Sunday, April 4, 2010
The Happiness Project (click the THP label on your right for more info)
How many of the opinions you had 5 years ago have not changed? I was presented this question during one of those heated classroom debates in college. You know that rare instance when even the quiet guy in the back of the class expresses a brief moment of interest. For me the answer was simple 75 percent of my opinions from 5 years ago have not stood the test of time. I had opinions on all sorts of stuff. I had opinions on how everyone else should act, how the world works, how my hair should look, the list goes on and on. Your opinions are your beliefs they transcend into your actions. If it wasn't for an underlying opinion that all customer service representatives are dumb I would not speak to them as though they were children.
One of my opinions about life has just been shattered. I never realized I held this opinion it just kind of became part of my life, that little secret ingredient that made me who I was. I actually embraced it, stamped my seal of approval and said onward with the rest of my magnificent existence. I have grown to understand the constancy of certainty is change. Eventually our path to growth persuades us to shed the beliefs that don’t serve us. Like a snake shedding its skin. Some beliefs are so ingrained into us that it takes a magnitude of an event or events to finally realize they no longer serve any purpose in the life we want to live.
I live a life full of responsibilities, less than some, more than others. I also have a very leisurely attitude regarding time. I don’t see a specific point to going to class unless necessary and by necessary I mean it must be a very strict class requirement. I have been late all my life. Lateness to me is slightly fashionable. Actually I cruise very whimsically through my life. I never think a slight lateness will ever cost me much. I once showed up to an interview for Citibank in which the manager actually wanted to start an argument with me about my 5 minute lateness from the previous interview. Yea, I didn’t get that job. I have held on to this belief that I can go through my life late. Lateness has never been too much of an issue to keep me behind, it has just served as a slight nuisance but never caused me much harm. Today I was my usual 5 min late, for check in at the airport. I made my way calmly with my beliefs packed neatly in my luggage along with my bras and panties. “ Hi I'm late I think” I said. I realize now my attitude was so “eh whatever”. “ Yes 5 minutes late” the voice behind the counter expressed. I never made it on that 2:30 flight. My poor 21 year old heart, once filled with excitement and hopes of uniting with my friends behind the gates, was crushed with disappointment. My wallet also suffered a heavy 50 dollar defeat for the booking of a later flight.
March has been dedicated to discipline. Starting out this month was about keeping my promises. All month I have embraced situations that required me to keep the promises I made to myself. I aimed at forgetting my “people pleaser” mentality and focus on the only voice I hear when my head hits the pillow at night. I realize now this month of discipline stems from feeling not in control over my time. It never crossed my mind that my beliefs/opinions where constantly there, serenading my unconscious decisions. My opinion on lateness was so ingrained in my brain that even after missing my flight it honestly took me some time before realizing I had no reason for being late. I could not blame traffic, the weather, or another person. My opinion of lateness was the cause of my disappointment.
Take a look at your actions, even the ones that seem harmless. Think about what underlying opinions those actions express. Ask yourself if they contribute to some area of your life you are not happy with. Its hard to look at your actions so bluntly. Its hard to not make excuses for yourself. I know I try my best to be kind to myself.
I have an opinion that has truly held its own for a long time. Be kind to yourself but acknowledge your wrongs. It took me missing a plane to realize; where my life is going the idea of lateness being completely OK has no place. Don’t wait until the moment you miss a plane or an opportunity or a life to recognize the opinions that don’t serve you.
“Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.” –Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche