Yeah, you. The guy who won’t let me merge on the expressway. The fellow who doesn’t return my smile in the grocery store. The guy who complains about the movie while sitting behind me.
I want you to know how inspiring you are to me. I wish you weren’t so unhappy – I truly do. But, since I can’t change you, I choose to learn from you and find gratitude in your presence.
I used to be like you too. I used to think life was happening “to” me, as if I were a passive observer who had to suffer life’s whims like a flag being blow whichever way the wind took it. As if I had no control over my state of being and, instead, had my outlook dictated by whatever was happening around me (most of that being, in my view, not what I wanted).
I used to see people as my adversaries. As if life were a contest and, if I didn’t win, you would. We were all, in my view, fighting for a the same piece of that small pie I called “desired outcomes” of my life’s efforts.
I used to think that you were out to beat me, just as I wanted to beat you. That you were out to get me, even, so that I no longer posed a threat to you. Because that’s how I thought about everyone else.
I used to reserve my unprompted friendliness and smiles for people who had something I wanted. Giving out that stuff freely, I used to think, was at best wasted energy. And, at worst, showing weakness. I used to think you had to be tough to survive the daily grind.
Then something happened to me. I realized just how unhappy I was. I realized how miserable my life was day-to-day and how little enjoyment I ever felt. I realized just how much of my life I was missing out on by being fixated on everything that was “wrong”.
And I started looking to people who somehow retained their optimism and happiness amidst trying circumstances. How did they do that, I wondered, while I have everything a man could want, yet suffered daily?
And I asked them to teach me. They taught me how they did it and I listened; I let them teach me. And now I teach others their secrets. You can read how to do it too, if you ever get sick and tired of fighting life every day. If you, too, ever become willing to surrender like I did, having had enough pain.
And, once you do, you’ll find that surrendering this fight is how you win.
But until you do, I’ll wish you well. And be grateful for you because you’ve reminded me again today, when you took everything that was left of my favorite dessert on the buffet instead of sharing it with the guy who was obviously waiting behind you to have some, just how far I’ve come. And just how much I don’t want to return.
When it comes down to it, I’d rather be the one being reminded of this than the one doing the reminding! Bless you. And thank you.