A month later, I am happy to report that much progress has been made -- both in my heart/mind and in circumstances. And I'm proud of that progress. But mostly I'm proud that I have allowed it to happen. You see, I have tried so hard for so long to control outcomes that it has taken everything within me to let go of them. My subconscious is a master manipulator. I have told myself, "if I do this, maybe he'll do that." And I've worried: "if I don't do this, this might happen." It has been a constant battle, then, to stay sane. Like walking on a tightrope. I have tried so hard to make things happen that I haven't relaxed and allowed them to happen, and I've missed out on a great deal of joy as a result of it. And because I've had so much at stake in outcomes, when daily circumstances have seemed to threaten them, I've been devastated.
I've had it all backwards, you see: we can't manipulate outcomes, because we aren't in control of them. And our happiness isn't at the mercy of what happens in this moment, because we are in control of this moment. If we surrendered to outcome and instead took responsibility for our happiness in this moment, we would find ourselves firmly grounded in the reality of what is while genuinely capable of being happy and finding peace in the midst of it. And that's because, as Laura Munson says, "It's when you stop wanting things outside of your control that you'll be happy." We cannot control whether our spouses will leave us, whether our companies will downsize, or whether Mother Nature gives us a physical ailment. We can, however, control how we respond to this moment. Each of us can be responsible for our own well-being.
As This Is Not The Story You Think It Is says, "At this moment in my life, I am strangely serene. In fact, I may have never felt more calm. Or more freed. Or more certain that these things owe themselves to a simple choice: to accept life as it is. Even and especially when it really f***ing sucks."
I don't say that to you as someone who has had it easy, particularly as of late. I've fought for years for everything I have -- financially, professionally, educationally and relationally. I've given 110% in each of those areas: working two jobs while still not having enough money to eat during college and working full-time while going to grad school; losing the job I'd worked hardest at despite my performance; being pushed away by the one person who saw me through all of that and loved me in spite of my weaknesses. It would be so easy to play the victim. To say "woe is me." To point to the millions of happily-married, well-to-do individuals whose parents paid for college and who have never had to wonder about the security of their jobs. To be embittered. To suffer.
But I've chosen not to do that. I've chosen to look back at those experiences and say, "You know, I learned the value of hard work while in grad school and college. I learned what really matters in life during the period in time I was jobless, including the importance of character. And this is my time to give the benefit of the doubt to He Who Is In Personal Crisis. This is an opportunity to learn what it means to truly love and to support him, as he supported me, despite his pain and weaknesses. Most importantly, this is a chance to accept whatever may happen to me with open arms and an open heart, and to learn not to be dependent upon any person or anything for happiness but, instead, to create my own. What a gift and what relief that is!"
So, reminder #30 to take stock and give thanks is expounded upon in the song "Good Life" by OneRepublic. "The hope is we have so much to feel good about. Oh, this has gotta be the good life. This has gotta be the good life. This could really be a good life -- a good, good life." In spite of everything, the hope is that we still have so much to feel good about. That we have the power to create the good life.
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