Men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their opinions of the things that happen.
Epictitus (55-135 AD)
Greek Stoic Philosopher
I read this in a book a while ago and was struck to my core by how simply it states the obvious. It is not the events that determine our happiness. Events just happen. It is our mind (thinking) that establishes how we will experience the event – how we will permit it to affect us! It is our ability to form an opinion that sets us apart from other species. That ability to form an opinion is the absolute joy of being alive and experiencing life with happiness as the basis.
That person did not cut you off just to irritate you. The game was not rained out just to ruin your day. You did not fail to do that thing you wanted to do – the result was just different than you wanted. Things happen to us and around us. They just do! If we did not have a mind to form an opinion, the things would just happen and we would move on. That is what other species do.
I watched a bird build a nest in a hard to reach spot, find a mate, start a family, make hundreds of trips in and out just to feed the babies, stick nearby when they had left the nest, show the “youngsters” how to find food and stay out of harms’ way, and finally leave the area to head south for the winter. The next year they will do it all again. They did this with no big celebrations, no frustration at the huge workload, no show of pride, no anger at the rain that made them wet. They do not have the mind to form an opinion about the events that are going on around them and that they are a part of. They were not happy nor sad nor angry nor any of the other emotions we experience. They just were!
Our blessing and sometimes curse is that we do have emotions. We form an opinion in our minds that decides how we will feel. When “good” things happen, we can decide to feel joy or contentment or happiness. We can also decide to feel apprehension and worry in case something “bad” is going to happen to ruin the happiness. It makes more sense to decide to feel the joy, contentment and happiness! Decide that way! When “bad” things happen, we can decide to feel anger, frustration, and sadness. We can also decide to feel those feelings and quickly look for what we can do with the experience to learn, avoid in the future, adjust to new reality and see how we will meet the challenge to feel happy anyway! We get to choose. Choose calmness and happiness!
Of course we will have the negative emotions. That is how we can really enjoy the happy emotions. Knowing the difference. We should not deny the negative emotions. Rather, experience them, feel them, and as soon as we can, look to see how we can find ways to move back into the light and feel happiness again. How you react determines your happiness. Do not focus on the “bad”. Remember that the outcome we all want is happiness.
Live well, love always and laugh out loud every day!!!!!