I recently read a great quote from Ben Franklin that I hadn’t seen before. He said, “Joy doesn’t exist in the world, it exists in us.” While the quote was new to me, the concept wasn’t. However, as I began to think it more, I realized that even though I “understand” this wisdom and do my best to live by it and remind others of it, more often than I’d like to admit, I find myself living as though I’m simply a victim of the things that go on around me and in the world—especially the stuff I don’t particularly like, agree with, understand, feel like I’m on top of or enjoy.
The circumstances of our lives, especially when they seem stressful or intense (as is the case for many people I know and work with these days), do have an impact on us, for sure. However, all too often, we give away our power to these circumstances and situations. We act as though it’s a foregone conclusion that we will feel a certain way, based on specific circumstances like the economy, the weather, our health, our level of activity, the state of our romantic relationship or lack thereof, the behavior of our children, our families, the state of our career or business or our environment at work.
Our experience of life (grateful, worried, peaceful, angry, excited, sad, alive, depressed, joyous or anything else) is much more of a reflection of us and what’s going on within us, not a reaction to what’s going on around us. We’ve all had many times in our lives when things were going great on the surface or we accomplished or experienced some wonderful external success, only to feel a sense of disappointment or sadness underneath because whatever it didn’t satisfy us at a deep level. And, on the flip side, most of us have had moments of incredible joy, excitement, and bliss that weren’t directly connected to anything worthy of these feelings externally.
Even though we know this dynamic to be true, we still seem to get caught in the hypnotic, erroneous notion that if we just got rid of some issues, altered some circumstances, manifested some increased success or changed some specific situations in our lives, then, we’d be happy, peaceful and relaxed (or whatever it is we say we want to experience).
“The definition of insanity is thinking that you need something you don’t have. The mere fact that you exist right now without that which you think you need is proof that you don’t need it.