For the past four days I’ve been in Colorado. Flew into Denver, drove to Breckenridge and did some snowboarding, then headed to Colorado Springs for a few days to spend time with friends who live there. Coming from the midwest, flying into a place that is also cold and snowy might not seem like a vacation, but Colorado has outdoor activities and it’s sunny there all the time right? I hear it’s something like 300 days a year in Denver. Unfortunately, 4 of those 65 days it’s not happened to be when I was there. But it wasn’t just cloudy, it was foggy. So foggy that I think I only actually saw one mountain from afar the entire time I was there. I know. Boohoo, me. I go on vacation and don’t get to see the sun. But seriously, I need the sun. As my friend and I were headed back to Denver yesterday, the visibility had to be less than a quarter mile. I was trying to stay positive. I was trying to count my blessings. I was trying to be grateful. But it all snuck up on me and an overwhelming feeling of sadness took over. (again, boohoo me. But still, I spent money and took days off work for this, the least the weather could do is cooperate!)
After the fog lifted (the last 4 hours we were there) and the sun came out, I started thinking about how much weight I place on my external circumstances to be happy. When it’s foggy, I’m sad, when it’s sunny, I’m happy. When I get praise, I’m happy, when I get criticism, I’m sad. When I get what I want or things go how I think they should go, I’m happy. When they don’t, I’m not. This is the way I think I’ve always lived my life. That’s how it works, right? But what if it isn’t? What if I could decide to be happy no matter what life threw at me? What if life could shift and move and progress how it does and I could be happy no matter what it looked like?
This isn’t a revolutionary idea. Monks and buddhists have been doing it for years. I truly believe that I can be happy no matter what- that it’s a state of mind. It’s not about finding the silver lining or finding the good about what’s going on, but rather recognizing that the only thing being miserable is doing is making me miserable. When the sun wasn’t out I was miserable. Did that change anything? No, it was just foggy and I was miserable. It simply added misery. Life doesn’t care what I want or how I think it should go. It just doesn’t work that way. And the more I resist it, the more I feel like I’m fighting a battle. A long, painful battle that can never be won.
I do believe that I can be happy no matter what. I believe that I have the potential for that. However, I highly doubt that I will ever reach the status of a monk. I know that I will still get the “woe is me” moments. I know that I will still react with sadness, anxiety, or anger toward life events. But what I also know is that with this knowledge by my side, I’m less likely to get stuck there. I’m more likely to let smaller things go. I will spend more time moving with the flow of life enjoying it rather than trying to run against it. I will find more peace. It won’t be complete, but I will have to be ok with that too.