It’s funny how a person (me) can spend their whole life discounting simple things, only to turn around later and be stunned by how profound they are. Concluding that the answer to a complex issue must be equally complex created this scenario in my life for many years.
I think we all say things that in many instances we do not actually consider or internalize. When the day comes that you finally do, when that light bulb goes off over your head, the life altering repercussions can be shocking.
Take The Serenity Prayer for example. I was first exposed to this prayer while attending NA meetings in support of a loved one around the age of 19.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The strength to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
This was recalled to my mind this morning as I was discussing a co-worker who worries too much about things he has no control over. As I said the words it dawned on me that without really thinking about it I have internalized this philosophy. This is not to say I never worry about things I cannot change. But, when I do, it is a slip and not the norm.
I have always had a nearly infinite capacity to not care about things, so I have frequently been able to simply shrug and walk away. But this is different. I am not longer shrugging and walking away because I do not care, or because I am pretending not to care. Now I am simply accepting, through the application of wisdom, that my efforts and energy are better directed at the things I have power over.
No, I am not leaving things in the hands of “God”. I am simply aware that with the passage of time all possible outcomes will be whittled away to what is eventually the single outcome of any situation. Many times my “job” is to simply wait and see what happens.
Yes, I need to plan ahead and take care of my family and myself. But sitting around giving myself high blood pressure or an ulcer doesn’t help.
I recently connected with another blogger who is a self described minimalist. He seeks simplicity and a basic lifestyle, which he achieves by connecting with nature, removing clutter, etc. I enjoy my toys, and I remain too materialistic to pursue this lifestyle. Nevertheless, as I read his posts I become aware of ways that his point of view and life philosophy can be modified to fit my lifestyle. In the end I do not think it comes down to the number, size, or type of items in your home. I believe it comes down to seeking out that which makes you happy and pursuing it.
Even that notion sounds somewhat cliché’ unless you have actually internalized it. “Pursue what makes you happy” is no solution to anything if what you pursue is self destructive or hurtful to others. Money for instance, can be a tool to bless those around you, smooth obstacles, and give your children opportunities that you did not have. Or it can be a vice. Something you rub in the face of others, lord over them, or use to leverage others in to destructive behavior in order to please yourself. (Drugs, prostitution, etc.)
So it is not simply making yourself “happy”, but rather coming to a realization of the meaning of “joy”. When you realize what joy is, and become a joy to others, and derive joy from others, that is an entirely different thing.
I have begun to seek and find joy in others. Transforming myself in to someone who brings joy to others is a more daunting proposition. But I’m working on it.