Not long ago I received a lovely text message from my daughter. She was in Vermont snowboarding, and felt compelled to say she loved and missed me. It made me feel really warm and happy --- my heart was smiling and overflowing with pure love.
Minutes later (really), I received an email from someone who felt equally compelled to send a laundry list of some of my most unpleasant qualities. I was so shocked, and so wounded, I actually cried.
Now I’m sure you’re thinking that I would know better than to dwell on negative and judgmental statements, and instead focus on the lovely text from my sweet, beautiful daughter -- especially because of my many years of practicing and teaching yoga, and the fact that this person doesn’t know me very well.
Apparently, not so much. It took me days to shake that awful, anxious pit in my stomach. No matter if the negative comments were true or not, it was my choice to attach to them, and, as a result, suffer. It wasn’t the sender that caused the suffering, it was me.
We always have the choice to be happy. I chose to stay attached to the unskillful judgments of another, and linger in the resulting negative emotions. But those words could only hurt me if I allowed them to. I didn’t have to read them, believe them, or hold them in my heart.
I suppose it’s our human nature to yearn to always be right and always be loved. But my yogic nature was nudged awake by this recent episode, and I realized that while I won’t always be right or always loved, it’s okay. I am responsible for my own happiness, and, I am for sure the root cause of my own suffering.
So I saved the text and deleted the email. I‘ve decided not to suffer; I’ve decided I’d much rather be the cause of my own happiness.
May all beings be happy and free!