Be Flexible to Be Happy
Often we feel frustrated. We perceive this sensation on the surface but fail to realize what's behind this state of unhappiness, annoyance, and resignation. We can end up anchored for years in discomfort, resisting life's will, angry with ourselves, or resentful towards others because we hold onto the rigid belief that things should be different, people should change, and we should have done this or that...
Have you ever thought about how much valuable life time we lose by going back in time and reproaching ourselves for what couldn't be? How much energy do we waste insisting on twisting what is or straightening what isn't? How much do we erode our self-love by reproaching or judging ourselves for past mistakes, scolding ourselves for what we couldn't do differently, or for not realizing it back then...?
What characteristic lies behind this unnecessary suffering that keeps us at odds with our life?
Without a doubt, it's the lack of flexibility. That's right... rigidity and resistance to what is, leaves us exhausted, angry, stuck, and resentful. And this last word is very appropriate to represent the stagnation in which we stay, stranded looking at the past, "re-feeling" over and over what remained undigested and unable to be accepted. We take too long to realize that this attitude doesn't take us anywhere different from where we are, which we constantly complain about. Tirelessly and without a break, we replay the same mental song titled "I would have liked..."
Immersed in a melancholic and hopeless emotional atmosphere, we convince ourselves that what wasn't in its time cannot be, that if things didn't happen as we had planned, then everything is in vain.
We stay demanding from Life, like children, a "blank slate" to start over and make different strokes... We wait, and wait, and the clean sheet pad we long for is not sold anywhere... Life passes us by, and we continue to be stubborn about how we would have liked things to have been. We whisper to ourselves:"
"I would have wanted to start a family..."
"I would have wanted to finish college..."
"I would have wanted to dare to take that difficult step..."
"I would have wanted to have children, or to not have them..."
"I would have wanted to travel..."
"I would have wanted so... many other things!"
In the end, rigid people, instead of wholeheartedly committing to doing something valuable with their lives today, childishly yearn to be reborn to do things differently. And without realizing it, they waste opportunities that are unseen because they keep looking back, at that love that couldn't be, at that opportunity that couldn't materialize. They spend years mourning the idealized that wasn't possible, instead of doing what's possible with what is or can be.
In this state of absolute rigidity, we fail to see other options or create new possibilities. With a jolt, we discard them because we tell ourselves over and over that nothing compares to that imagined picture.
Without realizing it, we fall into the very human tendency to always desire and yearn for what we lack. As a famous singer-songwriter says in his melody Lucía... 'There is nothing more beautiful than what I have never had, nor anything more loved than what I have lost...' Trapped by this delusion, we tell ourselves the story that just what we don't have would have been the panacea of happiness, the 'eureka' of personal fulfillment. In reality, this rigidity makes us addicted to what we lack and blind to what is worthy of gratitude. We cheat ourselves every time we fall into the fruitless vice of longing for longing. Hypnotized by an ideal that wasn't, we sink into a kind of mental masturbation and imagine over and over how the movie of our lives would have been if we had changed channels.
The more dissatisfaction we feel with our current life when comparing it to the mental sketch we had as ideal, the more inflexibility hides in our way of thinking and appreciating reality.
Cheer up! A life of fulfillment doesn't have one right path and others wrong. If one of the paths is cut off, the intelligent and most sensible thing is to build alternative ways that bring us closer to a state of well-being, which can be reached in as many ways as our mental flexibility allows us!"
It seems that Google Maps is smarter than us in navigating life. Those who know this app are aware that there's a suggested route initially plotted when we indicate where we want to go. If we miss a turn or make a mistake, it doesn't stop working or start complaining. With admirable flexibility, it quickly 're-calculates', re-positions itself, and offers not just one but several alternative paths to reach the same destination.
As Tibetan Buddhism tells us, we all yearn to be happy and no one wants to suffer. Happiness is not tied to achieving a specific concrete goal. Happiness is more akin to a state of internal peace that we can experience if we go through life unfolding our awareness in front of every experience we encounter.
Learning to let things flow without resisting what manifests saves us much of the unnecessary suffering we generate when we remain attached to unrequited love, disappointment, deceit, or something we feel as a failure. When we impose ourselves upon life with arrogance and rigidity, life itself teaches us that much of what we demand is not in our hands. Embracing our circumstances, whatever they may be, and making the best of them, is to honor the life that beats in each of us. From the acceptance of what is, it is possible to improve and beautify what is within our reach. Resisting and getting angry is investing valuable energy that we could be using to improve, in something that harms us and keeps us paralyzed in the past.
The recipe to get out of the swamp of this unnecessary suffering is to become more flexible, flexible, flexible. Just because our life today is different from what we thought, doesn't mean it's worse or that we can't be happy.
In the end, what harms us the most is the comparison between the ideal and the real, between what could have been and what is... In truth, if we stop to reflect on our circumstances, most of the time they are not so bad when we evaluate them objectively. For example, we may lack the life partnership we dreamed of, but we have more time for ourselves, good friends, a good job, a healthy body, and a place to return to when we feel tired.
We all count on what we cannot lack, we count on ourselves... to give ourselves loving and compassionate treatment, which is the true inexhaustible source of happiness. The prosperity we long for is not located anywhere outside of us; it's in the attitude we assume daily. That's what, in the end, makes us more or less fortunate.
When we raise our gaze and abandon rigidity, we are very close to that happiness which seems so far away when we let ourselves be swallowed by the stubbornness of our ego attached to the past.
It's essential that you learn to distrust the conclusions you reach when you are in a state of sadness. Not everything in your life can be so bad, and much of what you wish to be different is within your reach if you're willing to be flexible.
You can no longer turn back time to complete your degree on time, but you can still get your diploma if, instead of complaining and justifying, you put in your best effort. Perhaps you can no longer return to that partner you cry over when you remember them, but that doesn't mean you can't fall in love again if you open your heart and look beyond your great disappointment. We must always keep in mind that something good accomplished is better than something perfect never done.
We resist every time we insist, we wear ourselves out every time we push, we exhaust ourselves every time we get angry. On the other hand, when we learn to flow with the course of our existence, we enjoy a lightness and agility to be flexible and adapt to our life situation in the most fertile and fruitful way. From this state of non-resistance to what is, we can massage what is not going well to stop it from hurting and beautify our lives by making the best strokes and the most conscious brushstrokes.
To be able to open, we need to close. To be able to take, we need to let go. To be able to live and feel happiness, the priority above all is to be capable of being flexible.