If you’re like me, you’re always looking to find that clean slate in life. A slate that is free of major stress and worry caused by whatever concerns you may have: health, financial, personal, or career. We all look for that place in our lives where everything is firing on all cylinders—we’re in great shape and feeling awesome, we’re connected with community and friends, our business is making a ton of money and we’re finding success.
But then, something happens—a new stress or worry—and we’re suddenly in crisis mode again. Our great state of mind is derailed for however long we’re dealing with that particular thing.
I’m a hypochondriac. I have horrible anxiety. It mostly stems from a worry about my health. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve rushed myself to the emergency room in the middle of the night because I thought something was seriously wrong with me. This constant worry has led to horribly depressing periods in my life when my mental state was so fucked up, I was desperate to do anything to just feel “normal” again.
These anxious periods have always derailed my happiness. I always felt that I could never find happiness when I had an issue I was dealing with or worrying about because it took up so much real estate in my mind. There was no room for joy or laughter because my demons and worry dragons had thrown the world’s worst party and invited all their awful friends over to shit on my happiness and puke all over my peace of mind.
So I’d be happy for a few months, feeling good. Then something would come up that would thrust my good state off a cliff and I’d suffocate myself into survival mode for the next three months. Wasting time. Isolating myself. Shutting myself off from the world. My happiness was fragile and fleeting because of my innate tendency to immediately go catastrophic in my head.
And then I found meditation, which was the starting point in helping me learn how to keep the enemies in my head at bay. But mostly, I got so tired of feeling fucking awful all the time. Life is short. I didn’t want to be miserable anymore. I wanted to be happy.
I knew that my joy and happiness was my right and I was going to fight for it. So I had to do everything in my fucking power to learn how to control my thoughts and remove my own self-enforced internal suffering, once and for all.
This is what regular meditation practice has taught me: your life will never be free of stress or worry. In other words, we will never have a clean slate. There is always going to be something lodged at the back of our mind that is eating away at us every single day. The key is how we react to that stress, how we manage it, and whether or not we allow it to take up real estate in our minds.
Stresses and worries will continuously cycle and flow through your life. You will eradicate one worry or stress, but another will soon reveal itself. It’s an endless cycle. It’s the nature of life.
It’s important to ask yourself if this certain stress or worry is even going to be an afterthought a year from now?
If not—if it’s something that will eventually solve itself—there is no sense in allowing it to ruin your present moment of happiness. Just allow it to exist, to be there right now. Just don’t give it the power to derail or consume you. Have faith that it will work itself out in time, just as all things do—which you’ve learned firsthand from new stresses and worries entering your life and leaving your life.
Once we learn that these bumps in life never completely go away, it allows us to continue to hold onto peace when things get a little rocky, or we get unlucky and some hand of misfortune comes our way. This builds a protective layer or moat around our happiness (things we can control by how we interpret them) versus external forces we can’t control (life stresses and worries). Because we know these stresses and worries are simply just waves rocking the boat a little—strong enough for us to know they’re there, but not strong enough to drown us.
If you’re waiting for a clean slate (or a life firing on all cylinders) and a stress and worry-free time period in your life to be happy, then like my happiness, it will be fleeting and fragile. You’ll end up spending so much of your life unhappy and unproductive when you could have fought harder for your happiness and told yourself that happiness and joy is your right.
Nobody can give you that joy or take that joy away from you, but you. So fight for it. Don’t let worry and stress beat your tenacity to feel joy in your life.
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