“Once upon a time there was a very friendly princess who was captured by a big, grumpy, invisible wizard,
And he locked her in the tippy top of his tower…
Now this princess got very, very smart after years of thinking in the tower,
and it began to dawn on her that perhaps the invisible wizard wasn’t even there.
So she approached the gigantic door that kept her locked into the tower
and she OPENED IT,
and tiptoed carefully down the stairs…
where low and behold she walked into a clearing in the woods and she was free!
And you’ll never believe it, but there was an entire village
of forest animals and people dancing and singing.
They had been waiting for her all these years.”
–The Roches, Goodnight
Sometimes we feel angry or scared or that the whole world is against us and we don’t even know why. When things don’t seem to be going our way, it is easy to get trapped into thinking that someone or something is doing it to us. If only this person would stop picking on me…If only that person would go away…If only I had a better job, a better car, better hair…If only (fill in the blank here), I would be (pick one) happier, perfect, rich, okay, saved.
But what if I were to tell you that all those things that are keeping you stuck, all those people who are holding you back, all that baggage that is dragging you down–none of it really matters. No one, no thing, no situation controls you. No one, no thing, no situation is making you miserable. Guess who’s really making you miserable?
Yep, you got it: You.
“But, but, but…” I hear you say.
No, it’s really you. Trust me.
Now, I know you are not doing it to yourself on purpose. You don’t mean to keep yourself stuck. I know you are doing the best you can with what you think you got right now. You think you need more to be happy and you could definitely make some positive changes in your life. Couldn’t we all?
Yes and no. Everything you really need, you’ve had all along. You are golden, just the way you are. You don’t need anything else to be happy. Not that you shouldn’t feel free to develop and explore your interests. Don’t stop striving for your dreams. What you need to know, however, is that there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. Know also that the Big Dream is not the be all and end all. It doesn’t really matter if you make it or you don’t. It’s the journey along the way where all the fun is to be had.
You see, happiness is not for someday in the future when all your dreams come true. Happiness is right there inside you right now. You were born with it. It has always been there. And no one can take it away from you without your permission.
Remember Dorothy and her adventure to the Emerald City? Dorothy made some terrific friends along the way to meet the great and powerful Oz. But the wizard couldn’t give her or her friends anything they didn’t already have. In fact, it turned out, Dorothy had the means to get herself home to Kansas the whole time. Click, click, click.
And you have the means to get yourself home to happiness. You had it all the time.
Do I make it sound easy? That’s because it is (unless there is something chemical or otherwise serious going on. In that case, it’s helpful to explore your issues with an experienced doctor, psychologist or therapist). For your garden variety gripes and grouses, however, you may just need to look at your life a different way. I’m not a statistician, but I would say that 90% of life is showing up with the right attitude. No matter what happens to you in your life–and oh, things will happen, it’s true–you will have to deal. But it is the manner in which you deal with it that will make all the difference.
I myself have spent many a night trapped in the tower of my racing mind, unable to sleep, tossing and turning, worrying, agonizing, fretting about the future. I’ve spent days hiding from the world in my office, home or dorm room, not feeling like going out, angry at someone or some situation, fearful of my fate and I can tell you one thing about it:
It was a total waste of my time.
Well, maybe not a total waste. I guess I had to go through it so I could learn to set myself free by changing the channel of my mind; to learn that I can stop thinking about what is wrong and start thinking about what is right. I can count my blessings instead of my curses. And I’ve learned that my curses usually eventually turn out to be yet more blessings in disguise.
Now, maybe you might say that it is silly; that it’s all just in my Pollyanna head. And, I would have to agree with you on that. I’ve made up my mind see the best in everything and everyone. I’ve chosen to save myself by feeling love and compassion instead of fear and anger for the people and things that bother me. (Sometimes it is harder than others, but I’m practicing). What’s more, I can choose to focus on the people and things that I easily love and enjoy: My family, my friends, my blessings.
I hold the key.
And so do you, despite whatever wicked witch or wizard may be dogging you.
I’m very pleased to announce that Mediate.com, as an additional Membership benefit, is now hosting monthly online conversations with top mediators and conflict resolvers from around the world. Inspired by...By Colin Rule
"This article originally appeared in Track Two (Vol. 7 No. 2 August 1998) , a quarterly publication of the Centre for Conflict Resolution and the Media Peace Centre (South Africa)."Poorly...By Peter Woodrow