For those that are familiar with my writing, this entry is straight-forward, cut-and-dry, as usual. For those that aren’t, I write without sugar-coating, its just my method. Nothing I say here is directed toward any individual person. The inspiration for this one came from a long series of events. With that being said…
There are three things that we have to cultivate in order to live our lives with contentment. They are:
Before I go on, let me make a quick note on the reality of things. You will not likely feel completely contented at every single moment of your life regardless of whether or not you strive to practice these three things. We are human beings, therefore we are not perfect and cannot expect to be gleeful and content through every moment of our existence. Its probably not going to happen that way so if that is what you’re aiming for, you might want to stop and re-affirm that you are indeed a person and that you have a life with relationships and responsibilities in it. Then make it clear to yourself that circumstances surrounding those relationships and responsibilities will arise that can impact your level of contentment, especially if you don’t have a solid spiritual foundation to work from. You must be sure to recognize that everything is impermanent, ever-changing, and constantly shifting. All things, no matter what, are forever changing. Emotions, circumstances, situations, ideas, and all else will never stop shifting. Accepting this truth will make it easier to adapt to change and also help solidify the idea that, no matter what is happening, “this too, shall pass”.
Now…back to living with contentment, and being clear on the term. Contentment does not mean ecstatic, uninhibited joy. It means to be okay with things, to accept them without the desire to change them. Its about being calmly satisfied with what is. If there are circumstances that you need to change or adjust in order to better your own individual place in a given situation, then by all means, set goals and take the steps necessary to get yourself in a better place. But if there are forces outside of your control (particularly other people!) at work, then the greatest step you can take toward your own happiness is to let it go.
1. Stop desiring that other people live as you think they should.
You have no right to do this and its not your job. I’m going to reiterate that: You have no right to judge or place expectations, or insist that anyone live their lives the way that you think they should. What you perceive of other people’s lives is, quite honestly, irrelevant and incorrect. There are no exceptions here! We each have our own paradigms through which all incoming stimuli and information is filtered before we develop a conclusion about it. So no matter what you think you know about another being, the truth has been skewed by your own perception. Period. You cannot judge, you cannot condemn, and you cannot create expectations of another person’s life because you are viewing that life through your own filter, therefore you don’t know anything about what that life is like for the person living it. And you will never know because you can’t become that person and see life from their perspective. These paradigms have been continually developing since the day you were born, and they are neither good nor bad, but you must recognize that they are a part of you and stop using them to cast opinions on other people. If you have expectations, judgements, and penalties to dish-out, then give them to the person in the mirror because that is probably where the problem is. (No offense…)
2. Look in the mirror until clarity comes.
There are only two reasons why we hold a grudge or blatant dislike with another person. The first one is that the person makes us all-too-aware of a characteristic we dislike about our own selves. The second reason is that we do not understand and properly identify with the person because we’ve created our own preconceived notions of them. The only way to get past this is to look in the mirror and see what the problem really is, and this is when you have to be stone-cold honest with yourself. If you don’t like something about someone, take a good, hard look at what that person is saying or doing that displeases you so much. Chances are, its going to be something you have caught your own self doing and you feel shameful or have remorse for it. You’ve got to come clean with yourself and stop blaming the subject of your distaste for the problem you have with them. I know that sounds a bit confusing, so in simpler terms, its just not their fault that you have a problem with them. The problem is your’s to deal with, not their’s. Furthermore, if you have any negative feelings associated with another person and their life-choices, then you’re suffering with severe misunderstanding. You haven’t taken the time to consider where the other person is coming from, where their motivation originates, or what circumstances have brought them to a given place. But more importantly, you’re simply not allowing them to be who they are. This is not fair because every being has value, every being has a place and purpose in this universe, and nobody has the right to decide that they know how another person should be operating. Let people be…have you heard the phrase “live and let live”? Yes? Do that!
3. People make mistakes, we mess up. It happens all the time. Deal with it.
You have lied, and others have lied to you. You have said mean things and others have said mean things to you. You’ve probably cheated a little, and cut a corner or two in order to make something easier for yourself when you could, and other people do that too. You’ve probably made a poor choice, even when you knew it wasn’t the right course of action. So has everyone else. You have likely gotten into an argument with someone you loved and said things you didn’t mean. And you’ve probably been on the receiving end of a loved one saying hurtful things to you that they don’t actually believe to be true. This is all part of interacting with other people, and crap happens. Relationships require work, understanding, compromise, and communication. Sometimes we speak or act from a place where we are lacking compassion, and that gets us into trouble. People often find themselves in situations where they feel defensive, hurt, or scared, and they respond to that in the best way they know how. First off, they are absolutely permitted to do that, to respond in their own way. But more importantly, allowing another person to slip-up without being judged for it is the greatest gift you can give them. Every single one of us, myself included, fall from our own self-imposed pedestal. We all do things that we feel bad about later, things that we constitute as unacceptable behavior. Not only do we have to answer to our own inner critic for these errors, but we also have to answer to anyone else that grudges us for it. Try not to grudge others for their faults. When someone in your life screws up and does things you wouldn’t have thought they would do, try the best you can to forgive them. Its not the end of the world and there are much bigger problems in the universe. Be kind and forgive people for their mistakes. Even if it was done deliberately and purposefully, it was still a mistake. It may take some time, but let it go.
4. Recognize the oneness and similarities.
There is nothing you have experienced in your life that some other person in this world hasn’t also experienced. Maybe its not someone you know in your immediate circle of connections, but there is without a doubt at least one other person in this world of six billion people that knows how you feel, can relate to you, and understand you. There is a great benefit, a benefit bigger than I can even explain, in recognizing that we are all in this together. We’ve all been through a lot of the same things and struggled immensely with the same issues. There a differences in the details, but the inner struggles are all very much the same. To put someone out of your heart is to discount the oneness that is. And vice-versa, to assume you are alone in your journey therefore separating yourself from the rest of the world is equally detrimental. There is no separation. Separation is an illusion that humans created to make ourselves feel better. We did it to create a divide between “us” and “them” with “them” being the people we believe are different or even beneath us. This is a terrible thing to do because not only is it senseless to perpetuate a lie but it also alienates you from your fellow beings. You cannot build a contented life of love if you have moved apart from the wholeness of this great world. If you feel like you’re alone, reach out. And if you’re looking down on someone else for being ‘less’ than you are, try to focus on all the beautiful parts of that person until you see how equally valuable they are.
We are not defined by our mistakes and shortcomings,
We are defined by the wisdom we take from them.
There is a flawed beauty to the human condition.
Chaotic. Misunderstood. Passionate. Miraculous.
© Danielle Hewitt (of Loving A Fit Life) and DanielleHewitt.com (including LovingAFitLife.com) 2011 – 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Danielle Hewitt and DanielleHewitt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.