Happiness, More or Less

The road to happiness is paved with letting go. Letting go of ego. Letting go of perfection. Letting go of the illusion of separation. Letting go of needing to know. Letting go of all of the things that hold you down, and prevent you from being your shiniest you.

I used to be a real miserable sack. When I did my spring cleaning this year, I found a diary from when I was eight years old. One day I wrote that I was “actually in a good mood, for once”. How sad.

We all start off a product of our environment. How could it be any other way?

When I was a kid, I was punished for crying. So I learned not to. I got picked on in grade school. So I learned to isolate and protect myself. And I was raised by a parent who was clinically depressed. So I vibed on that too.

I started off a sweet, sensitive, and boisterous kid. But you’d never have known it by my mid-twenties, when I’d turned into a hard ass mother fucker. My nickname at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office was even “bull dog”. I had black suits. Black glasses. Black hair. Black heart.

My nature had been completely thwarted by my nurture. And the result was nothing less than ICK. And felt completely authentic. A lot of people resign themselves to thinking the product of their nurture/dysfunction is actually their nature, but I disagree.

To the contrary, it was the mistaken belief that I was somehow separate, weird and different from other people that was my undoing. I now know that where it counts most, we’re all exactly the same. Love and stardust.

From my late teens through late twenties, strangers regularly thought I was a bitch. I’d hear it back from friends all the time:

“So and so said they thought you were a bitch, but I told them they just needed to get to know you, and that you were really awesome.”

For a decade, I just thought that’s “who I was”. Someone who was nice on the inside, bitchy on the outside. Except I wasn’t even bitchy. I was scared.

But then I started my own law practice in 2008. I realized instantly that my little first impression problem was going to cost me BIG in business. I NEEDED judges, court coordinators, court clerks, prosecutors and clients to like and trust me. NOW.

So what’s a bitch to do? I went to Barnes and Noble and headed to the sales section.

I thought I left the store with a sales book, but really it was a yoga book. Even though the word never appeared on the pages.

The answer, the author claimed, was to get my outsides to match my insides. Of course you’re a nice person, whose parents and friends love them. The trick, he said, was to figure out how to let that shine through… and then fake it ’till you make it.

One exercise he suggested was to find the one thing that you have in common with everyone, and then talk about that. I reasoned that all people I’d want to know would like dogs. So I started talking about mine.

I turned it into my daily sadhana (practice). I challenged myself to get uncomfortable. To talk to strangers. Everywhere. All day. Every day.

The court clerk I used to brush by. The convenience store clerk I used to rush. The person next to me I tried to ignore in yoga.

At first, it totally sucked. I used to hate small talk, because I thought it was fake. And I’m a lot of things, but a faker isn’t one of them.

Just like Arch Lustberg said would happen, the shift eventually came. After years of forcing myself to talk to strangers… I found myself naturally glad to.

I used to think “have a nice day” sounded trite from a stranger, thinking it was just some bull shit they were saying but didn’t really mean. Now, when I hear myself saying it, I know just how genuine it can be. Because I genuinely want EVERYONE to have a nice day.

Including YOU.


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