Nothing is ever as good as it looks or as bad as it seems.
Yet we still squeeze out the last drop of drama by demonizing people and circumstances that have disappointed us. (see social media)
And, despite common sense, we go on to deify other people, allowing our expectations to soar out of the range of possible fulfillment.
The happiest people I know are people who look at the world without illusion, who know that all of us are terribly inconsistent and fallible, who treat good news and bad news the same without jumping to dramatic conclusions, and who build structures of happiness on the inside rather than the outside.
It’s taken me way too long to learn this but I am inching my way there.
When we hang on to the pain or complain about…
- how much better things used to be
- the weather
- aches and pains
- people we have lost
- circumstances we don’t like
We may as well admit that we are dancing with a skeleton: a skeleton of a desire or an illusion about ourselves or our future.
When we give up trying to change things we cannot control, we…
- finally see how ridiculous we are to those who have had to put up with our fantasy, and
- free ourselves to dance with a real partner
Some important, yet terrible lessons come in the high-stakes arena of life and death, survival and extinction, hope against hope and dark despair. However, most of us are given opportunities to learn valuable lessons when stakes are low.
Examples of my painful, low-stakes, learning opportunities:
- Being kicked out of, and rejected by certain groups (although painful, no one threatened to chop off my head).
- Being completely hurt and taken off guard by those I loved (although devastated, no one took my children away and tortured them).
- Losing money, work, promotions, and contests to seemingly unworthy opponents (although disheartened, I was not thrown into prison for losing).
Awareness of those who deal with high-stake losses yields rare maturity versus the all-too-common self-pity.