I love this quote by Nisargadatta Maharaj. This is such a great reminder of how beautiful life can be if you live by these principals.
I used to have an attitude or belief that my problems were all that mattered. I was always thinking about my problems, my life, my wants, my needs, my stuff, my lack, my suffering, etc. I was very busy trying to get things to be the way I wanted them.. the way I THOUGHT they SHOULD BE. I was always a victim and something was always happening TO ME! Everything that happened in life that didn’t fit with my set of personal preferences was a problem, so I had lots of problems. I had an attitude that I deserved a better life and it was not fair when things didn’t go my way. One of my frequently used phrases was “why does this always happen to ME?!!” All my bad choices and circumstances (alcohol, drugs, abusive relationships, etc) were because somebody did me wrong, either in that instant or at some distant time in the past, and It wasn’t my fault!
Through my process of recovery, I was able to change my attitudes and beliefs and realize that most of my suffering was caused by my own self-importance and misguided sense of what life was all about. Once I started practicing yoga and meditation I started to see everything more clearly. I began to have insight through the practice of self-inquiry, and I was able to see the truth in each situation and how my attitude about it could change everything! If I practiced having an attitude of gratitude, my life looked much better than if I had an attitude of entitlement. Slowly, I got down off my high horse and began to live more humbly. One of my favorite quotes is from Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life” which says: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”. I found this to be profoundly true in my own life. I had been thinking about myself and my perceived problems constantly. I was making unimportant things important and leaving behind the most important things; like my children.
Once I began practicing humility, I became willing to see my own neurosis. The more I lived from this place of humility, the more real and honest I became, and the better I felt about myself. I had to stop pretending to be someone I was not and accept myself just the way I was, a train wreck, which would take a long time to clean up and get back on track.
Eventually, through continuing to practice gratitude and humility and by letting go of self-importance and entitlement, I began to see myself in a better light. I began to love the real me. I finally found the love that I had always been seeking, and it was right here inside me. I had been seeking love outside myself for decades, living the life of the “hungry ghost” that Gabor Mate talks about in his book about addiction and trauma. He describes the hungry ghost as “the domain of addiction, where we constantly seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment. The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need.”
What I learned from my own experience is that what I really needed was to love and accept myself. Love is knowing I am everything…already! There is nothing I need to do, be, acquire, aspire to, perfect, etc. I just needed to be me, and love who I am. So now, years later, the train of my life is flowing pretty smoothly along the tracks to wherever life is taking me. The things I thought mattered most, the things I thought I had to GET in order to be HAPPY, I still don’t have them. Life still happens without concern for my list of preferences. Life is still life but I have changed my attitude about it. Now I practice acceptance and gratitude, which gives me FREEDOM from wishing that what has already happened were different than it is.
Now, instead of thinking about myself all the time, I think about how I can make a difference in the lives of others. How can I help another person find the love inside themselves? How can I help others to find FREEDOM from suffering? How can I show up in a way that inspires and uplifts everyone I meet? Now I know that life is not about getting…It’s about loving and giving and connecting to others in a meaningful way. Turns out, if you align yourself with love and humility, life is beautiful, and you don’t need anyTHING to make it so.
Wishing you all love and happiness!