What’s up folks,
It’s been just over a month since transitioning back to the U.S. after 6 months of working and traveling through South America. It’s been quite an interesting transition to say the least. Since I’ve returned, I’ve experienced a fair share of highs and lows, all of which have been good tests for me. There are a few things which I have learned through this transition that I’d like to share over the next couple of weeks. The first, being the most prevalent for me at the moment:
Happiness is a choice, not a circumstance
Boy oh boy – talk about a lifestyle shift. For the last 6 months, I had encountered new people, places, and experiences around every corner. Each day came with a new and exciting mission – explore nature, look within, face fears, challenge myself, connect with a stranger, etc. I was free. On my own. Doing what I wanted, when I wanted it and not having to answer to anyone…
Coming off of this exciting year, I was initially very eager to return home and put all of the learnings and experiences I had accumulated into practice. Once I arrived however, I quickly realized that not everything would be as I had initially envisioned. In an instant, my circumstance did a 180. I went from:
- Summer sun and beautiful beaches to rain, snow, and cold
- Complete autonomy to living back at my parents’ house for the first time in 8 years
- Novelty in everything I did to returning back to my quiet hometown of ~20 years where everything feels the same
- Being of service to incredible people every day to spending a majority of my time alone in an office, working remotely
Ram Das describes this test well “If you think you are so enlightened, go home and spend a week with your parents” He goes on to explain how the more shared past there is in a relationship, the easier it is to slip back into old habits and patterns – reliving the past .
So, It wasn’t long before I found myself in a bit of a funk. I was off, my mood wasn’t the same, and I wasn’t really engaging in life the same way. I began to blame my circumstance for my lack of mojo.
- “I can’t thrive here”
- “Winter sucks, I’m definitely a summer person”
- “My parents are smothering me”
I was allowing myself to become a victim of circumstance and it wasn’t until I was with my mother, venting about how “unfortunate” my situation was, that I finally realized what I was doing. As I was speaking, my mom listened patiently. When I finished, she simply looked at me and asked “Is this how you coach others?” ….OUCH…but true. As her comment sunk in, I was able to put enough distance between me and my thoughts to observe for the first time how soft and victimized I was allowing myself to be.
The fact of the matter is that happiness isn’t dependent on circumstance. We all know people who can make the best situations miserable, and others who can take a miserable situation and turn it into a positive experience. What is comes down to is focus and expectation.
Focus. In any circumstance, we choose what we will focus on. For instance, if you set a new year’s resolution and falter on it, will you focus on the fact that you failed and give up? Or will you focus on how that moment of weakness made you feel and use it to strengthen your resolve as you move forward? <– same situation, but the direction of focus yields very different outcomes. “There is no good or bad but thinking makes it so” – Shakespeare
Expectation. Nothing can kill joy like unmet expectations. We have expectations that people will behave in a certain way and when they don’t, we get sad or angry. We have expectations of what our lives should be and if we aren’t meeting those expectations, we feel unworthy. We have expectations for the outcome of our actions and if those expectations aren’t met, we become frustrated. It’s good to have goals, but dwelling on unmet expectations won’t lead you anywhere productive. Instead, we must tune into the present moment, and understand that everything in this moment is as it should be. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take responsibility to change a less-than-optimal situation, but never forget that the future is created in the present moment. Each moment comes with a set of choices that will either move you closer or further from your end goal. Stop resisting your current situation and start making the right choices each moment.
For me, I was focusing on the thought that I was “stuck back home with my parents” (outcome: frustration) rather than focusing on the fact that I have an amazing family who welcomed me back home with open arms while I prepare for my next move (outcome: gratitude). I had the expectation that my lifestyle back in the US would be the same as my lifestyle in South America, though rationally, I knew this phase would be a necessary step to continue moving forward.
Since that realization, I have been actively letting go of expectations and shifting my focus from the things that are “missing” in my current circumstance to view each moment as an opportunity to challenge myself, apply all of the things I’ve learned, and grow. The difference has been a gamechanger. Thanks for the reminder, Mom.
Long Story Short: “Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it because seeking is the antithesis of happiness” Eckhart Tolle
Thanks for stopping by. Stay classy 🙂