What Determines Our Well Being Most

Every moment of our life, every decision we make, every response to every situation, and how our actions affect others, is shaped by our relationship with one particular principle…so far as I can tell.

Steve Roberts color photo: buddha statue in deep snow landscape

Every moment of our life, so far as I can tell, every decision we make, every response to every situation, and how our actions affect others, is shaped by our relationship with one particular principle:

How we define our world creates our world.*

 Some examples:

In April 1964, when Nelson Mandela, on trial and facing the death penalty for taking up the armed struggle against apartheid, took the stand to defend himself, he said:

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.  I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities.  It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realized.  But, my lords, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Lest you think this most powerful of principles applies only to the noblest of sentiments, consider this snippet from the poet Shel Silverstein:

Oh, I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
A boa constrictor, a boa constrictor
I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor
And I don’t like it….one bit.

Then, from Angelina Jolie:

“Figure out who you are separate from your family, and the man or woman you’re in a relationship with.  Find who you are in this world and what you need to feel good alone. I think that’s the most important thing in life.  Find a sense of self because with that, you can do anything else.”

I could have picked any of literally countless other statements (including those infused with hate, judgment and self-righteousness) from people in any walk of life throughout recorded history because, at their core, every thought we have, every idea we express in every conceivable medium, reflects this principle that most determines our well-being.  And in doing so reveals just how powerful each one of us truly is and what impels us to birth both beauty and self-destruction.

I find it growthful (if humbling) to consider the ways in which someone like Paramahansa Yogananda must have defined his world so that, one day, his experience led him to write:

I, a tiny bubble of laughter, have become the Sea of Mirth itself.

 

*Danaan Parry, peace mediator, author, “Warriors of the Heart”

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The Essay: Honoring the Killing of the Earth