have a ‘good’ day, your body will start to miss those anger related chemicals it is so use to. No need to wonder why certain people predominantly carry the same unhappy disposition. 

What if we were to be mindful and observe these negative patterns of thought‚ and start to rewiring the brain with new thoughts through some simple daily meditation?

Meditation can help break the cycle of unhappiness with ourselves and others. When you take the steps to stop the flow of negative ‘noise’ and imagine goodwill and compassion for others, you also become kinder to yourself.
You can also become a more composed, relaxed and better negotiator when it comes to sorting out your parenting and property matters. Or would you rather the lawyers do it in a “battle royal”… and charge you accordingly?

I like to remember how much I lived in awe of my wonderful bull terrier Scoobi, who we lost five years ago, and his approach to life. Even when chastised, he never held a grudge or carried an unhappy disposition. He just learnt his lessons and moved on with an ever present wagging tail. If I was ever unwell or angry he instinctively gave his unconditional doggy compassion, rather than worrying. He never spent a second regurgitating the daily mind noise we all seem to accept.
Overthinking would of ruined his nature. 

So Why Not Give Meditation A Chance.

I mean you don’t have to follow the meditation described below, for example some people just like to find some quiet time to sit and not think of anything for 10-15 minutes but it’s not as easy as it sounds folks when you have so much on your mind.

Meditation to remove negativity plus create goodwill for others

You will need around 10-15 minutes for this one, and remember to find a spot that is quiet and free from distraction.

  1. Take the time to practice a little breath counting meditation for say 5 minutes, to calm the body and empty your mind. Remember, just focus on observing the in-breath and the path it takes, and the number (1-5) on the out-breath. Restart once you get to 5. If your mind starts wandering around the 3 mark, just remind yourself that 3 is the important halfway breath that must not be distracted! If thoughts do pop up that are distracting just acknowledge them and… send them on their way!
    Once you have finished this warm up, tell yourself that you are going to now meditate to remove the negatives and suffering experienced by ALL living beings (yes, not just yourself but even your ex you can’t stand)
    Say to yourself at the start:  May all beings be happy, fulfilled and receive my compassion.
  2. On the in-breath visualise a white light entering your nostrils, streaming down your throat and filling your entire being. The white light is your positive energy. Visualise yourself  with the out-breath getting rid of present and future suffering of all in the form of black smoke, repeat this process until you feel you have exhaled all your present and future suffering, and have replaced it with something much better, a radiant joy.
  3. You can use this to firstly deal with your own troubled headspace, but then use the same meditation to visualise others for whom you would like to send positive thoughts, both friends and enemies, to help rid their dissatisfactions and unhappiness. You’ll be creating some great karma in your life.
    Again, your ‘mantra’, if you get distracted is: for all beings to be happy, fulfilled and to receive your compassion.

Imagine this white light as having the same effect as a powerful antidepressant, except it’s a totally natural one. And practise this everyday so you can take charge of any odious negative noise and make it something positive.
For as Gandhi said:   

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

I’m sure dear old Scoobi would have felt exactly the same way.

                                             

*With thanks to David Michie author of:  Buddhism for Busy People”

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Written by The Legal Eagle