“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” ~ Marcus Aelius Aurelius
The quality of your thoughts is the one thing you have control over at the end of the day. The world around you may bend and twist to a certain degree to meet your whim and fancy, but at the end of the day you have little control over the decisions and actions of others, all of which conspire to produce this moment and the next, ad infinitum.
The way that you perceive, process and respond to the alternating patterns of order and chaos around you determines your effectiveness in life and conditions in large measure the terrain of your heart, the state of your emotional realm. Even when you are living amidst harsh and uncertain circumstances, you can maintain an orderly state of mind and heart and bless your world with wise stewardship and a loving touch.
Every time I find myself in challenging or high pressure circumstances I remind myself that it could be worse. Think of the drummers in the Revolutionary War, for instance. They walked in front of the soldiers, with nothing more than drumsticks in their hands and loyalty in their heart, facing the bayonets and muskets of an equally patriotic enemy. It could be worse!
Happiness is not sustainable if you look at it as an outside-in phenomenon. Many people devote their energies to the extraction of happiness from every available source. They pursue hobbies, relationships, jobs, drugs, alcohol, a runner’s high, a good book and more, in the vain and maddening search for a slice of happiness. Happiness will never endure if it is huffed out of the people, places and things around you, but it will perdure if you are ruthlessly deliberate about the quality of your thoughts.
Others can inspire you to accept the idea that happiness can and should be a reality for you, that it is immediately available for those who learn how to unlock its expression, but they cannot do it for you. You must make it so through deliberate and consistent attention to virtue and reasonableness.
There are no shortcuts – no highs, no rushes, no secret formulae or magic pills – that will allow you to overcome the gravity of the lugubrious undercurrents of lost purpose, meaning and value for a lifetime. There are, however, specific steps that you can take to build a firm foundation for the future. Step one: do as Marcus Aurelius so wisely suggests…guard accordingly!
Have a great weekend!