From Karen Lebell’s interpretation of Epictetus philosophy, in the book titled, “The Art of Living”
“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control. We cannot have a light heart if our minds are a woeful cauldron of fear and empathy…Authentic happiness is always independent of external conditions. Vigilantly practice indifference to external conditions. Your happiness can only be found within.
How easily dazzled and deceived we are by eloquence, job title, academic degrees, high honors, fancy possessions, expensive clothing, or a suave demeanor. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that celebrities, public figures, political leaders, the wealthy or people with great intellectual or artistic gifts are necessarily happy. To do so is to be bewildered by appearances. It will only make you doubt yourself.
…Stop aspiring to be anyone other than your own best self; for that does fall within your control.”
We all yearn to find true happiness in our daily lives. The pressures of our fast-paced incentive driven world force us to be ever on the lookout for the next “quick fix”, or “relieve all” antidote to any feeling of discomfort, boredom, or let down. Instead of fostering a sense of inner peace, and gratitude for all that comes our way, we instead give in to the notion that happiness can only come from gaining more and more to control over the inevitable uncontrollable.
Our bodies will age. Our friends and loved ones will disappoint us. Our cars will break down. Our children will be bored with trends before we learn what they like. The overly ambitious purchase of kale, berries, and mixed greens will go bad in the back of the fridge while I snack on chocolate chip cookies all week. All of these things are expected and have happened before. Yet we try to find the perfect course of action so that none of them ever does. This is akin to going to battle with that which cannot be defeated. To spend a life failing to control what could never be controlled and was never meant to be controlled conflicts with the variety and beauty of life itself.
There is an alternative to this: freedom. This includes letting go of that which is outside of your control and use your newfound energy not to find more things to fix, but instead, to focus on the few things actually worth your time. Sunshine. Fresh air. Telling a friend how much they mean to you. Holding the door for a stranger. Having a few moments to pause during a busy day to daydream. Those are the little things in life that connect me to this world and to myself.
Giving up the need to control the outcome of events or the opinions of others is true freedom and true happiness. A peace we can all obtain. I believe that happiness within is not a destination, but rather a daily journey in life. Staying present and being here without judgment, honoring my feelings and needs as they arise, and letting go actually gives me more span of control in my life.
Coming Home to Yourself© describes a feeling for me; it’s the moment I’ve met myself with grace, authenticity, courage, creativity, and freedom. It’s me meeting my best self/inner healer and embracing all that she has to offer me and others. It’s stepping into clarity from a heart-centered space, while feeling connected to the thread of life that ties me to humanity and this world.
I can’t describe what being at home is like for you or anyone else. Every human has a different experience, and can go on an inward journey to find that place or feeling called, home. Our goal at Balanced Mental Wellness is to witness and support you on your individual journey to seeking true happiness. We invite you to be your authentic self and will create space for your discovery to begin.