The Real Struggle is...Struggling? Happiness as a Choice
There was a moment a few months ago when it hit me like a ton of bricks that I had to get completely honest or I would die. Life as I knew it had become simply intolerable.
I was born poor and, despite all my ambition, talent, skill, manipulations, education, effort..., was poor now and -- gasp! -- may die poor. After I stopped having an emotional temper tantrum (I was mortified! This can't be true! It's unAmerican even!) I began slowly to make peace with what is already true.
Crazy. Simply crazy. Make a decision to stop fighting facts and, what? Go with it? If this is as good as it gets, I am either screwed or...what?
Ton. Of. Bricks.
Getting honest has freed me in ways I cannot overstate. Turns out, I don't even like stuff and I have MAD poverty skills so I am already well suited to my self once I let go of trying to be any other way. Whew. I had never even considered surrendering as I have always thought I was to climb and climb and climb out of poverty. The thing is, it didn't work for me anyway, ha.
I have never been happier in my life. My needs are met. I have a small retirement income and I live on that. I have a pout from time to time that I don't have a car anymore (got too expensive to repair AGAIN and was not dependable so honesty compelled me to sell it and walk) because I like to go and see (my Dad called me "Go Jo" as a pup.) Having to walk to the store means I get to be outside usually with my teen daughter and sometimes my teen son, too. (Or he will skateboard to meet us in town as he is cool and we are not.) We have the best conversations on these walks. I am present in my truth instead of distracted by frenzied fear and self-pity since I no longer have any drive to earn but rather can relax into receiving all the goodness of life that was there already.
This change of perspective didn't happen overnight. I've had to work on it. I start each day with a gratitude list and have to make myself stop at one page. I also take "I SHALL NOT want" as a commandment and have been shocked by how much of my thoughts concerned wanting something different from my present reality from a smaller waistline to world peace. Maybe others can afford the luxury of discontent, but I am happier if I focus my attention on what is already awesome.
I am not "supposed" to be happy. Pisses some off but mostly confuses them and causes them to question their outlook. I am poor. No car. No drugs or alcohol of lover so there is no "reason" even. We rent instead of own and I cut my own hair and the kids have to pay for their own cell phones and we don't have cable TV and...probably some other stuff.
And yet, I am happy. For reals. All of the facts of my life are, in fact, facts. I'm cool with it.
Could it be that It was never the facts--it was my stubborn attempt to deny-control-change what is, as is? That the only real struggle was struggling?
A friend said recently that some of us can only do one thing at a time. Being happy is a full time job. Who knew? I get to be joyful and content right where I am with what I have.
If I need my ego stroked, I tell myself I have taken a vow of poverty (all the great ones do, ya know) but it's more than that (also less.) It is accepting the truth.
Humans seem are compelled to be happy. Maybe we have then the power to be happy FIRST (to make a daily no-matter-what decision) and everything else then becomes part of that happiness. Like reversing the polarities or something. Instead of having happiness dependent on circumstances, be happy and all the circumstances are just part of the happiness--even if (ESPECIALLY if) nothing outwardly appears to have changed. Turns out, doesn't matter. A ton of bricks carries its own weight.
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By Lisa Owen