Nephew: You reckon that if we want to add to our core happiness we need to satisfy our innate need to feel safe.
Uncle: You’ve been listening?
Nephew: I managed to stay awake at that part. But we feel safe every day. It’s not like we are in a war zone. When do we not feel safe?
Uncle: Every day we experience fears, like the fear of failure, of rejection, of looking stupid, or the fear that our dinner will get cold . . . Every day we have countless fears. If we can reduce those fears . . . if we can reduce that anxiety, corehappiness will rise in its place. We will feel lighter and more relaxed. And happier.
Nephew: So the less anxious we are, the happier we will be?
Uncle: That’s a big part of it, yes.
Nephew: How do we reduce those fears?
Uncle: By taking control of our life. But I don’t mean trying to control the outside world. People who try to control the outside world – their spouse, the people they meet, the situations they’re in –do so because they’re anxious. They are trying to reduce their anxiety but they are only making themselves more anxious, because we can’t control the outside world.
Nephew. No. James Bond won’t let anyone do that.
Uncle: What? Look, the control I’m talking about is an inner control, an inner authority. ‘I can handle failure. I can handle rejection. I can handle looking stupid. I can handle my dinner getting cold.’ If you feel you can handle what happens in your life, you’re not going to fear it, are you?
Nephew: I guess not. So how do we gain the feeling that whatever happens, we’ll handle it?
Uncle: By taking full responsibility for how our life unfolds.
Nephew: That’s not fair! Why should we take responsibility for everything that happens in our life? If a meteor destroys my home, why should I take responsibility for that?
Uncle: We need to take responsibility for how we respond to what happens. Many people don’t. You’ll hear people say ‘She ruined my life,’ instead of, ‘I have made poor decisions,’ or ‘He made me angry,’ instead of ‘I became angry’. These people blame the world for their troubles, or they blame themselves, which is just as bad, instead of taking responsibility.
Nephew: Yes, but . . .
Uncle: It’s like they are in their little boat of Life, bobbing about in the ocean, and they just sit back hoping for good weather. When a storm approaches they say, ‘Gosh, I hope that storm doesn’t affect me,’ and when that storm does come, and capsizes their little boat, they blame the storm! Or, they blame themselves, and complain about how useless they are.
Nephew: Yeah’ okay.
Uncle: If instead they were to grasp the mainsail, and grasp the tiller, and take responsibility for their little boat of Life, and give their life direction, they’re going to fare a lot better when that storm does come along. They might even say, “Bring it on, I’ll handle it.’
Nephew: Hold back on the metaphors, would you.
Uncle: When we take full responsibility for how our life unfolds we come to understand that our happiness does not depend on the outside world, but on how we respond to it. And then we come to understand that we are in control of our life – we have an inner control, an inner authority, a feeling that whatever happens, we’ll handle it. And, when that happens, anxiety evaporates and core happiness rises in its place.
Nephew: Sounds creepy, to be honest.
Uncle: It’s comforting to know that what I say sounds creepy. Thanks for that.
Nephew: Well, Uncle Sarcasm, I’m going to take full responsibility for how my life unfolds right now. By taking off.
Uncle: Watch out for meteors.
“Peace is not only in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. Peace is in the midst of things as they are, when there is calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”