Where is the room for happiness in this kind of world?

I woke up this morning feeling content, for a moment, before my mind suggested it's entirely inappropriate to feel content—not when terrorists are killing people everyday somewhere, not when children are being sold and used as property, not when Donald Trump might become our president, not when our world is figuratively and literally (according to the temperature reports) burning up.

Where is the room for happiness in this kind of world?

About fifteen years ago, my partner (at the time) and I moved from NYC to LA. He'd sold his beautiful loft apartment in the city and made a chunk of money from doing so. When we arrived in LA, one of the first things we did was go car shopping. He bought both of us brand new BMWs, in cash. Mine was a black convertible with a dark tan interior. It was beautiful, unlike any car I'd ever owned.

In the next couple of days, along with the new car, my partner paid off my credit card debt, which was the equivalent of buying another BMW. I had used my credit cards freely in those days. Well, not freely. There was a price. I'd dug myself into a hole of debt and struggled just to make the interest payment every month.

So here I was, within a few days, with a brand new car and zero debt. Just like that. As though I'd rubbed a magic lamp and put a genie to work. No car payment! Zero debt! An amazing partner! These gifts were huge. I was the luckiest guy in the world.

But the thing I remember most about that week is how unhappy I felt during it. Not because of the gifts, but in spite of them. I had been feeling down during that time, sad and lost, without a connection to purpose. And the gifts, which were so generous, and for which I was entirely grateful, made absolutely no difference to my state of being. They played no role in my happiness, or lack thereof. How could they? My happiness can only be and has always ever been within me, no matter what else is happening on the outside.

We know this to be true, that "happiness is an inside job" and "money can't buy happiness" and "insert your own happiness platitude here." There's a difference, however, between knowing things and understanding them. After being showered with gifts and still feeling unhappy and lost, I understood something about happiness that I'd always known: it's not to be found in stuff or circumstances. You can have very little in the way of material things and still feel deeply content, just as you can have a life of riches and be deeply miserable. You can be surrounded by love, yet lonely and unhappy, or spend your days alone and content with peace in your heart.

Everything is possible where happiness is concerned, and none of it lives outside of ourselves.

When I woke up this morning, feeling content, and then feeling uneasy about being content in our too-dark world, I thought of my BMW and my paid-off credit card debt. I remembered one lesson I learned so clearly that week: Your happiness and peace of mind are not a given, no matter the circumstances.

To that, I would add: Your unhappiness and instability are also not a given, no matter the circumstances.

I'm afraid of plenty in our world. Heartbroken over much more. Yet I know it's possible, still, to be at peace, even to be content, at least some of the time. Not because the world suddenly becomes safe and united, or that I suddenly become unafraid, but because I know the peace that lives within me, at my core, is a peace that can never be touched by anything going on in our world, or in my head. That peace is not something I've developed or earned. It's always been there, and will always be there. A birthright. It's beyond our world, beyond my fears. It's my home, whenever I want to visit. Just as your inner peace is your home, too.

Our peace and happiness ultimately depends on nothing but our willingness to be present within them, and to understand that the world around us will always be crazy and violent and overwhelming and beautiful and exciting and boring and united and divided and whatever else it is, and we can still be healthy and okay within it all—not because of the outside world, but in spite of it.

Being peaceful is not the same thing as being silent. There are too many injustices in our world, too many marginalized populations, too much pain to be silent anymore. What in our world is breaking your heart right now? Are you making noise about it? Are you acting on its behalf? My answer to myself: not enough. There's already too much noise for darkness. The light needs our voices, too. The light needs our passion. Our brothers and sisters—and children—suffering all over the world need our energy, our action and our love. Who can focus on peace and happiness when you're living in constant fear of violence or death or starvation each day?

Those of us able to browse through our social media accounts without worrying about the next bomb or our next meal are lucky indeed. Beyond lucky.

That doesn't mean we have to be miserable because so much misery exists, or that we have to feel guilty in those moments when we're actually content. True joy can't hurt our world. It can only help it. Any peace we bring to the change we're trying to create only adds more peace to the planet. Peace is a part of us. Just like love. We can ignore it, or we can choose it.

Where is the room for happiness in this kind of world?

It is within us, as it's always been and will always be. It's not likely to be inspired by more stuff, or a bigger social media circle, or endless fun things to do. All of this rarely leads to happiness. Where do I find meaning in my life? How can I be of service to those in need? How can I connect more honestly with others? What do I love to do? I've found these to be good questions that help lead me down the path to peace, and to happiness. A good starting point on the journey home.

In love and solidarity...

And today, we grieve again.

And today, we grieve again, for Dallas, and for our nation. How many times can a heart break? The only solace I take in a tragedy like this is knowing our whole country cries together, that within all of the anger and blame and division, our humanity unites us against these acts, and, together, we grieve.

All I can think to do right now is pray.

I pray for the families and friends of Brent Thompson, as well as the four other officers who were killed in Dallas last night, whose names we still don’t know. I pray for the complete recovery of the seven other officers and two civilians who were injured in the shootings.

I pray for the families and friends of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

I pray for the families and friends of those who have died, in America and countries all over the world, due to violence at the hands of their fellow human beings.

I pray that the tragic events we’re experiencing, in our country and worldwide, will ultimately unite, rather than divide us, so they we may come together as one people, one family, one human race.

I pray for deeper peace, in each of us, so that violence and murder will no longer make itself known to the weakness of our minds.

I pray for deeper understanding, in each of us, so that we may disagree with one another without being hurtful and hateful in the way we communicate.

I pray for deeper empathy, in each of us, so that we may recognize our own pain in the pain of others and treat all of our brothers and sisters with compassion and respect.

I pray for the courage and clarity to look within, to examine the ways in which I might be contributing to separation rather than unity, and to realign myself with the intention of kindness, compassion and love.

I pray for all those whose hearts have been hardened and who see violence as an answer, that they will allow love to enter their beings and pull them from the call of violence to the call of peace.

I pray for all of us, who are hurting and afraid and confused, that we may center ourselves in the ever-present light within us and share that light as selflessly as possible.

I pray for our country, and for our planet, that together we create a world that reflects the best in humanity, that together we rise to the understanding that we are beings of love, and that love is our greatest hope for changing our reality, and for healing ourselves.

I love this community. You’re an important part of my life, and a continuous source of happiness, support and inspiration. I pray we never stop loving, ourselves and one another.

If you're moved to do so, please add your own prayer below.

In Love and Solidarity…

Another tragedy for us all.

I've been staring at my computer for over an hour, trying to figure out something to say about Alton Sterling's murder. It's not the first video to show police using inexcusable force and ultimately murdering a black man, but those gunshots—at point blank range—make this stand out, somehow. Of course, it doesn't stand out. It's happening all the time. And people wonder why our black brothers and sisters feel angry, afraid and marginalized, in their cars, on their streets, in their own country.

Police brutality—especially against people of color—is a serious, deadly problem. Is that really up for debate, still? How many statistics, how many videos do we all need to see before we acknowledge something that exists? It should be enough that the entire black community has been telling us for years what's going on. We shouldn't need videos, but now we have them, so let's learn from them.

I don't know anything about anything when it comes to policing the streets, but I know I watched Alton Sterling get murdered in that video, by two police officers. I know there are countless decent police officers in our country, and I wish more of them would stand up and speak out against the brutality that we're seeing so often, and is happening so much more often than we even see. Every profession has those who abuse their power and do a disservice to the profession on the whole. It is not an attack on all police to call out certain officers who have proven themselves to be racist or excessively violent. It’s the only decent thing to do. Another man is dead for no reason, well, other than he was a black man, which is reason enough, too often.

And I don't care about Alton Sterling's record before his death. His past had nothing to do with him being killed, nor did it warrant his execution. All efforts to make him look somehow deserving of his fate only make the system—media included—look desperate and heartless. His death is a tragedy, for us all.

For those who still resist the Black Lives Matter call, watch the video of Alton Sterling being killed. Black Lives Matter activists have never been suggesting that their lives matter more than anyone else's, only that their lives matter as much as everyone else's. And in America, they still don't, not really, not yet. Another tragedy for us all.

I pray this heartbreaking video and gruesome crime generates a newfound awareness and a deeper call to action in all of us to continue to press for equality among all people in our country, not just in the rights we have, but in the way we're treated.

To the African-American community, for whom this tragedy affects most profoundly, and especially to the family of Alton Sterling, I am with you, in grief, in love, and in solidarity.

From writer to love-spreader.

My Facebook page used to say: Scott Stabile, Writer.

It didn't feel accurate. I like to write, sure. But I'm not, and have never been, a writer who couldn't imagine ever writing again, whose life would be without meaning if I didn't write. I've sort of pretended that was the case at times in my past, because it felt passionate and deep, but that's not really my truth.

I wanted that to be my truth. I wanted writing to be more of a passion than it is. My heart's number one calling. I so envied those writers who lived to write, who needed to write to feel whole. I envied anyone who had found something they lived to do (but especially the artists, especially the writers). I used to feel less than because I hadn't.

Of course there is no greater than or less than as far as our passions are concerned, or even as far as connecting to any passion at all. We are who we are. We do what we do.

So I changed the title of my FB page recently, from Writer to Public Figure. Public Figure is the broadest of the choices FB gives, though it felt a little too fancy at first. Look at me, I'm a public figure. A figure of the public. What does that mean anyway? Anything I want it to, apparently, which is why I like it.

The whole Writer/Public Figure thing got me thinking about labels, the ones others give us and the ones we give ourselves. It got me thinking about how restrictive labels are, as well as often being completely untrue.

How have you restricted yourself by the labels others have given you? How are you restricting yourself right now by the labels you're giving yourself? Are they even true? Isn't there so much more to you than all of these labels?

Clinging to the identity of writer helped me feel like I was someone, like I had something tangible to offer, a response to the question "What do you do?"

But the writing is secondary. It's an avenue for doing the thing I've come to discover I'm really here to do: SPREAD LOVE. That's it (at least right now). It's funny (crazy) to me that I spent so much of my adult life not seeing that as something tangible. Of course, Love-spreader gets funny looks as a response to "What do you do?"

I used to ask myself the questions "Who Am I?" and "What's my purpose?" Always in search of my destiny...which is a totally pointless, paralyzing search, by the way. Aren't we continuously living our destiny or it wouldn't be happening at all? I got to the point where I finally said destiny schmestiny: just love, and you'll be fine.

Now I ask myself questions like these:

What do I love to do?
Where do I love to put my energy?
What things bring me joy?
How can I bring joy to others?
What creative avenues would I love to explore?
What am I curious about?

The answers to these questions lead us places unbounded by the labels we've gotten or given to ourselves. If we follow our answers with action, and exploration, we're certain to find we are many different and wonderful things.

The more we venture into the unknown, and stretch beyond our comfort zones, and follow the whisperings of our heart, the more wonder we awaken to in our world, and the more wonder we create, as well. It's a serious WIN WIN.

Don't get me wrong, I really like to write. Even love it at times. But it's never been the whole of who I am. It's something I like to do. It's one more way to connect with people through love, and I'm incredibly grateful for that.

What about you? What labels do you feel like letting go of?

There's no better time than the present...

This _____ is not gonna _____ itself.

I'm working on a new book, and each day I come up with a lot of things to distract me from the work...from the writing. So I have this new statement I keep repeating to myself: Your book will not get written unless you write it.

Now that's obvious, of course. The only way the book I'm going to write will get written is if I write it. Duh. But for some reason, this reminder is working for me right now.

And it's the case with EVERYTHING we want to do—it's not gonna get done unless we do it. The yoga's not going to do itself. The new job's not going to find itself. The house is not going to clean itself. The meditation's not gonna om itself.

The _____ is not going to _____ itself. 
(I'm sure you can think of twenty or a thousand things to put in those blanks.)

We have to do the things we want to do, or they'll stay undone. Double Duh.

I want to write this book. I've written some chapters and I like what's coming through me. Yes, I'm terrified it's going to suck, and yes, I'm terrified I'll never finish it (because it sucks), but greater than both those terrors is my desire (at least I think it's greater) to write this book. As we've established, it won't get written otherwise.

The cool thing is, I'm the only one who can write this book. I'm the only one who can do my yoga. It's kind of empowering when you look at it that way. You're the only one who can do your whatever it is you keep putting off doing.

So let's all just start doing these things we want to do, or need to do. Let's quit putting them off, out of fear or insecurity or laziness or House of Cards marathons.

Let's start getting shit done. Then getting more shit done. Because we want to do it. And because we're the only ones who can.

You with me?

Addiction, recovery, forgiveness & love.

I was interviewed for a wonderful podcast called HOME, which looks at the big questions in life through the lens of addiction recovery. My interview is up today.

I didn't realize it when we were recording the other night that today also happens to be the birthday of my brother Ricky, who died 21 years ago from a heroin overdose. He viewed his entire adult life through the lens of addiction, without much recovery.

It's easy to view alcohol and drug addicts, especially, as dirty or less than or somehow flawed. I used to feel that way about my brother. Now I'm clearer than ever there's no difference between any of us. Ricky was never less than me or anyone else. No one is less than or greater than anyone else. Our essence runs much deeper than our habits.

My brother succumbed to his addiction. It killed him before he could figure out a way to stay sober. To everyone out there in recovery, I applaud you. I applaud the brave choice you make, over and over each day, to live in your sobriety. You are all messengers of courage, of resilience, and of hope.

To everyone out there living in their addiction and considering recovery, I'd like to remind you that you have what it takes to become, and stay, sober. You are no less strong, no less courageous, no less anything than anyone else. You are a choice away from your sobriety. That choice is there for you right now. It is always there for you.

We're all working hard to make sense of this challenging task of being human. And we're all numbing and escaping our realities in different ways all the time. With drugs and alcohol, with TV and food, with social media and shopping. Everyone is addicted to something.

Let's continue to work hard at self-love and love of others. At compassion and kindness. At truth and forgiveness. Let's keep making choices that reflect our commitment to our happiness and well-being. Let's stay committed to creating for ourselves the kind of lives we won't feel the need to escape from. The kind of lives that have us naturally making healthier choices for ourselves and the world.

And through it all, let's stay connected to each other and remember that we are brothers and sisters. We are family.

I hope you'll give my interview a listen: http://bit.ly/1VDTvQV

Happy Birthday, Ricky, and BIG LOVE to you all.

We need to stand up and raise our voices.

Some people on this planet will continue to use violence and murder as a way to leave their mark. If only Brussels were the first time this has happened. If only it would be the last. But no. From terrorists to cartels to psychopaths, those who hurt and kill their fellow human beings are a dark, ever-present part of the human story. They're not going anywhere. And though their impact is profound and painful, it's important to remember that they will always be in the minority. Those of us energized by kindness and compassion will forever comprise the majority.

I'm scared by the unpredictable, murderous reality of terrorism and war throughout our world. As well as the oppression of too many cultures to name, the horror of adult and child sex trafficking, the fact that we're killing our planet at a stunning pace, and this list of heartbreaking realities goes on and on. It all terrifies me, regularly. And saddens me, even more often.

A part of me wants to curl up in my bed, under the covers, and remove myself from any connection to our world, wants nothing to do with this sick planet and all these sick fuckers who think it's okay to hurt and kill. That part of me is shaky and angry and real, and it's rooted in fear. That part perks up when stricter borders and walls and separation and drone strikes are talked about. It gets curious, too afraid to see other options for safety and survival.

There's another part of me, however, and it's bigger than the fearful one. Much bigger. It's rooted in love. This part understands that the only choice to make when confronted with the world's violence and insanity is to commit myself even more deeply to peace, and to compassion, and to love. This part understands that violence has always and will always beget more violence. The same goes for separation, and hate, and oppression. The same goes for everything. When will we fucking learn this lesson?

The way for us to feel less fearful is to be more active — in refusing to allow our minds to turn to prejudice, in reminding ourselves and each other that the great majority of humanity is loving and good, in excusing ourselves from conversations and habits that only serve to foster our fears, in making as much noise as we can for the power of love and compassion and connection.

We can't hide out in fear when we can stand up and be warriors for love. And we can, all of us, stand up and make some fucking noise for love. We don't only serve our world by doing so, we serve ourselves. We serve everyone and everything.

Love is service. It's the hardest choice. It's the scariest commitment to make, because it requires us to ignore all of our fearful instincts, and they are many in this scary world.

Our world needs our love, mine and yours, now more than ever. Our world needs us to remember why we're here — to connect with and love ourselves and each other. To take care of one another. To be each other's family.

Thoughts and prayers are important, but they're not enough. We need to stand up and raise our voices, as loudly as we can, for the power of love. This commitment will help us with our fear. More than anything else could.

In solidarity...I love you.

The pusher.

you get to a point when you just don’t want to be pushed anymore. pushed to pretend you’re okay with condescending behavior and disrespectful attitudes. pushed to ignore the determined yearnings of your clearest truth. pushed to engage in conversations and situations that in no way serve your state of peace. pushed to act a bogus part and clap for those who are acting theirs. pushed to be quiet and to stay small. pushed to exist rather than live. you get to a point when it’s all too much, too exhausting, too false. something must change. then you realize that the changes you crave have always been within your power to create. you realize that no one has the might to push you into anything when you are unwilling to be pushed. you realize that you, more effectively than any outside influence, have been your biggest pusher all along. so you stop—pushing and pretending and acting and shrinking. you stop it all, because you can. and you don’t waste too much time regretting that you didn’t do it sooner. you’re suddenly much too busy living your life for such silly regrets.

Let's be whatever many things our heart calls us to be.

We are all many things. Many many many things, in fact. Sometimes people get used to us being the one thing they most expect from us, and they don't know how to handle the other many things we are and have to offer. This is not our limitation to own.

Let's not allow others to tell us how to be, based on how they expect us to be, or how not to be, based on what they're not comfortable with us being. Again, not our limitation to own.

Let's be whatever many things our heart calls us to be. There's not a lot of consistency in freedom, aside from fluid movement among the many things we are. And that's a beautiful thing.

Happy Weekend, Friends. 


I choose gratitude.

Today, I choose not to take my life for granted.

I choose not to look upon the fact that I am healthy, have food in my refrigerator and have clean water to drink as givens. They are not givens for so many people in our world. The fact that I am safe and (relatively) sane are not givens. That I was born into a family who loves me and into a country not ravaged by war are not givens. It is impossible to name all of the circumstances in my life I've taken for granted. All of the basic needs I've had met, all of the friendships and job opportunities and financial blessings and the list, truly, is endless. The fact that I am breathing is a miracle, one I too rarely stop to appreciate.

I'm stopping, right now, to be grateful for everything I am and everything I've been given. I'm stopping, right now, to be grateful for every pleasure and every pain that has contributed to the me who sits here and writes these words.

I am thankful for my life. This moment is a blessing. Each breath a gift. That I've been able to take so much for granted is a gift, too. But it's not how I want to live—not when gratitude is an option, not when wonder and awe are choices.

I choose gratitude. I choose wonder. I choose awe. I choose everything that suggests I'm opening myself to the miraculous reality of simply being alive for one moment more.