Out of necessity I have trained myself to keep the blues and energy draining feelings in check.  I am in no way saying that I do not get the blues or feel down and gloomy occasionally.  I’ve experienced debilitating stress and profound sadness but I’ve also worked my way through such funks to see the light and joy that were always there.  How did/do I do that?  By keeping several valued beliefs close at hand.  By turning to them and their prophets whenever darkness slips in.  These are not religious beliefs. These are philosophies I have found to be true and irreplaceably valuable.  They keep me sane and even-keeled. I would never say I am completely balanced because change occurs every moment and there is a constant dance between new and now what? But I can honestly say I am content and satisfied the majority of the time.

 React Differently

I am thinking in unlimited terms, where every event that befalls you is absolutely the best possible event that could occur – that there is no other event imaginable that could benefit you to any greater degree.

~ Chris PrentissZen And the Art of Happiness

What if we could give up the reins and accept that events and situations occur to further our growth? To aid in our development as human beings? Wouldn’t we look at troubles differently?  How would we react to pitfalls and obstacles? Imagine slightly shaking your head and wondering what purpose will reveal itself as you stand on the side of the highway with your crumpled, steaming car and a state trooper. Instead of kicking the ground and dropping the f-bomb you calmly fill out paperwork and wait to see where the situation leads you.  Wouldn’t your heart rate be lower?  Wouldn’t you feel more in control and at peace?

Many years ago I came across the notion of Zen driving.  The idea is to handle traffic or annoying drivers by adapting a zen-like manner. Take your mind off the fact that you are running late and a blue-hair pulled in front of you going 28 mph in a 50 mph zone, by noticing your steady breathing, focusing on the steering wheel beneath your hands and taking a long deep look at the sky.  It also works to think of the delay as extra time with yourself.  Wow, now I have some time to mull over that decision that’s been bothering me.  I have employed Zen Driving tactics for years.  My kids always want me to honk at people.  I don’t need or want to. Why add frustrated negativity to the environment? I’ve  noticed that soon after I become present with my driving the irritating situation resolves itself.  The annoying driver turns off onto another road or traffic unravels and I pick up speed.

Bottom line, it’s up to you to choose how to react.  You can always choose the exact opposite of what is expected or normal. 

Learn Well

You know failure isn’t failure if a lesson from it’s learned…

~ Garth Brooks, How You Ever Gonna Know?

Towards the end of the divorce process a friend asked if I regretted ever marrying my ex-husband.  My reaction was quick and honest, Absolutely not!  The person I am today includes many elements and much knowledge that I learned by living with and loving Jeff. We created three beautiful children and figured out who we are as we existed beside each other.  I don’t look at our divorce as a failure.  It’s one of those life-changing events that puts you on the fast track for personal growth.  Because of my struggling marriage I learned how to look inward for strength, how to communicate even when it hurt like hell, how to accept and honor differences and how to hit bottom and survive.

Another lesson in learning that has allowed me to move through life with a sense of contentedness is accepting criticism graciously.  The secret to doing that lies in the ability to see it as feedback, rather than jabs or dominance.  A writing teacher once said that good feedback is a relief.  I’ve experienced that relief.  It makes you want to hit yourself on the forehead and exclaim, Of course!  Why didn’t I see that?  There is no ego involved, just gratitude for pointing out where you went astray. I once had a college professor say I should put the first three pages of my play in a drawer and forget about them.  Ouch!  Looking back, I am sure he was completely correct in his review.  Last year, a writing instructor told me my blog sounded amorphous.  That was exactly what I needed to hear.  Since then I have worked to crystalize my subject matter with an emphasis on introversion, self-actualization and relationships. I am keenly aware that each of those topics could be a separate blog but for now I’ll keep them together under the header, Space2live.  

What Do You Have?

Always come from a place of abundance.  Don’t focus on what you lack.  I’ve read and heard that everywhere from The Secret to Eckhart Tolle. Focus on all the flipping incredibleness that surrounds you. I’ve had completely shitty days when the kids are driving me to drink, I feel puffy and homely, every major appliance is broken and my to-do list is eating away at my good nature.  But then I walk outside to take the trash to the street and notice the full moon and a sweet breeze.  It just takes a pause, a redirection of thought, to see the good stuff.

Some nights I go to bed and feel beaten up by the day.  Thankfully, I have a habit established that kicks in and starts mentally listing what I have going for me.  It’s a rigged system in that the good always outweighs the bad.  I may still ruminate over sticky parts of my life but I know all of the troubles will pass and the strong positive aspects will shine again.

I’ll admit I was very  bothered/hurt/caught off-guard when my ex-husband, Jeff, recently introduced our kids to his girlfriend.  I knew this day would come and I dreaded it to my core.  It’s not that I don’t want Jeff to be happy with someone else.  It’s that I did not want to share my kids with another woman.  I wanted to be the woman they love the most, until they choose mates.  Oh how my ego was squawking! This new situation rattled me for two weeks.  I slept horribly.  I couldn’t write because my mind was buzzing with worry.  I felt lonely for the first time since we started the divorce process. I called friends for moral support.

Then a giant realization came to me.  Adding another person to the kids’ lives did not in any way diminish who I am.  I am still whole and the same parent I was before she entered the picture.  I noticed what I have rather than what I could lose. I saw that any pettiness I inject into the environment will only make me look like an ass-hat.  Better to be a big person and REACT positively. I set up a time to meet with Jeff and discuss several issues regarding the kids including the addition of his girlfriend.  I also decided to welcome her into my life.  She seems like a good person, so why not have a new friend.  I made it a point to say hello when we crossed paths at Jeff’s house.

Once I changed my attitude everything stabilized.  I slept again.  Jeff and I resumed our pleasant co-parenting/friend relationship. The kids didn’t have to be uncomfortable talking about their time with their dad.

Creating Happiness

Acting as though what happens to you is the best possible thing that can happen to you + the new results = happiness.

~ Chris Prentiss, Zen And the Art of Happiness

Once you believe what happens to you is for your own good, your reactions change.  When your reactions change, new more positive results surface.  These results are satisfying and meaningful.  It’s hard to NOT find something to make your eyes twinkle.

How satisfied are you?  Can you believe that everything that happens to you is in your best interest? Even tragedy?

Further Reading: 

How to Be Lively, Energetic and Vibrant When Your True Nature Is Thoughtful, Introverted and Reticent – Space2live

The Power of Poetry: Helping Us Heal, Feel and Transition – Space2live

Peak Experiences in Self-Actualization: Gifts That Transcend Your Head – Space2live