Evan Bortnick http://musa-vocalis.de/
I’m definitely not the first to wonder why our founding fathers chose “Life, Liberty and the “PURSUIT” of Happiness” as a motto. Why not “Life, Happiness and the Pursuit of Liberty? They of all people knew that liberty was not a given. Or even “Happiness, Liberty and the Pursuit of Life”. Any of us who’ve ever thought or said “GET A LIFE” know how viable that one is!
The idea of ‘pursuing’ happiness implies that we must *DO* something in order to *BE* happy. I admit that this might not be what our founding fathers meant, but I have seen enough people who understand it this way to make the implication worthy of consideration. In other words, we must do something, go through some ‘pursuit’ before we can reward ourselves with ‘happiness’. If any of you have ANYTHING similar to this equation, I invite you to consciously reconsider it. Wouldn’t it be ironic to find that the equation itself is a recipe for unhappiness?!? That’s been my experience. The idea that something must be achieved AND THEN you can feel happy (or joyful, or fulfilled, or good, or OK) is a self-constructed hamster wheel.
I experienced this with great force in a “Perfomance Training” seminar I gave recently. There was a young and very talented pianist who was obviously quite tense and agitated before she began playing. Her interpretation of this tension was so negative that it increased the tension. After the piece was over her internal state was quite different and, of course, so was her interpretation of her state. I asked her to play again, maintaining this state. Predictably, the rendition was much more flowing, musical, technically precise and emotionally transparent. When I asked if she thought it was possible to begin auditions or concerts in a similar state/interpretation, she said she wouldn’t want to. When I asked why, she said because she hadn’t done anything to deserve it— it wouldn’t be ‘right’ to feel this way. When I addressed the question to the group, at least half felt the same. Even if they were convinced that having the great feelings they were having AFTER a concert would enable them to play better BEFORE a concert, they were still convinced they had to earn it first!
How many of us do this? Put ourselves under more stress than is necessary in the pursuit of happiness. There are significant advantages to reversing this? In other words, load the state into our system in advance and then do whatever it is we do. Research and experience have shown without a doubt that we perform better in such states. For those who love procedures, here’s one:
- Think of an activity the achievement of which brings you happiness, joy, bliss, satisfaction, ok-ness.
- Imagine having achieved it.
- Isolate, Identify and Intensify any and all body sensations which signal the super-positive state.
- Find an anchor or a trigger for this combination of sensations— a word, a picture, a symbol, a mudra, a sentence, a pressure point, a gesture, etc., etc. or any combination of the above and more.
- Repeat the trigger until it’s automatic.
- Strengthen the repetition over the next hours, days and weeks.
- Apply generously in any and all situations in which going into “FLOW” will increase your performance skills IN ADVANCE.
- Allow this to convince you without a doubt that “Doing” and “Being” are optimally and contextually separable.
This is just what I did with the young musicians. Of course when we do something we love (or to get something we REALLY want) our sympathetic nervous systems get triggered. You’re never going to sing, or play or speak under pressure and feel meditatively relaxed. That’s not the point. The point is finding your own optimum state for the task at hand. Your audience will thank you and your body will thank you.
Evan Bortnick http://musa-vocalis.de/