Stated in an article I read recently was the premise that science now believes our brain has no dependable ability to accurately predict our emotional reaction to life changes that have not happened yet. No matter how much contemplation of a subject in advance, a person can not know for certain through anticipation how something is going to feel.
Apparently, in most cases we physically simply don’t know for sure ahead of time what we want and don’t want. Only when we get it can we find out what makes us happy and what does not. Again the point is made that experience is where the greatest amount of true knowledge comes from for each of us.
The line of thinking in the article went on to an even more important point: the act of pondering, wondering, thinking, contemplating and brooding over what our reaction might or might not be to something is what can screw us up!
We live in a time the vast majority of humans before us never had the luxury of. The many generations preceeding had to mostly be obsessed with just staying alive. When the majority of time was spent gathering berries and running from wild animals there was little left to spend considering what might bring happiness.
Research now shows that things like friendship, love, altruism and religion or spiritual practice help to bring happiness. In other words, moving the focus away from our self is what creates fertile ground for happiness. That feels true for me. When I was finally able to let go, stop worrying all the time and began attempting to live life well one day at a time, my existence became a much better experience. When I began to enjoy the ride instead of trying to figure out where it was taking me my satisfaction of life took a positive leap forward.
In working a successful 12 step program for codependence and compulsion, these admissions had to be made: 1) my life had become unmanageable 2) something beyond me could help 3) a choice to accept help and stop trying to do every thing myself. Summed up I can say this a different way in just a few words: I stopped trying to be my own God!
In counseling and recovery the word God is a tricky thing. For many, words such as Higher Power, Nature or The Universe make more sense. That is true for me as I believe God is all those things and more. My convictions say that whatever energy and force there is beyond me is outside my ability to accurately comprehend. All trying to grasp such a heady concept does is complicate and cloud my mind without any further understanding. By attempting insight from a limited human perspective I can only put myself further away from the force of life.
I respect all different viewpoints regarding ‘God’ and would never tread on anyone’s beliefs, hoping they will extend to me the same consideration. Personally I am better off not to try to sort out the ‘God thing’ and make sense of it. Rather my choice has been to find acceptance. By embracing a power beyond my capacity to grasp and letting myself fall into it is how I found the freedom to be alive, happy and contented in spite of all my faults, mistakes and imperfections (at least most of the time).
Oh, I still doubt sometimes. Bad things still happen. Life is still painful and difficulties can seem almost unbearable some days. I just don’t get permanently stuck there any more. Knowing “this too will pass” makes a huge difference. Once I stopped trying to force my way onto life and instead allowed the power behind everything to take me where it wanted, being alive became a so much better experience. I am very grateful.
Grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking this world
As it is, not as I would have it.
Adapted from original concepts by Reinhold Niebuhr