Life Is Not Happening To You, But Continuously Responding To You

Life Never Goes According to Plan

“I believe that we can, in a deliberate way, articulate the kind of people we want to become. We can articulate the culture that we would want to exist in our family, and you can then, as the rest of life happens to you, you can utilize those things to help you become the kind of person you want to be.” — Clayton Christensen

Life is not external to us, but flows through us as a guiding source. This is meaningful since happiness is relative to our level of freedom. Our life is a result of our beliefs and past conditioning. For example, consider the delightful tale told by Anthony de Mello, which highlights the power of awareness in our life’s journey: Even though it was the Master’s Day of Silence, a traveller begged for a word of wisdom that would guide him through life’s journey. The Master nodded affably, took a sheet of paper and wrote a single word on it: ‘Awareness’. The visitor was perplexed. “That’s too brief. Please expand on it?” The Master took the paper back and wrote: ‘Awareness, awareness, awareness’. “But what do these words mean?” asked the stranger helplessly. The Master reached out for the paper and wrote: ‘Awareness, awareness, awareness means AWARENESS’.

Research shows that as little as 10% of the external world influences our happiness. For example, we can endure suffering and still choose happiness. I know it may sound hard to believe, but happiness requires letting go of whatever competes for our peace of mind. It is not dependent on outside conditions matching our needs. Life seldom goes according to plan, there is always something going on to disrupt our inner peace. For instance, victims blame outside conditions for their discontent because they believe life happens to them, not for them. I’m not articulating something new, but conveying it in such a way to empower you with a level of understanding. If happiness is not dependent on external conditions, it must arise from within? Indulge me for a moment and let’s consider this to be true. If happiness is an inner event, we can choose it as a focal point irrespective of what is happening outside of us. For example, our mood can suddenly change because we are accustomed to responding to events out there. Our feelings reveal the level of our thinking, insofar as they expose the truthfulness of our thoughts. If we experience negative emotions, it is certain they arise first from negative thoughts. So, by attending to our thoughts, we improve our emotional well-being.

Author Michael Neill writes in The Space Within: Finding Your Way Back Home the need to attend to our unconscious thoughts: “But unrecognized thought demands our attention and fills our consciousness. And when we get caught up in thought, we lose our way.” Conversely, we might consider ourselves to be positive most of the time, but be dragged down by negative thoughts when something does not agree with us. Yet, we have the power to control our response by not allowing external conditions to disrupt our emotional well-being. There is power in knowing we are the master of our mind and can change our reaction to outside events. In contrast, the victim blames outside circumstances and remains stuck in their dilemma. They cannot find peace of mind because they presume they are powerless. Are you happy with this idea that it is not what you are facing that determines your happiness, but how you choose to look at it?

Choosing Happiness

“Absolutely everything you experience in your life is a result of what you have given in your thoughts and feelings, whether you realize you have given them or not.” — Rhonda Byrne

So, what can we do to become empowered as the creator of our life? First, we must understand the essence of our true nature beyond our thoughts. Many people identify with their thoughts to the degree they believe them to be true. Yet, those same people rarely venture into the silent expansive awareness deep within. Often times, it is easier to put up with negative thoughts than to notice our own thinking. But it comes at a cost to our long-term happiness. Second, we ought to make happiness a regular feature of our life. This requires turning our attention to the prevailing goodness in our life by focussing on gratitude, not for what it offers us but for whom we become. Life consists of dualities; there is night and day, hot and cold, male and female energies. Knowing this means recognising the opposing forces at play. This is illuminating because we can choose happiness or the corresponding emotional states accompanying it. We might usually be happy unless something unexpected crops up, then we are pulled into a gloomy state. Sometimes life tests us, not on whether we pass or fail, but to give us the experience of what we hold true as a belief. Have you experiencing this, where you may be happy one moment and miserable the next? What has changed other than your thoughts about what you’re experiencing?

So, we might be cut off in traffic when running late for work one day. As a consequence, we are invited to respond in a positive or negative manner and test the power of our beliefs. It is said: You will see it when you believe it. The premise is to find within us what we wish to experience and create the internal state to correspond with it. As we align with that way of thinking, life responds accordingly. Opportunities become an extension of our predominant thoughts. But it must happen within us before outside conditions match our expectations, acknowledged as the outside—in response. We are the master of our fate and outside conditions needn’t dominate our inner landscape. We are a powerful beings, capable of choosing any experience we want. I know it may not seem obvious because we are convinced life is external to us or being imposed upon us. It is what the Master conveyed to the traveller when he asked for wisdom: a deep appreciation that life supports us, since the power we seek is within us all this time.

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