It’s funny how once you decide things are a certain way, they really are that way. What I mean is, you find meaning where you would like and run with it. Several books, in combination with my own experiences, have completely convinced of me this hypothesis’s utter truth.
Book 1: The secret
I don’t mean to hit you with a product endorsement, but I really do think that everyone should read The secret. Yes, I know it’s an international success and that many people turn their collective noses up at it for just this reason. But the truth is, The secret makes COMPLETE and TOTAL sense. If you haven’t read it and think you’re above it, don’t.
In a nutshell, it tells you that you are your thoughts. So if you think negatively, then well, you’re destined to a life of gloom and despair. However, if you think positively, many amazing things await. Even if it’s not always easy to remain positive and upbeat, it’s such the better way to live. I used to love complaining and gnashing my teeth and worrying everything to death. I am fighting off vivid images of my friends and family collectively falling to the floor in laughter at the insinuation that I no longer do these things. But honestly, despite allowing myself to get swept away by my daily stresses and student problems, I have managed to cultivate an “It is what it is” attitude. As one of my wise brother says “control the controllables.” So even though I may complain about Student X that did such and such, it’s really more for entertainment’s sake than for real and true losing of sleep over the issue.
Book 2: I really wish I could remember the title, if you are interested enough to leave a comment, I will find it for you
The secret was the first book that sparked that “you are what you think” addiction in me. So I began to think of myself as a writer even though I wasn’t…persay…writing…anything. As the compulsion to write got worse and worse, “poof!” just like magic, the next book I needed fell, quite literally, into my lap. As a bon voyage gift last spring in Paris, my wonderful former boss (Hi, Simone!) gave me a fascinating book about Jungian philosophy and the power we exercise over the “story of our lives.” An especially intriguing concept for a budding, would-be writer. Basically, it explains how there is no true coincidence. We choose to find coincidence when and where we would like. And we choose to ignore the coincidences that do not fit into the story we choose to make of our lives. Which leads me to…
Book 3: The sacred path of the warrior
Right now, I am really pushing to maintain a more true and authentic sense of calm as I navigate my way through an extremely dense forest of teaching and advising and editing and listening and…you get my point.
So late one night this week, I found meaning in this book about an ancient Eastern philosophy that actually informed Tibetan Buddhism. I saw it as an eerie coincidence I happened to pick up the book at the exact moment in time I’ve have been trying to slow myself down. But was it really a coincidence? According to Book 2, no. I chose to read the book. I made a conscious decision to try and lead my life as gratefully as possible. Form your own opinion, but before doing so, oblige me and read my favorite excerpt thus far:
“Discovering real goodness comes from appreciating very simple experiences. We are not talking about how good it feels to make a million dollars or finally graduate from college or buy a new house, but we are speaking here of the basic goodness of being alive-which does not depend on our accomplishments or fulfilling our desires. We experience glimpses of goodness all the time but we fail to acknowledge them. When we see a bright color, we are witnessing our own inherent goodness. When we hear a beautiful sound we are hearing our own basic goodness. When we step out of the shower, we feel fresh and clean, and when we walk out of a stuffy room, we appreciate the sudden whiff of fresh air. These events may take a fraction of a second but they are real experiences of goodness.”
And that, my reader friend, is when things came full circle for me. Author Chogyam Trungpa managed to articulate much more eloquently than I the premise of artsdevivre. Happiness can’t come from outside circumstances. It comes from finding contentment with the circumstances you currently have.