Stay In Your Lane
“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”— Carl Jung
I wish to emphasise one important key principle in this article. The rest is details: Happiness = Accepting What Is and Letting Go of what you cannot control. It sounds simple, right? Then why aren’t we happy? Because what looks easy is often difficult to apply. We want happiness to fill a void in our lives, but we don’t want the struggle and difficulties that go with it. Yet, the pain and struggles serve as a reminder to stop influencing circumstances beyond our control. I often remind my coaching clients to stay in your lane. Meaning, you have no business poking around in matters outside your control because life will impose itself upon you each time. It has many millennia of experience and a toolbox of tricks, compared to your humble few decades of life.
Do you agree? That life has a bigger agenda for us and we ought to allow it to do its job? I’ve read hundreds of books on happiness over the past decade, and attending seminars by respected psychologists and concede that happiness is much simpler than we think. Whilst I do not discount the value of their tireless work and research, I believe happiness is accessible once our thoughts are in harmony. It is our thinking that impedes the achievement of happiness, not having a bank account full of money, fancy cars or luxury homes. Whilst these are wonderful things to have, they are meaningless if you cannot find peace and contentment within.
The Meaning You Give Your Experiences
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”—Joseph Campbell
We are responsible for our problems because we create them through our thoughts. Nothing outside you has meaning save for the meaning you give it. Your mind assigns meaning to life’s events to make sense of what takes place. Yet the meaning you give, can be inaccurate if viewed through a distorted lens. For example, if you’ve been cheated on in a relationship, the meaning you ascribe to future relationships will be based on a lack of trust. This is neither right nor wrong, but one aspect of the picture. This is an ideal time to reinforce the focal point of this article: your happiness lies in reframing events to accept What Is and Let Go of What You Cannot Control.
Referring to our earlier example where your trust was squandered through infidelity. The lesson gained here, is that you are likely to choose a trustworthy partner in your next relationship, given its connection to your happiness. Contrast helps to shed light on what you value most and will be important to you. To further emphasise the point, you may have overlooked your partner’s transgression by playing a part in co-creating an unbalanced union. Note, I am not implying you consented to the unfaithfulness, however as a complying party you are still responsible for the events that took place. Therefore, your lesson is to accept the dissolution of the relationship and release all judgement, anger and hate by healing and forgiving yourself and your former partner.
Learn From The Experience
“Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable.”—Denis Waitley
To harbour anger and resentment ties you to the other person and does little to help you heal. In fact, you are likely to bring those toxic emotions into the next relationship, repeating the damage of the past and perceiving future relationships as toxic. Amid the backdrop of acceptance is the invitation to let go of what you cannot control. In this example, you cannot control other people’s actions. You cannot control whether they will return your love. You cannot control if they will be faithful to you. However, you can control your response to what happens. You can control the meaning you give to the event.
You can control the lessons gained from the experience and carry them into the next relationship. You can control whether you remain a victim or an ambassador for inner peace and harmony. These are powerful lessons, yet we ruminate on what went wrong in the past rather than how to carry the lessons forward. I’m not saying it is easy and it may take longer than you imagine to achieve. It is a more worthwhile path than being a victim to your circumstances. Knowing this, reflect on areas of your life where you are trying desperately to control or hold together. How can you loosen your grip and allow life to unfold through you? It might require mentally stepping back from the drama and acknowledging your circumstances. It is a given, that whilst we cannot control the circumstances of life, we can control how we respond to what happens to us. This is a measure of our commitment to accept life as it is and let go of what we cannot control.