Sanity, Serenity, Serendipity

by Christopher Lovejoy on December 14, 2019

human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story;
no matter how hard we concentrate, no matter how deep we dig in our heels,
we just cannot resist the gravity of alternate worlds

~ Jonathon Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal

In my mind, sanity is a most curious thing, especially in light of these dark and troubled times. Perhaps a fine line does find and wind its way between sanity and insanity, but what if such a line could be thickened or broadened, and, not only made wider, but safer and wiser?

Is it not true that too much uncertainty can all too easily become the enemy of sanity when situations that threaten chaos feel stressful to the point of overwhelm? But, is it also not true that too much certainty, rigidly concocted and applied, might also be the enemy of sanity?

Many a circumstantial tightrope has been walked in the direction of order in the midst of chaos, with only these two questions in mind: in this situation, am I being too attentive, sensitive, or responsive to chaos? In this situation, am I being too rigid with what I need or require?

Speaking of requirements, consider these four simple guidelines to pre-serving sanity:

1) Awareness: I do not have options until I am aware of who I am and what I am doing
2) Relationship: I do not live and work in isolation from others and so I foster relations
3) Curiosity: I stay curious, enhancing the neural pathways in my brain, heart, and gut
4) Story: I define and refine myself with the stories I read, write, hear, and tell the Self

If insanity is doing the same dang thang over and over, and expecting a different result, then sanity is doing a different thang without being too invested in getting any particular result ~ any result will do, just so long as it can withstand scrutiny on the way to being a desired result.

The first guideline ~ awareness, as in “be aware,” or, if you prefer, “beware” ~ reminds us to make “know thyself” a top priority in learning who we are as we go about our ways ‘n days, as we go about meeting our potential to expand, explore, express the essence of who we are.

We need not be perfect, we need not resolve every problem before us (or within us); we merely need to be aware of our options, to be aware that we do have options (or not), and to be aware that choosing among our options in service to self or others is very much the point.

The second guideline ~ relationship, in view of staying sane ~ reminds us to be aware of the penchant for separation or integration, and to be aware of the four options that we might exercise in every moment in relation to others: reclusivity, preclusivity, inclusivity, or exclusivity.

I touched on these four options near the end of my post, Personal Fulfillment. Here, I only wish to add that each of these four options are valid options, to be explored and/or exercised only as and when they feel appropriate or necessary to be explored and/or exercised in relation.

The third guideline ~ curiosity, again, in view of staying sane in these troubled times ~ reminds us of the importance of a beginner’s mind, not only in new situations where new learning is required or desired, but in stale or stagnant situations that stand to use a little refreshment.

Rarely if ever are there more than a few options for “the expert mind”; with beginner’s mind, the options are potentially endless because of its openness to intuition. Any fear (of the unknown, of setbacks, of letdowns, of rejection) can all be replaced with a simple remedy: curiosity.

The fourth guideline ~ the stories we tell ourselves and others ~ reminds us of the power of narrative to craft lives of promise and possibility. It’s all well and good to define ourselves in relation to others with stories, but the challenge is in refining (or releasing) these stories as we go.

Beware the power of story. True, stories can keep us sane, but they also have the potential to drive us insane. The quality and vitality of our stories will only be as good as our awareness, relationships, and curiosity allow. Think of the four guidelines to sanity as a package deal.

Now what follows are sentence stems for each guideline to deepen, broaden, and heighten awareness, to wake the self up to what really and truly matters to the self, so as to forge a spiritual foundation for sane living, loving, and learning. I invite you to free associate as you go.

I trust your responses will be personal to you ~ not what is expected of you …

Awareness: I Am, I Can, I Will

I am … aware of my options ~ and my priorities

I am …

I can … exercise my options as required or desired

I can …

I will … persist in doing what needs doing in the days ahead

I will …

Relationship: I Need, I Wish, I Must

I need … a supportive relationship with my feelings

I need …

I wish … to contribute more than a modicum of value

I wish …

I must … always remember: flow … follows … focus

I must …

Curiosity: I Have, I Love, I Feel

I have … all that I could need to love this life I live

I have …

I love … being open to learning and doing new things

I love …

I feel … drawn to explore and generate fresh insights

I feel …

Story: Awareness, Relationship, Curiosity

Because I am …

Because I am … aware of my options and priorities, I can exercise them as required or desired, to do what needs doing in the days ahead, in view of contributing more than a modicum of value, just so long as I retain and maintain a supportive relationship with my feelings.

In relation to others, I must always remember that flow follows focus, as I recall that I have all that I could need to love this life I live. I love the attitude of being open to learning or doing something new, even as I continue to feel drawn to explore and generate fresh insights …

The Story of My Life (with Sanity in Mind)

Life, in the end, is a story, but makes for good story?

Although I have heard it said, it is always best to finish strong, a tragic ending need not be such a bad thing if the life itself proved to be quite good. Likewise, a wasted or wasteful life need not be such a bad thing if the beginning or ending of this life proved to be good as well.

And here, I speak from the perspective of a cosmic being capable of countless incarnations.

What I find most curious about the story of my life is that I am both a character of fate and an author of destiny. In any given moment, I can look back on my life and either take it as fate or use it as material from which to move onward and forward in my own way, on my own terms.

From this point forward, I can play with the possibilities …

Perhaps, for now, life is a beach, to be viewed and treated as a feast of leisure and pleasure. Or, if not a beach, then a quest, where life is a journey with purpose. Or, maybe life is a game ~ a finite game that is a fight to the death or an infinite game that is perpetual re-creation.

In view of these themes (and more), sanity is akin to staying true to your theme, and this, too: being the author of a clear, cogent, consistent story in accordance with theme. But are we necessarily stuck with any given theme for life? Maybe yes, maybe no, or maybe just maybe.

I say, “pick a theme and run with it to see where it takes you (if anywhere).” This way you get to find out soon enough whether the soul of your fate or the fate of your soul has other plans, but even here, we need to be careful not to give in or to give up too quickly and too easily.

Suppose you would like to view and treat your life, at least for now, as a beach, but that you now feel your life is more like a slow, inexorable slide towards an early death. If such be the case, just know that you could defuse the feeling and get on with the finding, acting “as if.”

Sometimes easier said than done, I know, but what else can one do? Sanity sometimes requires a leap of faith guided by reason and intuition, while giving gut instincts their due. If you know in your heart of hearts that life is a beach, then by all means, become a beachcomber, if not for real (at least not yet), then at least in your mind’s eye in view of the many digital equivalents on offer.

Explore long enough to expand your purview, and soon you’ll be taking the express route.

For me, the story of my life (so far) has been ridiculously complex by design. On the one hand, my soul seems bent on defining and refining the ultimate in personal fulfillment; on the other hand, my soul seems bent on viewing and treating the ultimate in personal fulfillment, not as a quest, but as an infinite game that is perpetually recreated from moment to moment to moment to moment.

If you’ve been a long-time reader of my blog on personal fulfillment, you’ll what I’m talking about.

To add to the complexity, my soul also fancies the notion of viewing and treating life as a beach ~ this in view of the fact that it has also set me up to experience some pretty harrowing situations that had me think I was fighting for my life, forcing me to treat life as a finite game.

From this, I have learned and grown into the notion that life is a story that contains and conveys a mosaic of themes, but only to the degree to which I can allow my soul to open me up to treating the story of my life as a mosaic. Otherwise, it seems content just to enjoy the ride.

I am sane to the extent to which my soul can keep track of its themes and supply good story.

Sanity … and Serenity?

I would not blame you in the least if you thought that sanity and serenity are worlds apart. In a sense, they are, but in another sense, they might in fact be as close as two peas in a pod, for if one can reach the pinnacle of personal fulfillment as serenity, is sanity not then assured?

Many years ago, I wrote and published a post on this blog, The Art of Surrender, in which I outlined and explored five values by which to guide the course of my life, and to this day, I still hold them dear to my heart and soul, as follows: beauty, harmony, serenity, intimacy, ecstasy.

Note the centrality of serenity, which I now construe as a kind of bridge between harmony and intimacy. Note, too, that I now construe these values in broad terms, as pointing to a veritable cornucopia of sights and sounds, people and places, ideas and insights ~ real or imagined. Needless to say, these values have stood me in good stead through many years of search and research.

What I find intriguing about serenity is that it is both an absence and a presence, not unlike one of those optical illusions where, in one glance, you see one thing, and then in another glance, you see another.

As an absence of stress and anxiety, serenity might seem a bit irresponsible, until one realizes (1) we need restful sleep to detoxify our bodies and restore our energies; (2) we need to punctuate periods of work with periods of rest to perform optimally; (3) optimal flow in life, work, and leisure follows focus relatively free of stress and anxiety; and (4) intimacy and ecstasy do well without stress and anxiety.

And where serenity is involved, this is just for starters.

As a presence, serenity is a disposition of freedom, free of stress and anxiety in one moment, while being disposed to act, behave, or perform without emotion in another. Here, we would do well to discern the almost gulf-like difference between feeling and emotion: where feelings are evoked, emotions are provoked, with this as a corollary: where feelings are responsive, emotions are reactive.

In other words, feelings have no need of release or relief; emotions, like hatred, do.

Furthermore, where feelings are light and easy on the heart, emotions are heavy and difficult for the heart: this is why it’s advantageous that we be, not only free of stress and anxiety more often than not, but that we also be free of emotion more often than not, and when I say this, I don’t mean to imply that we ignore, dismiss, avoid, bypass, suppress, repress, or otherwise evade emotions.

I also don’t mean to imply that we curb or numb our feelings of anxiety (such as feeling nervous or uneasy) as they serve a vital, useful, helpful function in alerting us to danger, among many other things. May I then suggest we take these feelings in stride as judicious indicators?

In being serene more often than not, are we also not sane more often than not?

But, how does one become serene more often than not?

This is where the wonder of serendipity comes into play.

Sanity, Serenity … and Serendipity?

Serendipity requires surrender, but not surrender in the way you might think.

It was only a few days ago that I discovered the meaning of halcyon (I kid you not). This is especially surprising given how much I treasure idyllically calm and peaceful surroundings, surroundings that also suggest welcome stretches of serenity in view of happy tranquility.

In paying close, carefree attention to crafting the story of my life with the choices I make, and in bearing the consequences of these choices sanely and serenely in a judicious surrender to fate, is my good fortune in making favorable and surprising discoveries not inevitable?

As sanity and serenity conspire to turn my world into my creation, how can serendipity not come to the fore as a natural byproduct of paying close, carefree attention to bearing the consequences of my action, whether or not they seem worthy of my attention, and intentions?

With the consistent, persistent backing of sanity and serenity, consider how pleasant and easy it might be to instill and imbibe these spiritual affirmations on the way to making serendipity a way of life:

I am a true submissive transmissive*
I am attentive, sensitive, responsive
I am given to give tender loving care

I respect difficulty, first and foremost
I invite and explore the depths of love
I conduct truth, beauty, and harmony

I have clear, firm, healthy boundaries
I enjoy my free time in my own space
I see the world with a beginner’s mind

I can see and hear who I do not hurt
I resist, or … I relax, release, respond
I favor warm, kind, gentle interactions

I learn and do what is relevant to me
I wind my way through life with grace
I am free to follow my focus with flow

I welcome my good fortune in making
favorable and surprising discoveries!
that keep me growing with the flowing

* I explore the uncommon notion of submissive transmissive in my posts, On Being a True Submissive and Submissive, Transmissive; with this notion, I am looking to establish a cosmic connection with the creation (my creation)

Days after listing these affirmations, I encountered a wonder child in need of guidance, whose gender I could not discern; in giving guidance, I realized every one of these affirmations ~ such is the miraculous nature of this universe

In arriving at uncommonly good responses that I actually like and love, that I can actually allow and welcome into my every waking moment, I need uncommonly good questions. So again, in light of the lovely words of promise and possibility offered above in favor of serendipity …


In paying close, carefree attention to crafting the story of my life with the choices I make, and in bearing the consequences of these choices sanely and serenely in a judicious surrender to fate, is my good fortune in making favorable and surprising discoveries not inevitable?

As sanity and serenity conspire to turn my world into my creation, how can serendipity not come to the fore as a natural byproduct of paying close, carefree attention to bearing the consequences of my action, whether or not they seem worthy of my attention, and intentions?

Where do I even begin to arrive at uncommonly good responses?

Perhaps with a frame of reference that others can know and use?

A common frame of reference that most anyone can understand and appreciate might start here, with this simple statement of intent: how we make our choices is, of course, how we make our moments ~ preferably with uncommon clarity, equanimity, buoyancy, and serenity.

Is this asking for a lot? Yes, yes it is, but is a life not worth a lot?

Personally speaking, how I make my choices is, of course, how I make my moments. In giving myself a moment to really think into what I am saying here, I come to a realization that choices are nothing less than opportunities to reconfigure the programming of my creation. No such opportunities means no necessity for making choices; focus, flow, and freedom obtain choicelessly.

Either way, it’s win-win.

My default settings, then, are two: (1) sanity, which includes clarity, equanimity, and buoyancy (with all due respect given to the difficulties of provocation and temptation); and (2) serenity (with all due respect given to the difficulties of expectation and obligation). I remain sane and serene with and through choiceless awareness, from which difficulties are noted and brought to terms.

A choice point occurs in the moment I note or sense a difficulty; a choice is made in the moment that I come to terms with this difficulty, and so, what is a difficulty in terms that are understandable to serendipity and what is serendipity in terms that are understandable to difficulty?

What follows is a snapshot of the meaning of difficulty in relation to serendipity:

difficulty (n.):

(1) an effort that feels inconvenient (e.g., a difficulty in living, loving, or working)
(2) a condition that requires much effort to bear or overcome (e.g., a financial difficulty)
(3a) a factor tending to bring about a negative result (e.g., fatigue, distress, impatience)
(3b) a factor causing trouble in bringing about a positive result (e.g., fatigue, distress, impatience)
(4) the quality of being difficult (e.g., the difficulties of a steep mountain climb)

difficult (adj.): inconvenient
difficult (adj.): burdensome (attracts negative outcomes)
difficult (adj.): troublesome (retards positive outcomes)

serendipity (n.):

good fortune in making favorable, surprising discoveries (that bring more convenience, less burden, less trouble, all of which serve to prevent, lighten, or remove burdens and troubles)

Below the dynamic between difficulty and serendipity lies a more fundamental task, one that challenges the heart and mind to discern the key differences between fallibility, nescience, ignorance, and amorality, and then to consistently apply these postures to actual experience:

the many flavors of doing nothing in the moment

fallibility: no action taken, as this was not in my power to do
nescience: no action taken, because I did not know any better
ignorance: no action taken, because I knew, but I did not do

amorality: no action taken, because I knew, but did not care to do

sanity: no action taken, as it is neither possible nor necessary
serenity: no action taken, as it is neither required nor desired
serendipity: no action taken, as it is neither sane nor serene

With these definitions and distinctions in mind, one is better placed to assess and apply the algorithm that follows to moments of resistance in life, love, or work, so as to realize a more satisfying and fulfilling flow with and through the carefully cultivated illusions of space and time …

if

i realize that I resist this moment

then

i acknowledge and accept this moment

and

i open to receive this moment

and

i release this moment

or

i release and respond to this moment

else

i persist to resist this moment

All the while keeping in mind the following obiter dictum, serving to complement the more positive notion that “opportunity favors the prepared mind,” which can only lend more support to serendipity in view of sanity and serenity: prior planning prevents piss poor performance.

All of these formalisms (i.e., definitions, distinctions, algorithms, and aphorisms), however, are no substitute for the real deal of tapping and tuning the heart of soul to the creation (to your creation, to your version of this world, and to my creation, to my version of this world).

Theoretically, anyone or anything in my version of this world that I might be inclined to resist (or resist outright), and that I do not like for one reason or another (or for no apparent reason at all), can, potentially at least, be met sanely with equanimity, buoyancy, or serenity.

In my experience, I have come to realize that almost any provocation can be met with equanimity; almost any temptation can be met with buoyancy; and almost any obligation can be met with serenity, but what is the secret that almost ensures contentment and fulfillment?

In light of what I’ve written about the nature and meaning of sanity, serenity, and serendipity, the answer might surprise you, but before I can reveal this little secret, allow me now to set a context of inquiry and discovery into what I would call “the human evolutionary imperative.”

The three main evolutionary imperatives are as follows …

1) security
2) satisfaction; and
3) significance

We all wanna feel secure; we all wanna feel satisfied; we all wanna feel significant. No argument here, unless you’re from another realm of experience (don’t get me wrong, I am willing to concede this).

These feelings (and they are feelings, not emotions) are deeply embedded and entwined in the human psyche, and they all serve to point, believe it or not, to sanity, serenity, and serendipity, respectively ~ that is, to being sane, serene, and serendipitous, respectively.

Now if I know anything about feelings, it is this: they arise unbidden. They cannot be commanded into existence. If I feel secure, I feel secure. If I don’t feel secure, I cannot command myself to feel secure. Likewise with feeling satisfied or significant, I cannot compel myself to feel.

I can, however, release strong feelings of insecurity, dissatisfaction, or insignificance with tried and true methods (like the Sedona Method, among others), but I do so with the intention of restoring a calm, clear focus, while noting that I feel insecure, dissatisfied, or insignificant.

If I feel insecure, or dissatisfied, or insignificant, I am being given a valuable clue to my relationship between me and the interface that is my current state of reality, a clue that I cannot ignore, dismiss, avoid, bypass, suppress, repress, or evade for long without consequence.

In light of this detour through the imperatives, let me spill the secret sauce …

This juicy little secret is easy to convey, not so easy to contain, for it cannot be taught; it can only be caught. This is not a secret that I can learn, but only a secret that I can catch, not like catching a cold, more like catching love and wisdom after many years of patient culling.

In light of this preamble, allow me now to share this little secret, which is simply this: contentment and fulfillment are almost assuredly mine, but only after I have patiently and wisely upgraded my evolutionary imperatives for security, satisfaction, and significance to the status of preferences.

That’s it. That’s the secret. In other words, contentment and fulfillment are almost assuredly mine to be enjoyed when I am no longer attached or addicted to being or feeling secure, satisfied, and significant.

I can now prefer to feel secure; I can now prefer to feel satisfied; I can now prefer to feel significant; but … if I feel none of these, or worse, if I feel their opposites ~ insecure, dissatisfied, insignificant ~ I still won’t be compelled to blame anyone or anything for their lack or loss.

This evolutionary up-leveling process can only happen when the emotional patterns that compel and propel blaming and shaming “the other” can be shifted into the stark and sudden realization that these evolutionary imperatives have caused much if not most needless suffering.

Shift happens, and we are the only ones who can make this shift happen; we are the only ones who can re-pattern the patterns, who can stay the course on this spiritual path of growth in consciousness from within, not without; this process of growth is very much an inside job.

Here are a dozen clues to indicate that we’re doing a good job:

Awareness

1) I am now aware of the evolutionary imperatives to be and feel secure, satisfied, and significant, that compel and propel me to blame and shame the other, undermining my equanimity, buoyancy, and serenity, and depriving me of peace, love, joy, bliss, grace, and ease

2) I can now see how these imperatives generate and perpetuate the illusions of this world

3) I welcome the opportunity (even if painful or distressing) to remain aware, moment to moment, of the authentic, automatic nature of those patterns that perpetuate these imperatives to generate my illusions

Relationship

1) I have all that I need to enjoy my here and now, unless … I persist in allowing my awareness to be governed by expectations and demands generated by the now deceased past or the imagined future

2) I am willing to be responsible for my experience, for I realize now that it is my own programming, put in place from within and without, that generates and perpetuates my actions and reactions, directly or indirectly affecting, for good or ill, every one of my relationships

3) I can now accept who and what I am, choosing to experience with others all that I think and feel, say and do, as a necessary precursor to fostering my learning and growth into higher consciousness

Curiosity

1) I stay curious about those who would come into my realm of experience, sharing my feelings where necessary or appropriate, to move with more grace and ease through the illusion of separation

2) I stay curious about the difficulties encountered by others without getting caught up in their predicaments, predicaments that give messages they need to find and follow a path of spiritual growth

3) I stay curious about my emotions without reacting and indulging (wherever whenever possible) from a contracted space of emotional upset, so as to retain and maintain the wisdom I need to act

Story

1) I remain aware of which reservoirs of consciousness I am tapping, allowing the energies of peace and love to expand as I clear, access, and apply these reservoirs in fair and balanced ways

2) I stay calm and clear in my heart to perceive and receive the finer, higher, denser energies that enlighten and empower my faith and will to share good story with those ready and willing to listen

3) I remain open to watching others awaken from a bad dream, who are here to claim the birthright to evolve and ascend to higher planes of consciousness for the sake of love in light of wisdom

Our saving grace: this is less about perfection, more about intention.

We need not be perfect, we need not resolve every problem before us (or within us); we merely need to be aware of our options, to be aware that we do have options (or not), and to be aware that choosing among our options in service to self or others is very much the point.

I would suggest reading, if you haven’t already, my post entitled Let’s Be Clear About Service.

So Where Do I Go From Here?

This is a question we often ask ourselves at a crossroads.

Where do I go from here? Beyond this moment? Speaking for myself, I do not know. In replacing “then” with “now, here,” there are no more yesterdays and no more tomorrows. There isn’t even a today. And is this not the point? That is, the point in time when I say … “yes”?

Yes to this, yes to that. Yes to this moment, yes to that moment.

Yes to this agreeable moment, yes to this disagreeable moment.

Be still; tap your stillpoint: dwell in peace, with this very moment.

There is no “from here,” there’s only “here” and “here,” and here.

Sane, serene, and serendipitous, “be, here, now” … just for now.

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Related Posts

Personal Fulfillment

The Ultimate Choice

The Art of Surrender

The Bare Essentials

Serenity, Tranquility

Life: A Play or A Game?

On Being a True Submissive

Submissive, Transmissive

In Favor of a Light Touch

On the Way to Serendipity

Serenity, Serendipity, Ecstasy

The Fine Art of Doing Nothing

Along the Pathless Path

A Cat on the Edge of a Ledge

The Way of Huna Wisdom

For the Love of Holy Shit

What Really, Truly Matters

Living a Stupid Simple Life

Note: this list is representative, but by no means comprehensive

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fulfillment is no illusion;
much more than a product,
it’s a prospect, a process

~ yours

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