Happiness is an inside job

I found a quote on a local church marquis over the weekend that stated ‘happiness is an inside job’. At first I could only laugh because that day was particularly challenging and introspective, but also I found it funny to be in front of a church. Now, I’m not religious, as anyone has read (spiritual, yes), but I always thought that religion, especially Christianity was about getting right with god and had little to do with personal happiness. Simply salvation in the next world. Since I have been very introspective the last few days, that sign has sort of stuck with me. I have written pages upon pages of words relating to the notion of happiness essentially stemming from within and radiating out, and yet this sign summed it up so easily.

Happiness is an inside job. I’ve been struggling with the inside of myself and with the outside world. To quote myself a couple years ago, inner chaos brings outer chaos and vice versa. I can say with certainty that the outer chaos is destroying whatever inner peace I have recently gained, which has caused many internal problems for me.

At the same time, I know that for growth to occur, destruction has to happen first. It cannot last forever, unless I choose roads that continue the suffering. Situations are impermanent. How I deal with these everyday situations will shape the lessons I learn and how I grow as a person, consciously or not. I can remain bitter and grow resentful of the inadequacies of others and how I somehow got a raw deal or I can trudge forward and attempt to learn something. I mean, I’m destined to repeat it again, if I don’t learn it this time around, right?

Along those same lines I’ve recently discovered that I’m reliving situations that I should have learned from almost a decade ago. But the strange catch to this lesson is that I’m on the other side of the equation. Instead of playing my role, it’s of another person and the role of me is played by someone else entirely. It’s incredibly bizarre to have a stark reminder of where I’ve come from, but worse yet, I now understand fully what that person may have been feeling at the time. While the situations are by no means exactly alike, the similarities are striking and I truly feel that the lesson is the same for the person sharing it with me, and my lesson here is different from theirs. Instead, I believe I’m meant to deepen my understanding of it, and perhaps even come to a place of forgiveness about those past hurts.

I am trying to learn my lessons while teaching a lesson I’ve already learned. It’s challenging, to say the least. Meanwhile, I’m also trying to live my life, what’s left of it. I say what’s left of it because it vaguely resembles anything I’m familiar with. Instead, it’s like a shell, or even a movie. I know all the actors, I felt like I’ve seen it before, but I just can’t figure out the punch line. I’m waiting to ‘get’ the joke.

What I’ve taken away from these feelings and frustrations lately is that I really am unhappy with where I am in life. I have to stay on course just a little longer before I can make the necessary changes. And I’m also trying to swallow the idea that somehow I still don’t have a clear handle my life, even thought I surely thought by the time I was in my 30s, I’d have figured it out. I am not entirely sure we ever really do, but rather, we are surrounded by people who have mastered the art of ‘fake it until you make it’, and none of us really have a handle on it.

So what does this have to do with the sign? I’m not really sure about that either. But I do know that millions of people find comfort with a set of guidelines, even if they don’t necessarily follow the rules very well. It’s comforting to know they’re out there and most of these souls are just as lost as you are. They’re all just trying to fake it the best they can.

Thanks for reading! Please share your stories in the comment section. I’m curious if others have similar thoughts and feelings.

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~ by wendemachete on July 22, 2014.

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