By: TJ Woodward
Whatever story we tell ourselves, and believe, is what we experience as the truth of what is happening. The more conscious awareness we have, the more we realize that the stories are self-created. For example, we are at liberty to decide whether an illness is a gift or a curse. We decide if losing a loved one is a tragic experience or an opportunity for miraculous transformation. Either way, we will still feel grief and loss, but suffering, which is very different from pain, is a choice. Losing our job can be a demeaning, humiliating experience or an invitation to live the life we always dreamed of but were afraid to step into. It is for each of us to decide whether the world we live in is a kind, loving place or a hostile, scary one. Whichever story we believe, our mind will find all the evidence it needs to prove us right.
Some people say, “Everything happens for a reason.” If they arrived late at the airport and missed their flight, they rationalize it by telling themselves there was a reason. They say there was a higher purpose to why that happened. When they believe this, it makes it easier for them to accept the less fortunate things that occur. It’s comforting to know that something good will come from misfortune. It is certainly more comfortable than believing that things happen randomly and that there is no intelligent organizing principle controlling the events of their lives. What I am saying is that perhaps neither of these two attitudes is actually true. At the very least, it may not be the whole truth. Events are not handed to us in a gift box nicely wrapped up with a bow. Rather it is up to us to create our own meaning.
Additionally, life can even be experienced beyond the trappings of meaning making. For example, it is freeing to have no attachments to whether it is a sunny or a rainy day, whether we are tall or short. This is the Buddhist concept of nonattachment. When this dimension within us has been awakened, there is a deep sense of freedom. It cannot be experienced from a place of holding on to all our stories and opinions. I have lived through some dark experiences. During those times, I wanted to tell myself that it was all happening “for a reason.” I did a lot of inner reflection around those difficult experiences and chose to use them as material for my transformation. And I created reason and meaning for those times of struggle. However, this was because of my deep commitment to personal growth and spiritual awakening. I could have chosen to be resentful, remorseful or angry and remain in a state of disempowerment. Inherently, these experiences were neither good nor bad. It was entirely my choice to view them in a positive light, to find constructive meaning and purpose in them.
TJ Woodward, author of the book Conscious BEING: Awakening to Your True Nature