Life’s often unfair.
Bad things do happen to good people. Accidents, hurricanes, cancer, break-ups, divorce, unemployment…the list goes on. You have to deal with what has come your way, and it often doesn’t seem riight.
Question: Can you find joy, even when things look bad?
Problem: Since you were young, parents and teachers taught you a world view. Generally, this world view was a mix of religion and family philosophy. If you are like most of us, you’ve been inculcated with the notion that if you are good, you will be rewarded; and if you are bad you will be punished.
But, things do not always seem to act in accord with these rules. We see that good things happen to bad people, and that bad things happen to good people. As we grow older we see the world can be a cruel place. We discover that the things we were taught, do not necessarily hold true. So, what do we do ?
How do you seize joy if you’re hurt or disappointed?
One important answer is forgiveness.
We can learn to forgive when bad things happen. This is not to say we should welcome bad, but when unfortunate things come our way, we must learn to forgive—to forgive that bad can come into life out of nowhere. And, we must learn to forgive the people who taught us that if we do good, things will always be good.
When you open up your heart and mind, to forgive both your teachers and life itself (composed of G-d, Mother Nature, our fellow man), you give you a most precious gift. You open your self to the joy of life, by putting its bitterness into perspective. This is a blessing.
We’ve just experienced a national challenge—Superstorm Sandy. Despite the tragedies, despite the death, desolation, confusion and chaos, we can choose to forgive what has happened. How can our God allow nature to act this way?
Life can simply be unfair.
We can, and we must, mourn the losses. You may have to forgive your concept of God. Or, you may have to forgive a childhood that did not teach you that bad things do indeed happen to good people.
You may need to be outraged that your neighbor didn’t cut a tree down that impinged on your property—and she may need to pay—but you’re still mad. And, if you are politically inclined, you may find yourself enraged at local officials who allowed building to be built with no thought in mind that a disaster like this could ever happen. Some people benefited by not protecting us as they should have. Forgive and accept human greed and thoughtlessness; it’s everywhere.
Then, proceed to protect yourself in the future.
If you have been truly hurt by Sandy then forgiveness will only happen after a period of mourning. Don’t be surprised if you have swings of emotions from denial, to rage to depression to acceptance. It may be easier to feel the hurt of victimhood, and I, for one, don’t blame you. But, consider project of grieving and the power of forgiveness.
If you lost a loved one or your home; I am speechless in the face of such tragedy. The grieving will take time, but it is still the best hope for a better future.
But, for most of us, the lesson of Sandy is about perspective and forgiveness. Once you become consciously aware of what really matters, you may choose to forgive and not hold onto the less important things .
Here are 5 ways regain happiness in face of hardship.
1. Sense of Personal Mission
Your life counts. It is a blessing that you are here. So, what is your mission? Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Do you give to your friends, help youself grow, find a way to provide a helping hand. Do you make more love happen in this cold world? By having an awareness of who you are and having direction in your life, you can be a force for good.
There’s joy in living your life as its meant to be lived.
2. Staying Healthy – Psychologically, Spiritually and Physically
Do you take good care of your self? The great 1st centery sage, Hillel, was attributed to having said; “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I’m only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” It is not loving to allow others to take advantage of you. There is a joy in knowing that you are protecting yourself and that you are proactive in taking care of your health as well.
We can’t help others if we truly neglect ourselves.
3. Embrace the Good
Yes, you have been hurt; maybe badly. There is no good answer in this world for suffering. It’s the human condition and some suffer much more than others. Just note that it’s one thing to be a victim; it’s quite another to become a victim of your victimhood. You are still a person with dignity. Grab whatever good is around you. Embrace it. A neighbor who cares; a brother who comes through, a beautiful day that warms your heart. There is joy out there, even if you have to dig deep.
I often tell my patients, grab the good, because bad will surely find you.
4. Accept Things
You must learn to accept. This does not mean to deny or forget that bad things happen, or that others have wronged you. You need to make peace with the bad in your life. To forgive does not mean to forget. Acceptance means to protect yourself as well as let go of the victim postion that can poison your life. Don’t allow an abusive ex husband to hurt you. Get the protection that you require. Vote agianst a government or municipality that failed you. Distance yourself from people who let you down when you needed them the most. But, let go of toxic anger that only will make you sick.
There is a sweet joy in being freed from hate.
5. The Art of Forgiveness
Sometimes you have to grieve a lot in order to forgive. You go through stages; denial, bargaining, anger, depression and then acceptance. You choose to forgive in order to live life fresh and realistically. Once you learn to forgive the people and events that have occurred, liberate yourself by openning up to the goodness of the world. Whether it was Sandy, a divorce, a troubled daughter or a bad illness, it’s necessary to mourn the unfair nature of the universe and come out of it with your dignity intact;
Pain can lead to wisdom, and this is a meaningful sort of joy.
“When you forgive you in no way change the past, but you sure do change the future” –Bernard Meltzer
Life is not easy for any of us. Deal with the bad and accept that it’s not fair. Learn your lessons and make whatever changes are required.
But, don’t forget to seize the joy.
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