I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, which is not swept away by the torrent of events, which is not the creature of accidental impulse, but which bends events to its own improvement, and acts from an inward spring, from immutable principles which it has deliberately espoused. -William Ellery Channing
Is your mind free? Are you able to make the best of every situation, or at least see the best if the situation is out of your control? Or do circumstances determine how you feel, how you react, and how you see yourself?
Part of the purpose of our life experiences, I’m certain, is to help us to learn to be independent of circumstances. Yes, things happen, and many bad things happen to us and to those we love. But when we finally reach a point at which our own peace of mind or our own self-esteem aren’t affected by what happens to and around us, then we are close to becoming the people we were meant to be. When we constantly react to situations, the person that other people see is depending on the circumstances to define him or herself. We should be able to define ourselves on our own terms, not on the terms of circumstance or coincidence.
Yes, it is difficult. It takes focus and effort to learn from events rather than to let them define us. It takes courage and commitment to devote ourselves to our principles that will allow us to live freely and lovingly, and to maintain that devotion even in the face of diversity.
Life flows, life moves, life changes. Part of our task, while we’re here on earth, is to establish ourselves as islands in the stream, islands that will stand strong no matter what the weather, islands that will withstand the torrents of any kind of weather, living a life of principles that will keep us strong no matter what life is sending by us or to us.
Questions to consider:
- Why are principles so important to a person who’s trying to be happy?
- Why do we so often let life “get the best of us”?
- How do we seem to learn those outward circumstances are so important to us? How do we learn (incorrectly) that our worth is determined or defined by outer circumstances?
For further thought:
Don Juan assured me that in order to accomplish the feat of making myself miserable I had to work in the most intense fashion and that it was absurd. I had now realized I could work just the same in making myself complete and strong. “The trick is in what one emphasizes,” he said. “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” -Carlos Castaneda