There are moments when I truly believe that the world and its people are out to get me. Every rainy day, red light and nasty email are a direct assault on my well-being and are specifically meant to stifle my efforts at a peaceful existence. Anything and everything falls in my disfavor and screams at me to lash out in fear at those that cross my path. However, there are also moments of complete contentedness and understanding where everything I do fits in to the grand design that has been lain out in front of me. Days characterized by overwhelming energy, a seamless workflow, no lines and finding exact change in front of a parking meter when I am running a few minutes late, seemingly random events, are all clear affirmations of a brilliant outlook and approach to life. Attempting to understand this dichotomy and why such mysterious forces have so much influence upon my outlook of life, I have realized that the quality of my experience and my level of serenity are directly dependent upon my ability to recognize my discontent, identify its source and turn that knowledge in my favor.
While it is widely accepted that unrelenting love and acceptance are the keys to happiness, the trick lies in identifying what separates the days of endless productivity and abundance from those of complete chaos and selfish defeat. In order to do this, I must willingly acknowledge my discontent so that I can take appropriate action towards resolution. Unfortunately the self-awareness and introspective thought required to recognize what befalls me can be difficult, but is absolutely necessary if I wish for a serene and peaceful existence. I have found that the best way for me to begin this process is by asking myself a series of simple questions that encourage reflection and self-discovery. Am I treating others the way that I would like to be treated? Is there something hindering my ability for me to help others? Am I faithfully representing my intention for the day and the love I have for those in my life? While this is easier said than done, I have found that this reflective process flows more smoothly when I build “pause” moments in to periods of anxiety to help prevent my emotions from getting the best of me. Before I raise my voice or flip an innocent bystander some unflattering hand gesture, I pause and reflect on my motives and what I can do to be of better service to myself and my peers.
After I recognize that I’m in a bad place, I try and identify its source. Knowing the circumstances of my discontent helps me to gain a greater understanding of what I can do in order to prevent hypersensitive moments in the future. This may be an overly simplistic approach, but experience has taught me that my attention is most likely to turn inward when I am either hungry, tired or restless. When was the last time I ate, napped or stepped away from my work? Is my current environment causing anxiety or am I allowing the people around me to influence my emotions? Have I had any quality human contact today or have I taken the time to do something to improve my spiritual condition? Putting a name and face on the source of my frustration allows me to move past what is blocking me from my serenity. For me, simpler is often better and if I can distill any emotion down to its fundamental parts, I am that much closer to working past my troubles.
Finally, after identifying the source of my frustration, I take the actions necessary to get myself out of my head and help me return to my place of acceptance and serenity. I snack when I am hungry, nap when I am tired and move when I am restless. As long as I aware that these simple problems are good at masking themselves in a tangled web of emotions, I am well-equipped to handle them in a productive way that minimizes collateral damage. More often than not, I can employ one all-purpose “tool” to help me overcome the problems that I am presented. When feelings of fear or inadequacy overwhelm my thoughts, I must expose my self to the unremitting love of Mother Nature. No matter how many people step on my toes or how the unknown forces of the world present themselves, the peace I get from stepping away from the turmoil by stepping into my running shoes is unparalleled. This is my magic bullet. The one tool that is most effective in allowing me to achieve and maintain serenity. By centering myself in the expanse of nature, I am provided the perspective I need to escape my own disillusioned thoughts and turn my attention outward.
I understand that trying to find something as nebulous, elusive and intangible as serenity can prove quite difficult. I personally spent a considerable amount of time spinning my wheels looking for the pink cloud of happiness or that magical spot of surrender and acceptance. Often I tried to find that oneness so hard that I sent myself into a state of complete upheaval where I would spend an immeasurable amount of time and energy focusing on my self and the disservices that may have been committed against me. This place of discontent is spiritually toxic where it is almost impossible to be of service to others. I must always remember that there will be good and bad days. Life will always happen and its course is, more often than not, beyond our control. However, as long as I can recognize my emotions, identify their source and utilize the tools I have been given to overcome my own destructive tendencies, I will find serenity and can then better serve my self and my fellows.