In her book Happier At Home, Gretchen Rubin says “Happiness is not having less; happiness is not having more; happiness is wanting what I have.”
Though she is speaking specifically about possessions, the underlying idea is true to the overall theme of her book and of many of my recent musings about life in general.
The well known and oft-quoted Serenity Prayer implores:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference.
I find that I can do the first two fairly well – accept the things I cannot change, and summon the courage to change the things I can. But the third is much more challenging – the wisdom to know the difference. Our emotions and perspectives are here to inform us and we should listen to what they have to teach us. If we ignore them, they will control us without our awareness. But once acknowledged and understood they must be tempered, put in perspective, and often surrendered.
Most of us in the Western world with access to the internet to read this post are surrounded by extravagant privilege of choice. But this (perceived) freedom to make your own destiny comes with its own set of shackles – the great responsibility to make things just as they should be in a reality that is still outside of our control and certainly not centered on our desires. When does that sense that things must change need to be surrendered for the sake of contentment? When must it be allowed to grow into the courage to fight for change?
These are questions to wrestle with for a lifetime.
This post was inspired by Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin where she runs a nine month experiment to create happier surroundings. Join From Left to Write on January 6 we discuss Happier at Home. You can also chat live with Gretchen Rubin on January 7 on Facebook! As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.