Secret to Happiness: Moving from “It should be like this” to “Is is like this”

One of the greatest struggles in our lives is acceptance. How do we accept people and situations as they are? A good deal of our miseries in life comes from a single idea in our minds – Things should be this way. We are bound by this idea of the world we have – things should be the way we see fit. People and the world should dance to our tunes. But let us pause and ask ourselves – why?

Why is it that we cannot see things as they are? This is because of the illusion of control. We are taught from very early on that we are ‘masters of our own fate’, ‘You can change the world’, or that ‘You can dream and achieve anything’. There is certainly some truth to this. Individual effort definitely has some place in this world. However, like everything else in this hyped up world, it is exaggerated beyond what is necessary. Human effort indeed has a place in this world, but so too does uncertainty. There are things that are way beyond our control. There are things in existence that we simply cannot influence. Freedom begins when we begin to recognize how insignificant we are in the larger scheme of things. We are smaller than a speck in this vast creation. And whatever we do will eventually be washed away by the tides of time. This awareness of our irrelevance to creation brings in a hint of realism in life and helps us understand that there are greater currents that shape our lives.

Does this mean that we surrender and abandon all effort. Certainly not! The skill in life is to realize that death awaits us one day and yet act. We do not act for anything – to gain success, fame, money. We act to express ourselves – because we can’t be anyway else without acting. It is the difference between socializing because it helps build our network and meeting up old friends or family because it is just joyful. Our modern societies have unfairly placed too much attention on the results of our actions and in the process we have lost the joy in action. Freedom begins by realizing that time is limited and death awaits us at the exit and yet act for the simple fact that we are joyful in acting.

This ability to recognize that time is limited, death awaits us and that we have little control over people and things – should wake us up. It is a good practice to reaffirm this to ourselves before we go to bed. Let us tell ourselves, “I cannot change others”, “I cannot change the world”. “I choose to act where I can and how my actions shape society or the world is an effortless outcome”. This could be the way to greater acceptance.

The sun sets over the saline flats. Rann of Kutch. 2020

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