Have you ever wondered why is it that the relentless pursuit of happiness actually perpetuates its fleetingness? Well, that is because happiness is a transitory state that comes in tides. Blindly pursuing happiness will only make it harder to attain, to the point you won’t even truly enjoy it once you have it. It has been written that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”. Consequently, the secret lies in fully enjoying those blissful moments when they come, finding meaning in suffering while being fully aware that this agony shall pass as well. It was Dr. Frankl who reminded us that “it is we ourselves who must answer the question that life asks of us, and to these questions we can respond only by being responsible for our existence”. I highly recommend reading his book to anyone seeking answers to the meaning of his life, it is a truly inspirational work that Dr. Frankl has blessed us with. Quite frankly, I am appalled that, out of all psychology classes I have had, only one teacher introduced me to his works.
Throughout this journey, I have had to learn how to let go and trust in the process, while making the conscious decision to responsibly embrace whatever arises in the moment. To tell you the truth, this realization has been life-changing, and I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it. It is with this same conviction that I am always willing to unmask all these façades refraining me from expressing my truest self in hopes that anyone who reads these stories, may find it in himself to truly seek what life is asking of him. Dr. Frankl ends his post-script with a powerful statement:
So, let us be alert – alert in a twofold sense:
Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.
This really hit me hard, because I grew up witnessing the type impact the Genocide of Rwanda had on my parents, my family, and many more Rwandans who lost their loved ones during a tragic era. At an early age, I understood the significance of love and empathy. I saw the power of positive thinking change people’s lives. For this same reason, I will continue to share messages of hope, love, and empathy because we need them now more than ever. In this blog, I contemplate on three keys that helped me to rediscover myself, and have no doubt that it can spark the same energy within you:
- Living in the past: it is imperative to understand that the past comes to life based on how much life we give it. When a person is discontent with a task at hand, or his current circumstances, it is quite common to retrace his thoughts toward where he went wrong or what he could have done to improve the current situation that he is in. This is a compulsive-destructive thinking, and one must become aware of this perpetuating loop. I have found that these 3 questions help me the most, to get out of this whenever it happens: Does this state of restlessness add any more hours to my life? Does this add any commas to my bank account? And can I change the situation right now? What I have come to realize is that: whenever the opportunity to change the situation is available, I can change it there and then, and forget the unease I was feeling. On the other hand, when it is beyond my control, I simply let go and continue to be one with the present flow.
- Responsibility: this always brings me back to the saying of “practice makes perfect”. My uncle used to drearily entrench this concept in our heads, especially whenever we had messed up. However, it wasn’t until recently the power of responsibility really dawned on me, because responsibility paired with the personal destiny at hand, are what pave the way for an individual to fulfill his purpose. Literally, each moment one is faced with the responsible awareness to make a decision that will add meaning to his life. This is clearly not an easy task, but once a person unconditionally abides to this attitude, things do get better, and perhaps when it doesn’t, that person is still able to find meaning in his suffering. Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”. Ambition is an admirable attribute, but it can be equally deceptive to the point where a person surrenders his integrity. Ultimately, one must realize that he possesses the responsible choice to be content with whatever the circumstances, and work toward finding what life is asking of him.
- Tools to kickstart this journey: there is an abundance of resources that can help anyone to truly find what life is asking of him. Surprisingly enough it is usually things that we often take granted for, such as:
- Helping others
- Listening to someone’s pain and connecting with him or her at a deeper level just to show them that their feelings are valid and do matter.
- Finding beauty in nature, art, music, or other aesthetics that you may be passionate about
- Volunteering work, learning new skills, and last but not least, traveling and experiencing new terrains
All things can truly work out for the good if you allow them to be. Always remember that whenever faced with a challenging task, the power to respond to that situation always lies in you. Run your own race, it is a marathon; live, endure, and most of all, enjoy it.
Life on the Narrow Path...