Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson


I constantly amaze myself how I can steal unhappiness from the jaws of bliss. It takes quite a bit of effort at times to make myself unhappy. However, because I am so clever, I can do it even when there is absolutely no reason to be unhappy. I realize that it is a learned trait, developed over 50+ years of training, and hard to change. I am encouraged that I realize this, because what I am aware of can change. However, it takes quite a bit of courage and honesty to admit this to myself, especially when I convince myself I am right.

At this moment, I am cruising at 35,000 feet on an Embrauer Jet from Atlanta to New York City. For anyone that has done a sufficient enough traveling, an Embrauer Jet is a smaller jet for regional flights. The overhead bins are much smaller than larger jets most people are used to. As a result, many travelers are disappointed and frustrated that the carryon luggage they expected to have with them will not fit in the Embrauer cabin and must be gate checked.

As we were boarding, one woman insisted that her carryon bag should go with her into the cabin. The stewardess kept telling her it would not fit in the overhead bins, and that she would have to gate check the bag. However, due to a bad experience the woman had on a previous flight that lost her bag, she refused to gate check the bag. As a result, there was an impasse, a Mexican standoff of sorts. We could not leave the gate until she gave up her bag, which she was unwilling to do.

Ultimately she simply ignored the stewardess and sat in her seat with her bag under her feet. Her knees were beside her ears, and she had a look of ultimate angry victory. The stewardess simply rolled her eyes and let her be, even though having a passenger in this position violated air safety regulations.

As I watched all of this melodrama unfold, the first thought that went through my mind was the teaching that I create my own reality. So I contemplated why I would create this bit of melodrama to start off my day. It was not long before I realized that this was totally symbolic of how my clever mind held on to all of its illusions and judgments. I immediately became grateful for the image I would now have of this woman in misery feeling that she had won an important battle.

I recently had an experience that I was not invited to an event I felt I had every right to attend. I experienced feelings of rejection and abandonment for a few hours, and finally let it go. However, even if it was only temporary, I made myself miserable with my mind’s feeling of entitlement and expectation. Just like the woman and her bags, I held on to the idea that I was right and the world was wrong.

After all of the self-analysis and meditation I have done I continue to amaze myself with the seeds of misery I continue to find in my consciousness. I know that enlightenment is a continuous process of discovery and detachment, and I am really grateful to this woman who modeled for me how my mind behaves sometimes. I am smiling at the fact that enlightenment comes in such comical messages.

Whenever I have one of these enlightening moments, I return to my original state of grace and happiness. I realize that whatever unpleasantness I experienced with the illusion that I was abandoned or rejected has passed never to return again. That in and of itself is cause for happiness.  So I sit with a smile on my face, determined that I will be able to maintain my happiness despite my clever mind. This would be true enlightenment.

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