In a conversation with a therapist I know who specializes in recovery from Trauma, and himself a survivor of trauma when a psychotic patient stalked and beat him unconscious, and continues to stalk him today when he is not locked up, we were discussing what made a “satisfying life” and we both agreed on three things.
ACCEPTANCE is what we feel about a “truth,” maybe even a truth we don’t like. We accept that gravity keeps us walking on the earth. We accept that our marriage didn’t turn out like we wished it had. We accept that our beloved child is in prison, or continues a dysfunctional or even criminal life style.
What else CAN we do? There are many things we can do, but none of them, unfortunately are healthy. We can continue to try to fix what we have not broken, we can try to change someone’s behavior when they really don’t want to change, as shown by the fact they keep repeating the same bad acts. We can do these things, but until we finally and completely accept that the only person over whom we have control is ourselves, then we cannot come to a healthy acceptance that life’s not like we wish it was, but it is what it is, and we can accept what is and not let that totally ruin our lives.
GRATITUDE…is what we feel when we realize just how much we really have. Maybe not a mansion, but many people living in mansions who are among the super rich are not happy, they may have problems we can’t see from the outside. Then there are others who don’t even have clean water to drink, or families who must sell one of their children into slavery or the sex trade to feed the rest. However “little” we may have, there is still much for us to be grateful for.
Make a list of the things that you have to be grateful for, start with the basics of clean water, a roof over your head, an education so you can read these words, that you can see these words because you are not blind. Recall the old saying about “I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.”
Give thanks to your “higher power” for the blessings that you enjoy.
ALTRUISM. Altruism is the giving to others without expectations that you will be repaid. Jesus advised us to loan when we don’t expect repayment, invite people to our home for a meal when we know they can’t invite us back to repay us for our hospitality.
Research has shown that when we do for others, that the brain actually gives us a shot of “feel good” chemicals in our pleasure center, so even nature has designed most of us with that desire to give to others, to cooperate with others, and to just plain “be nice.”
It doesn’t have to be a ‘big” thing that you do, opening a door for a mother with three toddlers going into a store, or just saying “hello” to someone who looks downcast. You don’t have to be Mother Theresa in order to be altruistic, but the more you give, the more you get back in terms of satisfaction.
If we have these three simple things in our lives, then we are truly blessed, and no matter what it is that we must accept that has brought grief and pain into our lives, we can live joyfully until we die, not die daily.