You have a choice of being happy irrespective of your circumstances.
A friend called me this morning. She said she was grieving over her inability to convince her mother-in-law that she (my friend) is a dutiful daughter-in-law. My friend has been married into the family for over two decades now. She rues the fact that her husband too has been unable to talk “some sense” into his mother. “I feel worthless, stupid and wasted,” lamented my friend.
My friend’s case is yet another classic example of people trying to desperately control everything in Life that’s beyond their control. 20 years is a long time for someone to be married into a family. If she has not been accepted by her mother-in-law as a worthy daughter-in-law, why must she waste time trying to prove her goodness out there? Why crave for something that is not coming to her in the natural, normal, course?
This is the tragedy of our lives. We try, all the time, in vain, to control Life. We try to control people, events, relationships, careers…everything…and, quite simply, all these are beyond our control. And so we grieve. That’s why we suffer.
To be sure, you agonize in myriad ways over why you can’t get things under your control. Your child’s in her teens. And she has a mind of her own. You are unable to control why she’s on the phone, on Facebook, and aloof from all the household chores she used to help you with. You grieve. The person who you once loved deeply, married, and thought will be your companion for Life, is now estranged. You want to control him. But he’s moving further away. You are now wallowing in self-pity. You are just not able to understand why you are not finding a job. You are qualified, experienced, talented and intelligent. You have double degrees, but no job. So, you desperately try to control the situation. Offering to work for even half the salary you were drawing. But no. It just isn’t happening. You are devastated. You have always had a strict health regimen. And you now have an arthritic condition. You are unable to run your marathons. You want to, you try to…but you land up in a bigger mess with your back and knees. You are depressed.
You may resonate with some of these situations. Or you may have some other. The point is that each such instance reminds us that we can’t control Life. We can’t really control what’s happening to us in Life. Life is about phases. When your Life’s going through a particular phase that you dislike, it is not tormenting you, as you often imagine. It is inviting you to challenge yourself, to endure and to overcome the phase. Unemployment is as much a phase as romance is. Bankruptcy is as much a phase as parenthood is. When we allow ourselves to be consumed by grief, when we are being tested by Life, we miss the opportunity to live fully, to live happily! So we suffer endlessly – ending up becoming depressive and morose.
Remember that the way you respond to Life is (the only thing) in your control. When you respond with grief and sorrow, imagining your Life to be a tragedy, you miss the opportunity to be happy. Instead if you respond saying you will live through any phase, no matter what, you may go through enormous pain, but you will not suffer. To be happy, irrespective of what circumstance you find yourself in, is a personal choice you can exercise.