One thing I can say about my life is that it never goes as planned. I have friends who have gotten married, had kids, decent jobs and life hasn’t totally changed their paths. Of course we all encounter changes – loved ones die, get sick, jobs are lost – but for the most part these friends lives stay on course. Marriage and kids – the traditional route for many.
Then there are the rest of us – those who have encountered divorce, death of a spouse or partner, children who have passed away (this is horrifically heartbreaking), job loss, devastating financial loss. We had dreams too but those dreams were so cruelly taken away.
There are those who like to say this is God’s will, he has a plan for you. I don’t want to offend anyone but I do not believe there is a supreme being up there deciding who suffers more or less. Not everyone believes in the same God as you, some don’t believe there is one at all. But one thing we can control is how much and how long we allow ourselves to suffer.
I am reading a very interesting book right now – The Book of Joy, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. The book is a compilation of a week-long conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Two men of different faiths but bonded by suffering, loss and encountering and overcoming great personal adversity. You don’t have to be Buddhist or Christian to appreciate this book. It speaks to all of us, no matter our faith or lack of.
I am halfway through the book. I don’t look at it as a self-help guide per say but it will make you think about situations in your life and how you react to those situations. It is okay to feel sad, upset, angry, broken but only you can find your own inner happiness.
I wish I had an answer on how to find happiness and joy in our lives but that is only something that you can create for yourself. The people around us may bring us joy and happiness but only you can be the warrior in your battle to find peace, contentment and true joy and happiness. I won’t say this book has changed my life but it has made me reflect deeply on my own life. I am good, I am worthy and I deserve to be joyful. One thing I know is that I will never let anyone tear me down, they may bring bring sadness and heartbreak into my life, but that is temporary. No more toxic relationships, be it romantic, familial or friendship will be allowed. No more exes back in my life that did not choose me or chose to leave or hurt me will be allowed either. These decisions are not always easy, we miss people, we cry over people, but if that is how they treat you then they do not deserve your time or your heart. I always preach forgiveness but that does not mean you can keep allowing someone in your life who has hurt you over and over again, without any thought of how they have hurt you.
From now on I choose me. If you are broken I will support you, but I will not be your punching bag, nor will I fix you. But most of all, if you leave me when I wanted you in my life and then when you return you expect to be worthy of me and my love again then you are sadly mistaken. I am stopping the cycle of heartbreak because I love me too much to allow you to hurt me again, over and over.
I highly recommend this book. It may not change your life but it will make you think and question your own life and the endless suffering you are allowing yourself to endure.
Three of my favorite passages/quotes from the book are:
“Wherever you have friends that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home”. – The Dalia Lama reflecting on an old Tibetan saying.
“Sadly, many of the things that undermine our joy and happiness we create ourselves. Often it comes from the negative tendencies of the mind, emotional reactivity, or from our inability to appreciate and utilize the resources that exist within us,” said the Dalai Lama. “The suffering from a natural disaster we cannot control, but the suffering from our daily disasters we can.”
“Start where you are. Do what you can. You will be surprised by the JOY.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu