I used to complain a lot, and I still do. But somehow, someday, I made a life-changing choice: I chose to be happy, by taking action and pursuing a life that feels meaningful.
One of the most helpful things for me on my way to happiness was to recognize that I was responsible of taking care of myself, of my happiness, and that I could get into action to realize my dream vision. When choosing happiness, we have to accept that we are responsible of our destiny. Easy to say, not that easy to apply, since we often find a lot of comfort into acting as a victim, or complaining about our situation. However, once we accept to take ownership of our life, we can take action to achieve our vision and goals, and that’s why I believe we need to do the work.
You are not a victim
In the face of adversity, when things aren’t going the way you’d like them to, when we feel stuck, sad, overwhelmed, it is easy to blame others, society, your job, or even life. To position ourselves as victims.
Acting as a victim gives us some benefits. We can whine. We get comforted by our friends. And the most important thing, we don’t have to make any change, do anything, because the fault isn’t ours. If we are not happy, it’s because our boyfriend is lazy, our dad is angry, our job sucks, our rent is too expensive, school is too hard. Life ain’t easy you know?
All these excuses save you from having to take action. When we make excuses for what’s going wrong in our life, we are putting ourselves behind bars, and we will eventually get stuck in the prison of our own mind. These excuses are what is in the way between us and our happiness. We first need to acknowledge that we are responsible of our life, of our own happiness, to then be able to act upon your values and live the fulfilling life we deserve.
I’d love much more to see you empowered, even when facing challenges, to fight inequality and unfairness, then acting as a victim. We might not be able to choose what happens in life, but we can always choose to see ourselves the way we want to. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela all had reasons to be unhappy, to act as victim, but they didn’t.
Instead, they chose a life of strength, of courage, of power. Until you decide to let go of the excuses, you are not only acting as a victim to the outside world, you are also acting as a torturer to yourself, not offering to yourself the opportunity to take charge of your life.
You are not your condition
“There is suffering.” – The Buddha
With that simple sentence, the Buddha takes us back to the simple truth of existence: there is suffering.
It doesn’t have to be a depressing thought, it is simply an aknowledgement that suffering is part of life, very much like joy, happiness, death. These are all parts of life we cannot dismiss even if we wish to.
When I am inviting you to start acting as an empowered human being, I am fully aware that it might be very challenging to do so. A few of us seem to be luckier , while others can suffer from a certain condition, or have been affected by a difficult situation or context, that seems almost impossible to overcome.
However, no matter what our condition, context, social status, difficulties are, I believe we all have reasons to be unhappy. I believe we all have a root suffering. Let’s see what that could be.
“Avidya Asmita Raga Dwesha Abhiniveshaha Kleshaha” –Chapter 2, Sūtra 3, Light On The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
- Avidya, which means ignorance, confusing what is not permanent with what is permanent, holding on to the past, to what you believe you are.
- Asmita, which I like to translate as ego, confusing who you are with your mind, or your body, when we know that you are neither your thoughts, your emotions, or your physical self.
- Raga, which I would translate as desire, craving, which happens often when we get too attached to pleasant experiences, when we confuse pleasure, which is limited in time and to certain conditions, with happiness, which can be durable, and has more to do with a clear and calm state of mind.
- Dukha, which can be translated as aversion, hatred, coming from an unpleasant experience. I kind of see it as the opposite of raga, although with similar effects. Instead of craving for pleasant experiences, we are running away from unpleasant ones. Both leave us in a state of misery, in a life on which we don’t have much control over.
- Abhiniversha, which is often translated as fear of the unknown, fear of death. When overwhelming, this fear can keep us from experimenting, trying, living, but we do need a little bit of that fear to stay alert and careful. In Sanskrit, it is not the same as Bhaya, which means fear. It is more than fear, it’s a state of consciousness of our own and imminent death. When properly understood, this fear is what makes us take care of ourselves.
Who doesn’t relate to one or more of these causes of suffering? We all do, in some way. So we are all suffering. Again, it doesn’t have to be a depressing thought, it is simply a fact. But that doesn’t mean we have to keep on suffering for ever. The more we understand our root suffering, the more we can act upon it. Avidya is what makes us suffer the most in fact, because once we know better, the other causes of suffering can be dealt with a lot easier, as we less and less let ourselves get caught in circles of suffering.
So by now you know where I am going. When I am inviting you to become the captain of your life, I am not implying that it is an easy thing. But the truth is, we all have a reason to be suffering, and the reason itself doesn’t matter much. When we are confronted to difficult situations, when we suffer, blaming our condition for our unhappiness isn’t helping us in any way. It’s a powerless position, where we leave our happiness in the end of destiny, depending on external factors to make this day great or though.
You are not your condition. You are not a betrayed wife. You are not a cancer patient. You are not only disabled, you are also able to accomplish so much.
You get to choose the way you want to see yourself. You get to choose who you want to be. Go ahead, and be that amazing person. Be that friend, that sister, that mother, that boss, that yogi you want to be. Just remember that in the end, those labels don’t even define you. Because at the end of the day, you were, you are, you will, always be that simple yet wonderful human being, which believe me, is more than enough.
You are responsible of your life
“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.” – Albert Einstein
What we are though, if we are neither a victim nor a condition, is responsible of our life.
It is a real responsibility, because once we refuse to make up excuses for ourselves, and we start seing that we are much more than our condition, it will demand courage to make the right choices, to live with integrity, embracing our values.
However, we do have to choice to come back to our old views of ourselves, whenever we feel like it. We have the power to choose to keep pretending we are happy the way we are, being dependant on others, on external factors, and on nature, to influence our mood positively or negatively.
Or we can choose the less travelled path, and start working towards happiness. This is why I call it Choosing Happiness.
As Dr. Phil says, you get to choose your behavior, and by doing so, you choose the consequences that come with it. Not being responsible might be more comfortable, but in the end, it will cause some harm. We will eventually pay the price, may it be a lack of self-esteem, a feeling of loss and nonsense, or a life that we may feel like we’ve wasted.
Happiness does require some discipline, some practice, some work, but it will be much more rewarding. Imagine all the possibilities that are lying ahead of you if you start believing in yourself, believing you can reach your goals, accomplish your dreams. Engaging in that process itself is very rewarding, and can make you feel great instantly.
“Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the high road to pride, self-esteem and personal satisfaction.” – Brian Tracy
Engage yourself on the path to the life you deserve. Choose Happiness. Be Courageous. Live Free.