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The Secret to Making Your Life Happy – What Boa Constrictors, Kids and the Wizard of Oz Can Teach Us

It’s a holiday where we can all pretend without recrimination or judgment, even as adults. How fun is that? I am of course speaking about Halloween. Recently I found myself happily in the thick of it at a really cool Halloween party amongst some pretty dramatic costumes; from Dracula to drag queen, it was the mother lode of creativity!

It was there that I realized the ‘secret to making everything happy’.

Amidst the glitterati and gore, I spied a couple who appeared rather ‘normal’ in their costumes. He was wearing what I considered a purposefully banal tie, a business suit, wingtips and horn rimmed glasses. She was wearing an office suit and ‘kitten heel’ shoes with pulled back hair in a bun. Nothing special, in fact, both outfits screamed “mainstream work America”.

What was odd, to say the least, was that her neck sported a plastic collar molded to look like a metal yoke. It had a plastic ‘metal’ chain which was attached to her partner’s hand in the form of a handcuff. Yeah, I would say that’s pretty unusual and my mind went wandering/wondering about what this couple’s story was.

So, I asked about their ‘get up’. He was her boss/employer and she was the tethered, unhappy employee who has no security except for the chain. Pressing more, I learned she actually had just recently lost her job, no pretending, and all the while she was working at that position she felt ‘shackled’. She dreamed up the costume to make a statement.

After speaking with her for some time (she was able to unshackle herself from her husband who happily went off to find the punch), I learned she blamed her job loss on the economy. I naturally assumed she would be elated at the loss of her job based on her negative feelings. I wasn’t prepared for her response.

She said she felt employers are cutting the “meat” part of their staff (her) and not the “fat” part (those who remain employed). They are ridding key hire expenses because they fear the uncertain economy.  So now she felt her next position will only result in the same employer/employee imprisonment, with the final result of simply being ‘cut loose’ again; without her having any control or say over the situation.

While her work costume was paradoxical to her real unemployment it aptly represented her sad, ‘no way out’ mindset.

My new ‘kitten-heeled’ friend had it correct on one account; fear is the driver of most negative outcomes. After all, she is no different. Her belief that she cannot and will not get a decent, secure job is also driven by her fears too. It was obvious she had thoroughly created this phantom fearful future based on her recent experience. Or was it just that?

Here are a couple of things you should know to manage the fear and feeling of helplessness:

  • All fear is rooted in feeling powerless

Do you recall how you felt as a child when you had no control over your life? You may have forgotten that at every waking hour of being a child you intrinsically KNEW someone else was in charge and that at any moment you could experience something unpleasant. Your parents may ‘go away’, or you could get horribly lost. This was visceral and real to us as children, so at times we were fearful and this fearful feeling can stay with us through to adulthood and is often accompanied by anger.

As adults this fear/anger can be expressed through recurring themes in our daily situations. What often results is poor behavior reinforcing irrational mindsets because we don’t believe we have control of our lives. Here’s a good example: I often ask myself why I am so perturbed when cut-off in traffic? What is that makes me so upset and angry? It’s certainly irrational and out of scale to the ‘crime’.

It’s because that situation causes me to harken back to those old feelings of not having power over my personal space and direction! But, by not reacting and observing the situation I may simply feel embarrassed as I pass the person just to see they  made a human error, or – God forbid – they are driving the proper speed limit! Even if they pulled in front of me ‘on purpose’, isn’t it silly to react? Maybe you’ve done this too? You get the idea.

  • Build Awareness

The good news is that the belief in our being powerless is simply not true. You always have the power over everything you do; you just may not know it or you don’t believe it to be true.  To fix that, observe your fears and know they are rooted in your past, reinforced again and again by life situations. Gary Zukav makes this point elegantly in his “Seat of the Soul”.

Sadly, we have this nagging memory of helplessness that is triggered whenever we have something negative happen to us – totally bypassing our own accountability and control to make it better! Knowing that we create incorrect scenarios based on old mindsets builds awareness and it’s half the battle.

The next part is to ‘let it go’- Really.

  • Don’t subjugate yourself to your fears

Notice the senselessness of fighting something that’s not there. Remember, you DO have the power over your own life. Like my new friend, we may give our authentic personal power away to our negative or obsessively racing thoughts, or to our (mis)belief that change is never something good.

If we do, we are subjugating ourselves.

For example: have you ever seen the phenomenon of how a boa constrictor snake kills its’ prey? Their prey dies only when it struggles. The more they struggle, the faster they suffocate because it is the struggle that signals to this glorious survival machine, to squeeze tighter. The mouse fights to be set free and the opposite happens.

Do you struggle? If only the ‘mouse in the muscle’ would stop struggling, the ‘boa’ would let go to allow you to live another day. Stop struggling. Look at the racing thoughts, the angry behaviors, the negative mindsets. Recognize them as not being real and you will be set free.  My new friend can release her irrational belief of subjugation by recognizing it’s only her fear that controls her life, NOT the economy or her boss.

It sounds overly simple and it really is. Don’t make the simple complex otherwise you continue to give away your personal power to fear.

  • Repeat your new awareness and beliefs and follow up with “inaction”

Repeat observing your thoughts, not struggling, letting it all go as often as new opportunities arise. Take a moment before that chain reaction occurs in your brain and your nervous system takes control over your own destiny, your life. Think and be quietly in charge and ‘let it go’ (before you curse that poor person in the car in front of you).  

Do nothing when you are poked; just know it for what it is – your fears which are not based in reality.

If you succeed in this, you can experience ‘making everything good’ because you no longer see things as being ‘bad’.  Suddenly, life IS good.

You have the control; look down, don’t you see your ‘ruby slippers’? Remember that feeling you had as a child when Glinda, the good witch in the Wizard of Oz explained to Dorothy: “But you always had the way to go home.” That feeling of awe that came over you the first time you saw this erudite, classic moment should come over you now in realizing the same truism: you always have the personal power to change or control your life.

Go find it, get it and it will change your life.

Make your own ‘Wizard of Oz’ story come true with authentic personal power. I have read several good books on this topic which may help you on this pathway. Then, no matter what happens in your work or home life, it will be a good situation because you will make it so.

That’s the secret.


Question: How is it with you? Does this make sense? What else can you do to not be controlled by phantoms?

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