This just in: the world isn’t designed to make you happy. (!)

I got to hear Eckhart Tolle speak last week and he dropped the mic like nobody’s business. 





This is a long post, but it’s some freaking mind-blowing transformational stuff and – who knew?! – not everything can be consumed in two minutes. I invite you to strap in: let’s take a ride in my spaceship coupe, shall we?

Let’s put aside the fact that Eckhart Tolle looks like a hobbit who digs sweater vests and has a somewhat robotic voice. Let’s also put aside that really famous spiritual teachers can often be wolves in sheep’s clothing. People, hear me: Eckhart Tolle is the real deal. I want to share some of what he said at the Skirball Center in NYC last week because I think there are a lot of writers out there who are living, day in and day out, with intense dissatisfaction. You, or a writer you know, may be hungering for transformation, for a revision of your story. You might be seeing how this dissatisfaction and angst about your writing or publishing is creeping into your work, stifling your creative spirit. Hear ye, hear ye:


This world is not designed to make you happy; it’s designed to challenge you.


This truth Tolle drops doesn’t have to be scary. It’s actually incredibly freeing. By not expecting the universe to make you happy, you can meet it where you’re at.

The challenge the universe is throwing your way, he says, is what is working to awaken you. You are forced into this awakening because you’ve become sick of yourself and the narrative. This means that if you’re feeling claustrophobic in your own skin, itching for a change, for a plot twist, that’s a good sign: it means you’re waking up, out of the stupor that our day to day cares often throw us into.  


On Unhappiness

The unhappiness you feel, he says, is almost always derived from your narrative of the situation rather than the situation itself. The possibility of freedom arises when you become aware of what’s happening in your mind. You are the intelligence behind the thinking mind, you are NOT the thinking mind. You are not your thoughts. You are not that voice that says don’t quit your day job, stick to what is safe, don’t get uppity and think good things can happen to you. In mindfulness practices, we often get into the stories we tell ourselves and how they are often more fictionalized than any book we could write. Knowing that you’re creating this narrative gives you a chance to break out the red pen and do some SERIOUS editing.


Meditation FTW

It’s no surprise that Tolle suggests meditation as a way in to increased alertness and consciousness. This practice is what allows you to tune into presence, to the deeper “I,” to the universal self all the good art comes from.  

He suggests beginning this foray into the deeper self by asking, when a challenging situation arises:


  • What would this situation be like if I didn’t add my thoughts to it? What would happen if I could take this moment for what it is? Not adding unnecessary baggage to it, just experience it right here, right now.


He says that living from an awakened state is the act of constantly catching your mind when it tries to interpret your reality. Separate your interpretation from the actual thing. It’s no longer bad, because your mind is telling you it’s bad. Yes, we can get into all the ways a rejection letter sucks. But when you get that letter, how are things in your universe? Are they really bad? Is this truly the end of the world? #perspective


To read the rest of this post, head on over here, where I archive my monthly newsletter (while you’re at it, why don’t you subscribe so that you can get my free Mindful Social Media for Writers worksheet? Hands down, this is one of the most helpful things in your creative arsenal).


Breathe. Write. Repeat. 




Gorgeous art by John Holmes


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