The gift of okayness

feldemoves mindfulness, self-compassion April 18, 2023 Leave a reply

Have you ever thought I should be feeling happier in my life? Perhaps you have been plagued by the sensation of feeling flat for a few days? Have you got a tendency to keep busy, or do you ensure there are things in your life to look forward to?

All of us have to manage our mental health to some degree. Whether it is through exercise, diet, sleep or talking to loved ones. Seeking professional help is essential if your mood is impacting on your ability to function in everyday life.

The positive thinking and gratitude movement has been around for a few decades. In fact the happiness and positive thinking industry is estimated to be worth US $11 billion a year.

I suspect most of us have found positive thinking and gratitude practice helpful at times because we do have a tendency in our society to ask, “What is wrong?” rather than, “What is right?” Shifting our focus to what is going well can change our thinking for the better, which can also shift our mood.

Do you remember when positive affirmations became popular in the New Age movement? Saying affirmations like “My life is perfect in every way!” felt like I was trying to con myself.

Some people can find gratitude practice difficult too. There are aspects of life that do make us sad and angry and sometimes no amount of gratitude practice will remove these feelings. Pushing ourselves to be grateful or positive could be a type of suppression of our our problems which can lead to more distress (Psychology Today)

It can be a slippery slope making happiness your number one goal in life. Yet the happiness and positive thinking industry helps perpetuate the fantasy that happiness is a realistic goal (Euba:2019)

Most of us know, perhaps painfully, that happiness is a transient state. Some experts say there is no neurological basis for happiness in the brain because it is a`human construct’ and even less dependable than depression for helping us to survive. Depression encourages caution and rumination that is biologically advantageous in dangerous times (Euba: 2019)

Despite this, most of us still aspire to be happy most of the time. Of course we do because it feels so good.

I love the poem by William Blake on the transience of happiness:


“He who binds to himself to joy

Does the winged life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sun rise.”


Learning to accept what is, rather than what should be, is powerful. If you are anything like me you have probably spent a great deal of your life struggling with what is, rather than accepting it.

A few years ago during Covid, I received an online teaching by a Buddhist monk (I am sorry his name eludes me). He was talking about this idea of okayness. In other words, not aspiring for happiness and being satisfied with being okay. Is this sounding too beige and mediocre?

A few months ago I had been feeling a bit down for a few days and I was getting worried that something was wrong in my life. It was at that moment, I recalled the teaching on okayness. So I asked myself “Am I okay?”  And after a moment my answer came back, “Yes. I am okay.” I could feel the weighty striving for happiness float away and my heart swelled with the confidence that I would be alright.

Perhaps like you, I have had the habit of nudging myself to look on the positive side of life too much. It seems like something has been left out in the happiness and positive thinking movement. 11 million dollars is a good reason to perpetuate the happiness myth.

Being okay is empowering. It helps you to acknowledge the positive and negative aspects of your life. All expectations can drop away, even if it’s just momentarily.

Difficulties are part of life and if we can take a step back with a knowingness that despite the ups and downs we can find some equilibrium. When we accept that we are okay, maybe there is more room to kiss the joy as it flies.




Euba, Rafael, 2019. https://theconversation.com/hu…

The power of letting go

Most of us have an idea about how we want our lives to go but when things are not going to plan, finding acceptance can be difficult. If we are making new plans, it can be like stepping out onto a precipice. Moving out of our comfort zone is bound to bring up some fears and uncertainty. 


We all need a feeling of security, familiarity and safety in our lives. But could a time come where familiarity and security become a habit so firmly entrenched that it becomes difficult to move somewhere different in our lives and we start to feel stuck?


It’s not easy to see how much we try to control our lives and the people around us. Most of us feel more comfortable when outer circumstances fit our view of the world. There certainly are behaviors that will increase the likelihood of our lives going to plan such as eating well, caring for others, being driven and organised in carving out your life. Still how many times have we seen our lives and others lives, descending into chaos due to unexpected illness or loss of loved ones, or a job.


Letting go is something we are strongly encouraged to practise because of world-wide events. The world around us is certainly changing. Technology is advancing at a pace in which many people and our environment cannot keep up with. Our world-altering health pandemics have irreversibly changed our way of life. It is a harsh truth that we don't know what turn our lives are going to take. We can increase the probability of a good life and security but it's no guarantee.  From my own experience grieving is like a slow process of letting go of a loved one that has passed away. So we may be forced to let go through a process of grieving or we can practise letting go, giving up control and creating space a little each day. 


Letting go of our expectations of how things should be can make the changes in our lives easier to cope with. We can fearfully cling to the past, security or fixed ideas or we can be open to new possibilities. I love the idea of learning to step back, create space for others, as some people might say getting out of our own way. Stephen Nachmanovitch is an improviser who wrote the book ‘The art of is: improvising as a way of life’. He describes the process of ‘stepping-back and creating space’ in movement and musical improvisation as analogous to how we teach ourselves as individuals and as partners in relationships to be human beings. He observes that wonderful things happen in the creative space when he as a teacher nurtures rather than leads or controls.


Beta brain waves range from 13-40 HZ and are associated with everyday activity. Beta brain wave frequencies in the highest range are associated with the stress that is endemic in our world.  Wanting to be in control is more likely to create stress and many believe control of the outside world is impossible anyway.


In contrast, mindfulness meditation has been linked to lower-frequency alpha waves in a study by Cahn and Polich in 2006. Alpha brain waves range from 8-12 HZ are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts, rest, calmness, mind/body integration and learning (Brainwaves Neurotherapy). Methods such as `Awareness through movement’ in Feldenkrais produce similar alpha states which help improve the mind and body connection and learning. 


Isla Klasing was a CEO of KFC in Germany in 2016 who struggled significantly after a horse-riding accident.  During her long recovery she had no choice but to give up some control in her life, and not without difficulty. She describes how rather than suffering, her team blossomed, which increased KFCs’ marketplace success significantly. Klasing said learning the power of letting go also made her happier in her personal life.

According to Klasing, the power of letting go has three parts. First, trusting that benefits can come from letting go, secondly, switching off our phone/digital-detox gives us the freedom to let go of the outside world and third, adopting breathing / mindfulness techniques) to quieten your busy mind.


We have all had the experience of having change forced upon us and the discomfort it can bring. Twelve years ago I was separating from my first husband. It was December and some girlfriends and I were camping on the North-East Coast of Tasmania. One morning I woke up early and decided to have a short meditation in the bush. As I sat there I was looking up at a tree nearby. I noticed this tree had a branch that was falling away. It was a difficult time emotionally, so I could see myself in the broken, messed-up branch. I can still remember the image of that branch. 


Then I noticed the tree as a whole and could see its potential and beauty. I could see my life journey as being like the trees’ journey. Even though it was a time of upheaval I would keep growing, and have new branches. The scar of that broken branch could heal over. It was the beginning of my ability to let go of my marriage and know that my identity and value extended beyond the life I knew at the time. My ex-husband and I are amicable to this day.


So letting go is tied to renewal, knowing we can move beyond our perceptions about the life and our identity we are holding now.  Plus we might be surprised by the future.