Several years ago I realized that pain is just a feeling and it doesn’t always reflect reality. Sure, divorce is hard, but it doesn’t mean it’s horrible. In fact, I came to realize that my divorce was one of the best things to ever happen to me. It wasn’t my choice, but it was certainly freeing.
A few years later I made the statement that I could be in the desert hanging by my thumbs, and yet still choose to be happy. I suppose there are some who didn’t believe me, and after several experiences not even close to that sort of pain, I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It’s easier said than done.
Our happiness should not be determined by our circumstances.”
However, our happiness should not be determined by our circumstances. The externals in our lives should not determine how content we are. Of course, this too is easier said than done – and God has given me plenty of opportunities to learn this lesson – over, and over again. Maybe someday I’ll get it right.
Some of the circumstances in my life are a direct result of personal choices. Others have merely been opportunities for me to realize my character flaws and to grow past them. Often, circumstances are just a mirror into my true self – revealing the real source of my sorrow, depression, and pain. When I allow these painful moments to reflect my core, I then am left with certain choices.
Masking the pain will often seem like the best choice.”
Masking the pain will often seem like the best choice. By retreating into my addictions of TV, food, depression, sex, drugs, rock’n roll, or [insert addiction du jour here], I am able to pretend that the pain has stopped. However, when the fallout from addiction gets more painful than the original problem, I am left with deeper issues than I started with.
The other choice is to meet the painful issue head-on and work through it. But this two results in a conundrum. Do I change the circumstance, or do I change my attitude. Sometimes it is the former, sometimes the latter, and sometimes it is a measured approach to both.
If your relationship is struggling, first you will have to change your attitude, then you’ll have to work on appropriate changes. If you are severely in debt, you’ll have to surrender to the solutions and address them. If you hate your job, you might have to accept that as the present reality and become the solution you want to see it others. Sometimes, as I’ve mentioned before, the answer will lie in the Serenity Prayer.
If you have no control over the situation, let it go and move on. If you have control, you may need the courage to change the problem issue. Sometimes, you just need wisdom to know the difference between the two. What I’ve learned in my 50+ years is that rarely do I have control over anything. Almost everything requires me to negotiate or compromise with others.
Changing your circumstances is ultimately not going to make you happy.”
Don’t think that changing your circumstances is going to make you happy. Finding the perfect life partner is not going to fill the voids in your life. Getting out of debt is not the solution to your depression, stress, anxiety, or insomnia. Installing yourself into your dream job, or winning the lottery, will not solve your sad inner-child.
You’re going to have to find a god who is bigger than your circumstances. Your Higher Power can not be Nirvana. If you don’t find happiness outside of your circumstances, you will never find it even if all your dreams come true. Indeed, pain may be your path to happiness.
I now know that I’m not quite ready to be strung up by my thumbs in the desert, and I would find it very difficult to not focus on the pain. Indeed, I hope I never have to face that test – I’m very unprepared and I would fail. I do however hope that I can survive the next major setback without wallowing like I did last time.’
How have you learned to ignore the circumstances and experience inner contentment?