When you don’t like your circumstances, do you change your circumstances or change yourself?
Conventional wisdom would advise you change your circumstances. Buuuuuuut conventional wisdom isn’t always right. Conventional wisdom doesn’t take into account that you are where you are because of who you are.
If you change the circumstances independent of yourself, and are not simultaneously doing the work to evolve, all your new circumstances will eventually sprout similar situations to your old circumstances.
Take the famous example of people who win the lottery and are even poorer a few years later, while wealthy people can lose their millions several times and keep making more.
This is because we are responsible for our situation in more ways than we often realise. The way we approach life determines the majority of our interactions and experience. If you keep experiencing a similar type of scenario, the reason could very well be because of you. How you handle yourself, your dominant mindset, and what you choose to allow in your life all play a very big role in generating the circumstances and the types of people and the interactions that you wind up spending most of your time engaging in.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
We’ve been raised in a blame society instead of one of responsibility; in that it’s often the norm to blame somebody else or something else for our experiences. “He hurt me.” “She made me angry.” “The stupid coffee pot spilled and that’s why I’m so teary today.”
To be fair, we do the same thing with positive feelings, often attributing happiness and joy to situations and people other than ourselves.
We can wind up using the external as a crutch for our good feelings and our bad feelings. And so we are at the mercy of our environment like a piece of wood tossed about on the high seas, when we can instead be an entire sailboat, with the ability to steer and manage ourselves in virtually any condition, adjusting as need be to move forward on our respective trajectory even when conditions are not the most favourable.
The fallacy of most teachings is that they say you have got to get to some place that you’re not currently, in order to find happiness. And, more to the point, that there is a right way and wrong way to live life or to be happy. This is the premise of most advertising and peer-related pressures. You’re often told if you’re discontent it’s because of where you are and what you have, and not necessarily who you are.
I challenge that. I will say that who you are is a far more important factor to your happiness. Who you are is rather huge. There’s the fundamental you-ness that underlies your entire life. There’s the various talents and abilities that you grow and develop through your life. Then there’s the sense of assuredness and certainty that comes from accepting your nature. It’s the confidence in simply being. It is accepting that your body and your emotions and your mentality are all within your ownership. That you are actually in control of you.
And, yes, I get that this may not always be a given. There are many people with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. We don’t all start at the same line, and I’m not taking away from the fact that some people have to work harder at mastering their own bodies and beings, and may need more supporting structures (which includes medication) and training and external assistance. It may not always be an easy journey but the more we make peace with it, the easier it gets.
And just as mastering physical and mental faculties is something many strive for, mastering your emotions can allow you the freedom to be happy wherever you are right now. You will also be unshaken by what other people do or say, and will be better able to navigate situations. You essentially take away the effect of what’s outside of you and recognise that your emotions can be better affected within you.
You see, the key to living unconditionally happy or unconditionally in love is not to remove the conditions but to find your happy and your love regardless of the conditions.
That last statement isn’t entirely accurate but I made it as a gentle step. The next step is realizing that there are no conditions at all. That your happiness is a choice that you and only you can make. It’s a level of freedom that liberates you from the people and the circumstances of your life.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your circumstances or your people. It means that you don’t get caught up in their dramas and you don’t get affected by their dramas either. It means that you are better able to act from a space of calm and centred deliberation.
To continue the sailboat analogy, nobody ever tries to change the ocean. You accept that the ocean can be gentle and it can be tumultuous. And you learn to be a better sailor. And maybe you get a bigger boat. You may do these things before you take the journey. Or sometimes, a journey shows you that you can do with more training and may benefit from upgrading your equipment.
No analogy is perfect, and this is no exception, but I hope it paints a good enough picture.
Mastering yourself is the first step to mastering the rest of your life. We all need to grow up a bit more. We all could take more responsibility and be more in charge of our inner world before tackling the outer world. The irony is that the more we master our inner world, the less need we have to adjust the outer one. The further irony is that the outer one tends to take care of itself perfectly, in response to our attitudes and perspectives.
The world is a playground, laden with opportunities to experience pretty much whatever we want to experience.
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