About a week ago, I reposted a saying I liked. It read:
“We are not given a good or a bad life. We are given a life. It’s up to us to make it bad or good.”
When I posted this, I had just finished reading “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, and had just began reading “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy and Liberation” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
If you are not familiar with these books, let’s just say I was feeling really Zen…
I noticed that it was getting more likes than my typical post. From my friends and family on all points on the political spectrum.
And I realized that these words were very subjective in their meaning.
I can only assume what others may have gotten from these 25 words…
But I can only know for certain what I took from them.
I believe that no matter what is going on around us, we can have inner peace. This can be enormously difficult to discover, especially when the world around you is being disorganized and cruel.
But the only thing on this earth we can truly control is ourselves. Our thoughts, actions, reactions…
This takes an extraordinary amount of self-control. And daily training. I know my personal struggle for this is on going.
But it can be done. So I keep pressing forward.
As I believe that is the only true way to achieve a good life.
There are other things that might make us happy. Wealth, a job we like, friends, family and other loved ones.
A good book, an intense schuss down a challenging slope, a moving song, a beautiful house, a breathtaking sunset…
But all of these are fleeting… none are permanent.
A job and wealth, all possessions, can disappear in an instant, without your consent.
The past 5 months have proven that to many.
Friends, family and loved ones will leave this world. We will always have our memories, maybe recorded voices, texts, videos and pictures. But once they have left, that is all we have until we join them.
The only constant is ourselves. Our thoughts. The experiences we create. The love we share.
This current moment.
You can be living in poverty and still have a good life.
You can be oppressed by the ignorant and the greedy and still have a good life.
You can rally against injustice. Be beaten, tased, gassed… be yelled at, belittled and shot… and still have a good life.
You can lose everything that this world has deemed important….
And still have a good life.
As long as you take the time to do so.
Allow your mind to be strong. Allow your spirit to be your primary focus.
This is the only thing you can truly control.