All other things being equal, there is a fundamental difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. I’m not talking about material success alone. I’m referring to a more holistic definition of success: leading a rewarding life. A life that’s fulfilling and meaningful is a life worth living, in my opinion. Everyone I know wants to feel fulfilled, happy, blissful, they want to feel complete, but it often doesn’t happen for most people. What is it that happy people know or do that the depressed don’t? What is the difference between the wise and the otherwise? Read on.
Once a man approached a realized master. He was restless and mostly unhappy with his life. The master asked him to meditate on light and peace for one hour every day.
“I’d love to meditate but, I’m so pressed for time that taking out even thirty minutes is a challenge.”
“This is just an excuse,” said the master. “You have time to work, to watch TV, to socialize, to read newspaper, to bathe, to eat, and you don’t have time to meditate?”
“It’s true, master. I honestly don’t have time. I even rush my breakfast.”
“Okay then, take a month off from work and stay here and meditate and I’ll help you train your mind.”
“Oh, I wish I could do that, but, what about my wife, my kids, my parents. I can’t afford to be away for one month.”
“Well, there’s nothing I can do for you in that case.”
“Meditation is easy for you, master, but, I’m a worldly man and have all the challenges of a householder. If I didn’t have those problems, I would happily sit and meditate just like you. I’ve come to you with great hope. Please give me an easier solution.”
“Alright. Take this mystical sword and swing it in the air four times before going to bed tonight. All your problems will be slashed, they will disappear by the time you get up tomorrow.”
Gladly, the man took the sword imagining his life free of all problems. Deeply he contemplated about the future, unblinkingly he looked at the sword but he couldn’t muster the courage to swing it. He took it back to the master the next day.
“I’m sorry, master, but, I can’t use it. You were right, they were not my problems but excuses. I thought about it intensely and realized that I can’t live without my excuses. What’ll be left in my life if I don’t have these excuses. They keep me busy.”
This leads me to stipulate the key difference between the happy and the unhappy people. Here: happy people don’t let excuses come in the way of life and unhappy people do the opposite. Winners transform their obstacles into challenges and they seek a sense of fulfillment in tackling them. The defeated ones turn their challenges into excuses and present them as reasons. What’s more, they actually genuinely believe that their excuses are valid. They always have a legitimate explanation behind their procrastination or non-action.
Mulla Nasrudin had been going out with a girl for a fair while. One day the father of the girl confronted Mulla and said, “Listen, young man, you’ve been seeing my daughter for many months now. I need to know whether your intentions are honorable or dishonorable?”
Nasrudin’s face lit up. “Do you mean to say, sir, that I have a choice?”
There’s always going to be a reason why you can’t go to the gym, or meditate, why you can’t quit smoking, or stop drinking, why you can’t live a certain way, or why you can’t prioritize effectively. The truth is, they are not reasons but excuses. It is simply a matter of attitude, of choice, a choice between finding an excuse or finding a way, between finding a meaning and rejecting one.
There’s always an alternative, an option to your present life. It may not be the most attractive one, for it may entail more toil and trials, but if you are determined and committed, your challenges will start to disband one by one. Living becomes an enjoyable journey then. Those challenges that once looked giant like the mammoth mountains dwindle away like the hollow trees in gusty winds. It all begins with a commitment to the next step. One step at a time.
In years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds, this beautiful life is fast passing by, and we are trying to obstruct its path by throwing excuses on its way like nails on a race track. Successful people focus on solutions while the rest build on problems. Be true to yourself; it helps.
The attitude of living happily springs from a basic trait in our personality. I’ll cover it next week.