It has taken me half my life to practice what I was taught in my youth about how self-mastery produces happiness and inner peace. What a journey it’s been to get to this point. Along the way, I’ve felt a great deal of disappointment and anger; each time blaming life and others for not living up to my expectations. There was almost no ownership of my role in determining how I felt or chose to experience life. As a child, family members and teachers saw something special in me. They also noticed how I reacted when things didn’t turn out they way I thought they should. I berated life for being uncooperative, accused others of not trying harder and blamed myself for putting my fate in someone else’s hands. These wise people would say to me, “Keith, if you want to be happy, you need to learn how to let go of things outside of your control and direct your energy towards mastering yourself. Choose not to be angry, when your ego pulls you in that direction. Let go of perceived slights or broken promises by others. Release it all to make room for peace and gratitude to feel the space.” Great advice, I know, but I didn’t understand how I could possibly do it.
As I grew older and accomplished more, I found myself getting angry, disappointed and hurt more easily if things didn’t go my way. This seemed backwards to me. Why wasn’t I happier, more grateful and peaceful with each goal achieved? Why was I constantly upset about the past and worried about the future? And why was it so difficult for me to experience happiness in the present moment? The mind is an incredible researcher and problem solver if you ask it the right questions. Like a computer, my brain recalled conversations and wisdom I’d heard and read about the keys to living a happy and peaceful life. It all came back to mastery of self. While I can’t control how life shows up, how people treat me or whether I accomplish the mission, I can control how I see and experience it all. This timeless truth empowered me.
I did one important thing as I set my heading on this new course towards happiness and inner peace. I told myself that success would not come in an instant. This would be a life long journey similar to that of healthy living. One day of working out and eating a salad doesn’t make one healthy for life. It’s making those things daily rituals that do. And so it was true of living the kind of life I wanted for myself. So each day, I set out to be a little better than I was the day before at accepting life however it showed up, not finding fault or blame in others and staying present to beauty, goodness and lessons in the present moment.
It’s been 3 years since I’ve made self-mastery a top priority in my life. And of all the gifts I’ve given myself, this is the greatest one. If weather conditions like high winds and rain close down Lake Tahoe resorts on a ski trip during my birthday week, I accept it and turn my attention to the positives. The additional moisture is good for climate and water ways. And the closures free me up to finish projects sooner. If someone close to me breaks a commitment, I look internally and purposely recall times in which I’ve broken promises to be my best with others. Upon doing this, I immediately let the perceived slight go and feel unconditional love for the person. And when I fall short of a stated goal, I take a moment to remember that “it’s not win or lose, it’s win and learn.” I ask myself what I learned from the experience and make a commitment to course correct and implement the lesson next time.
Self-mastery takes commitment and hard work. It is the hardest task I’ve ever undertaken. And it’s also the most worthwhile. I’m happier than I’ve ever been because I choose to be. I hope you will be too.Load Comments