Your Reactions Fall Under Your Jurisdiction
Like just about everyone I know, I’m in a period of transition. It seems the whole planet is too, for that matter. There’s something about times like this when folks start stirring up the energy of the “the sky is falling” that makes me sit back and count my blessings. Oh, sure I could panic and allow myself to be overcome with anxiety. But gratitude… this is how I choose to react.
Being so busy getting my new book published, I didn’t get to it when everyone else did. But I finally just finished reading Liz Gilbert’s memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. She shares many very poignant self-reflections, but this particular passage really resonates with me. In it, Gilbert addresses how she chooses to get over the pervasive sense of powerlessness she sometimes feels:
There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint – please, please, please… give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life and says in weary disgust, “My son – please, please, please… buy a ticket.” …There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction. There are certain lottery tickets I can buy, thereby increasing my odds of finding contentment. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I eat and read and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life – whether I will see them a curses or opportunities (and on the occasions when I can’t rise to the most optimistic viewpoint, because I’m feeling too damn sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook). I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
Way to go, Gilbert! This is what I keep reminding myself… that my reaction to my circumstances and to other people around me, whether they be global figures or those in my intimate circle, is the one thing I have control over in this life. Therefore, I choose my own happiness through choosing my thoughts. Everything else is either an illusion I have or someone else has made up!