“Happen-ness” in the Face of Challenge: Emotional Strength
When faced with a difficult situation, do you view it as an opportunity or a curse? If you have two cars and one gets totaled, you can be disappointed and angry that one of your financial assets is gone. Or you can recognize that although it is inconvenient to have to work to replace the vehicle, at least you aren’t injured and you can still get where you need to go. Perhaps you take the opportunity to let go of the extra vehicle, or find one which suits your needs better. How you view the situation is your choice, and there is always something to be grateful for. That is where emotional kung-fu comes in. You may feel sad and angry about your situation at first, but with a little kung-fu you can come to see the best in it and let go of your resistance to what is happening. This doesn’t mean denying your feelings or pretending to be ok with something when you are actually upset. The first move in kung-fu is to notice your emotions and accept them. Find quiet space in yourself, or physical space if you need it, to feel whatever you are feeling. Then the key is to ask What is overall best for me as I look at this situation? Does it serve me to feel angry or betrayed by the world, or would it serve me better to view this as an opportunity?
When having a conflict with a roommate over eating food from your part of the refrigerator, it is important to remember that a few dollars of butter might not be worth the hard feelings or disharmony between you. Clinging to the argument can ruin the emotional stability of the house or the day, or lead to the necessity of finding another roommate and possibly face the same situation again. Alternatively, you could choose to simply mention your pet peeve to your roommate when you notice it, or forgive the butter.
There are some times when it really does serve you better to find a new roommate. If you offer energy to someone and they just don’t reciprocate, don’t continue to offer of yourself. But don’t sweat the small stuff – if you find yourself reacting to a situation, take a moment to consider your feelings and choose how you want to act.
If we choose to value the pursuit of “happen-ness”, then our experiences with roommates and community members provide invaluable opportunities to practice our appreciation for the present moment. In our current culture, our happiness is often contingent upon possessions or outcomes (i.e. the butter in the fridge or graduating from school), and we feel we or other people have failed when we don’t get the thing we desire. In the pursuit of “happen-ness”, every twist and turn in the journey presents another chance to practice our emotional strength.