Friday, January 13, 2012

first and foremost from within

It is strange to watch your priorities and motivations rearranging themselves. I have been reading a lot of books lately that fit squarely into the "self-improvement" genre. I am not one to let others tell me how to live or how to think, and I am certainly not in need of someone to hold me up and point me in the right direction. But my curiosity regarding these novels and my great affinity for what they have to say has made me realize that I was searching for something, yearning for something I found lacking within myself.

One doesn't always know when they are unhappy, but in this case I was certain of it. I felt hopeless, alone, and overwhelmed both by my own ambitions and by what many would consider aggressive bad luck. Those who know me would describe me as amiable, quick to laugh, and full of energy. Those who know me best, also know that I suffer dark bouts of depression and uncertainty with greater frequency than I would have ever let the rest of the world see.

I was looking for a solution for my doubt and unhappiness, and turned my attention to the inspiring words of others. I picked up "Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach a little over a year ago from my sister's coffee table and read the day's entry. I had poured my heart out to my sister and wept just moments before and was seeking a distraction while she was busy with a task. I believe with a fair amount of skepticism in kismet and destiny, and I have been certain of few things in my life as much as I am certain that I was meant to read that entry in that very moment. Whatever power you believe in, be it God, a sentient universe, or karma... I was meant to read that page.

I borrowed the book from my sister and later acquired my own copy along with many of Sarah's other works. It is hard to describe the emotions I felt that day, as if a switch had been flipped in my core from off to on. Sarah didn't have the answer I was looking for, not all of it anyway, but she revealed the path to me. She opened my eyes to the inspiration and motivation that can be found in "self-help" section of the library. As with 'luck' and 'destiny', I read many of these books with a healthy dose of skepticism. Reading others' ideals on how to find contentment and personal worth allowed me to scrutinize how I viewed myself with a new light.

It was during this exploration of self, both on how I thought and on how I reacted to the world around me, that I discovered the source of much of my discontent. My own thought patterns and emotions were poison, bad habits given too much power through repetition. I was literally my own enemy. Happiness comes first and foremost from within in spite of what lies outside one's self. I have great bounty in my life, friends that care for deeply for me, family whom I adore, a safe home in which to live, clean water and air, plentiful and delicious foods, and a culture in which I could find all the answers I needed with a computer and a library card. I only had to open my eyes and witness what I had and realize that happiness was mine if I was willing to claim it.

I continue to read books directed at improving one's self and one's life, gleaning pieces of wisdom from every other page to incorporate into the major discovery I made. With each book and article I read, I find new ways in which to examine myself and my thoughts and new avenues to explore on my journey to self-appreciation and contentment. Meanwhile, the many things that seemed so important before have lost their power over me and new motivations have taken their place. Every move I make now is a positive step toward my ultimate goal of lasting and meaningful happiness.

Thanks, Sarah.

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