Friday, November 28, 2014

The Key to Happiness is Rolling With It

"Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable."  - Anthony de Mello*

No matter where I drive my car, regardless of whether I've been diligently following its instructions, my GPS is always perfectly content to recalculate based on current circumstances. (...and to think we're trying to teach computers to think more like we do!)

If you can resist being pulled into the drama of a friend's sad tale of woe (or, even more difficult, your own sad tales of woe), and clearly examine the particulars, 95% of the time it amounts to nothing more than: "I thought X would happen, but Y happened". Humans hate surprise (not that they love their status quo, either). Cultivate an eagerness for it, and the world transforms.

Consider ants (as I did last month):
I'm like an ant. I'll very contentedly reconstruct a smashed anthill, one grain at a time, even amid multiple re-smashings.

To human beings, I suppose this seems sad. Humans aspire to grander dreams than endless drudging anthill reconstruction. They're taught to rage at the smashing.

But to ants, human beings - who grow ever more crippled and demoralized with every inevitable round of smashings, and who only with great suffering manage to soldier on with reconstruction - are the sad ones.
It helps that ants don't tell themselves sad stories about what's happening.

* - The quote atop is one of those aphorisms where the sentiment's so catchy one can easily overlook the fine points. De Mello doesn't mention mere passive acceptance of the inevitable, but active, engaged cooperation with it. Even though I disregard the instructions of my GPS time and again, it never disengages; never petulantly says "fine; turn right, turn left, I really don't give a crap."

Update: see a follow-up posting here

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