Today I want to talk about how truly embracing the reality of your circumstance can have a profound effect on your life.
First, I want to clarify that I am not advocating for you to simply roll over and let the Universe treat you as its doormat; remember, we always have a choice. Rather, when I speak of acceptance, I’m referring to the fact that at this moment right now, your life and the world are exactly as they must be and cannot possibly be any other way. This may sound depressing or deterministic (See Monday’s post for a discussion of Determinism), but truly accepting and applying this concept to your life is actually quite liberating.
The first main pillar of my argument is that you and your life are the sum total of all the choices you have made up to that particular point in time. In fact, when you find yourself in an unpleasant or at least unexpected circumstance, you can usually trace your choices back to the one choice that led to your current situation. Additionally, we do not live in a sealed system; meaning that we do not live in isolation from others or in a controlled environment, so regardless of how carefully you plan and organize your thoughts and actions, you have to recognize that everyone else in the world, in fact, everyone who has ever lived, makes/made choices that are now reflected in and having an effect on where you find yourself at this moment. So, blaming others or Fate for your current situation is kind of like farting into a hurricane; it may feel good, but you are going to accomplish nothing, except perhaps making it slightly more unpleasant for those downwind.
As I mentioned many times before I took my sabbatical, everything we encounter in our lives simply is. A very popular and perhaps grossly overused phrase, at least in the United State is, “It is what it is”. Meaning the factual details of the situation are as they are, and are neither good nor bad, positive or negative. It isn’t until we introduce our ego into the equation that value judgments regarding the quality and ‘polarity’ of the situation begin to emerge. Because let’s face it, one person’s disaster may be another’s lucky break. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Once you have accepted that “It is what it is” you can then consciously and intentionally begin to make choices that, will hopefully, result in a reality more to your liking. Again, it all begins with a conscious choice of perspective. As the 17th Century, English poet John Milton said in Paradise Lost, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” This is what I’ve been trying to tell you; even when you are standing in the middle of a crap-storm, you can create ‘Heaven’ in your mind and be calm; regarding it all with a sense of gratitude and joy knowing, ‘Hey, it may not be pretty, but I’ll survive this and learn to do better next time.’ Or, you can surrender to the negative emotion of the situation and choose to live in ‘Hell’. Simple as that.
Another quote by Milton is equally as apropos as it is potent, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”. When you detach from the culturally conditioned emotional response to the words ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’, what you see is a vehement defense of individual consciousness and choice.
I believe what Milton was saying is that it is better to be true to yourself and happily follow the dictates of your own conscience, than surrender to the unconscious, sleep state most people call reality. However, this is dependent on your accepting that you are where you find yourself and you are largely responsible for that fact.
Even when it comes down to the final page in our life story, we still have a choice. As the Irish poet, Dylan Thomas advised, “Do not go gentle into that good night … Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ I’m reminded of a cartoon from many years ago, which shows an eagle swooping down on a mouse standing in the open; the mouse knows that it has nowhere to run so it stands straight, holds its head high and gives the eagle the middle finger. Choice and dignity in the face of overwhelming circumstances.
So, the question you have to answer is, are you going to reign in Hell or serve in Heaven? After all,
The Choice is Always Yours.
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