At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter why we ended up in the unhealthy situation we find ourselves in. What matters is what we choose to do now, how we choose to live in this very moment. The present is a place of opportunity, a place where the new can find expression. If you can make one choice today, choose to be happy.
Two decades ago, I read Machiavelli’s “The Prince” for the first time. “The end justifies the means” he said, and, for a moment, I thought that made sense. That moment lasted a bit more than a decade, years in which I got to experience how this perspective on life modelled my actions and how those actions changed the way I lived and the lives of others. I worked in politics you see, trying to change the world through the available methods which were the exact things that were keeping the world stuck in what I considered to be an “unhealthy” place.
During that time, I gave myself a hard lesson. That the more I compromised my present in order to reach a better future the more I reinforced the patterns and situations that made me unhappy and dissatisfied with life. And no wonder. That must be one of the definitions of madness. If you want to make your drink sweeter, you’re not going to add salt, right? Or if you want to paint a warm picture, you’re not going to use a preponderance of cold colors. That would make no sense whatsoever.
So why is it that when it comes to our biggest goals in life many of us end up disregarding this principle? Why do we think that in order to achieve happiness it’s ok to go through years, maybe even decades of pain and suffering? When I look around me these are the patterns that I see at work in the world. Patterns of suffering, patterns of unnecessary self-sacrifice, patterns of powerlessness and futility. But life is so much richer than that, filled with infinite possibilities. Pain is just one way, happiness is another.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter why we ended up in the unhealthy situation we find ourselves in. Maybe the mind cares about that, but not the soul. What matters is what we choose to do now, how we choose to live in this very moment. The present is a place of opportunity, a place where the new can find expression. If you can make one choice today, choose to be happy. Not in a week from now, not in a year, not after this relationship and not once you’re done with this job. Not after the kid is old enough to go to college, not after you’ve taken care of everyone else’s needs. But right in this moment. I know, it’s selfish. It seems unfair. Who are you to be happy when everyone else is not? Who are you to get more out of life?
Well, you are the person who has the courage to choose differently. You are the person who understands the responsibility they have in the world and chooses to change themselves rather than change others. You are the person who wakes up in the morning wondering what to do that day so that their soul can feel nourished, this way positively impacting their environment. You are the person who understands that happiness is not a result of external circumstances but a way of being in the world, something that is created deep within us and then radiates to the surface. Until we become what we are trying to attract, things will never change. Not for us and not for others.
A few years back I heard another phrase. “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.“ I finally agree.
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash