When we’re upset it’s easy for any of us to point the index finger of disdain at a spouse, politician, friend, or boss. But such mental finger-pointing provides, at best, short-term consolation. Respite is fleeting, inner struggle endures. The opiate of blame is brief balm.
Is there a reliable path to inner peace? Yes, there is. But it’s up to you, and you alone, to regain and sustain your personal inner peace. Ay, there’s the rub.
From 2008 until two weeks ago I’ve been unhappy (no reflection on Sprite or anyone else). I personally blamed the economy, with more than a little justification. From 2008 through 2012 my business hemorrhaged money, investors lost a great deal of income, and I’ve never in my life received so many letters and telephone calls of complaint. I read news stories about people losing their homes. Many of my friends lost their jobs. I came to understand why my father would walk half a mile to avoid a twenty-five cent parking fee. He was in his teens when the Great Depression hit and left its mark.
Ed, a long-term friend of mine, recently said, “Alan, for the past year you’ve seemed a lot happier than you used to be.”
Many other friends and family members have mentioned that I’ve seemed happier during the past twelve months, and I suppose I have – at least on the outside (stiff upper lip and all that). But inner peace remained elusive, obscured behind my continuing inner turmoil.
Like my father, I’m always thinking. My inner conversation has no “off” switch. I always ask myself how I can improve [fill in the blank].
Two weeks ago, for no particular reason, I experienced an “Aha!” moment. I said to myself:
“I’ve been pushing too hard.
“I’ve been married to my business for 50 years. During the past twenty I remember only two days when I left my office satisfied with what I’d accomplished. Two days in twenty years. That sucks. I’ve pushed myself hard regardless of my personal situation, the policies of the president, or the state of the economy.”
Though all of the above still concern me, I realize that my inner peace has nothing to do with any of that. As they say, we can’t control what happens to us but we can control our reaction to it.
During the past two weeks I’ve been authentic. I’ve relaxed and enjoyed conversations with friends. I’ve been more productive at work because the boogeyman of “never enough” has left the building. Today I’m exactly as happy as I seem.
I must also mention that for many years my father has been a gem. He’s always upbeat, considers each day a bonus, and says “thank you” whenever I call or visit. He uses many medications, but not the drug of blame. Despite inevitable physical decline, Dad seems far happier than he was at the youthful age of ninety.
Today is a great day. My inner peace no longer hides behind a cloud. So now I’m free to focus on world peace. Your suggestions are welcome.
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