On the surface, pain or joy doesn’t seem to be a choice, but in the vast majority of instances it is. Of course we can’t prevent the physical pain that occurs when our bodies stop functioning in the way they were intended to function, but these occurrences are typically few and far between.
The vast majority of our pain is emotional. Our doubts, fears, anxiety, regrets, and frustrations are typically of our choosing. True, the choices are often made subconsciously, but they are our choices regardless.
The key to joyful living, and limiting the pain we experience, is making choices consciously. We can:
- Nurture our doubts or recall what we’ve previously accomplished and move forward confidently.
- Allow our fears to prevent us from realizing our dreams or set them aside with the knowledge that our ability to learn and adapt assures success.
- Remain anxious or find quiet time to reflect on the source of our anxiety knowing that once it’s identified, we’ll know how to move forward confidently.
- Nurture our regrets or acknowledge what we learned from these situations that will help us avoid making the same mistake in the future, which assures us a brighter, more joyful future.
- Continue to frustrate ourselves with unreasonable expectations or set more reasonable, attainable goals for ourselves.
It’s easy to see which choice causes pain and which brings joy. Having said that, all of the choices listed above have one thing in common, they are egocentric. They are all focused on what we want and how to get what we want. There is another key to joyful living which also involves making a conscious choice: the choice to be other centric.
In order to illustrate this point, I’m going to share a personal experience that enables me to experience joy not just each day, but multiple times a day. A book about Buddha stated that everyone, upon leaving Buddha’s presence, felt better about themselves. As soon as I read that I thought “I want to be like that.” I began consciously looking for ways to leave everyone I meet better off than before we met, even if it was only to give them a reason to smile.
Since then I’ve continued the practice each and every day. Not only do I gain psychic rewards from having helped another person by encouraging them when things aren’t working as they’d hoped, or in helping them celebrate a success they’ve experienced, I severely limit the amount of pain I experience and enjoy their support in each and every endeavor I pursue.
I don’t expect anything in return for helping another person. The psychic reward is more than sufficient. The joy I feel in knowing that I helped someone, the sense of being both valued and valuable as a result of helping another person, are treasures that money can’t buy.
If I were to help others with the expectation of getting something in return from them, I would convert an act of kindness into a transaction…one that they neither sought nor appreciated.
When I observe others expecting something in return from a person they help, I find that they not only create resentment for their actions, they ruin the opportunity to develop a life-long friendship with that person.
What am I trying to say?
Realize that when you’re experiencing pain, you’ve chosen to be egocentric. You can alleviate your pain by choosing to leave people you meet better off than before you met. You’ll quickly replace your pain with the highest level of joy any human being can experience. It’s a matter of choice.
For our kids
First and foremost, live this message. Your kids will see how happy, kind and compassionate you are day in and day out and they’ll mimic that behavior for it’s our nature to seek joy and avoid pain.
When you see kids doubtful, fearful, anxious, regretful and frustrated, help them realize that their pain is a matter of the choice they’ve made. When they deny having made a choice, teach them the difference between subconscious and conscious choice so that they can make their choices more consciously going forward. They’ll be forever grateful to you for this wisdom.
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