April 29

Today's quotation:

Notice that the moment you become unhappy is usually
the moment you attempt to control another person.

Hugh Prather

Today's Meditation:

Most of us never would admit that we try to control other people.  We might say that we're just giving advice or just doing something "for their own good," but we certainly wouldn't say that we're trying to control another person's actions or thoughts or reactions.  But somehow we learn that one of the ways to happiness is to "make" other people happy, rather than allowing them to be themselves and live their lives on their own terms.

This is an approach that's doomed to lead us to frustration and despair and anger and many other emotions--but not to happiness.  If someone else does what we tell them to we may feel a momentary sense of satisfaction because we've "helped" them, but we usually don't stop and ask ourselves just why the person acted so.  Were they just trying to make us stop meddling?  Did we intimidate them?  Are they afraid of us?  If any of these things are true, then our help wasn't really help, was it?

It took me a long time to recognize that sometimes my "helpfulness" was a form of control.  If I told someone to do something in a certain way and they did it, I had a satisfied feeling that I had helped, but I did not allow them to do something their own way.

There's something important about allowing other people to do things in their own ways--and learning from what they do and how they do it.  When we can accept that they do have their own ways and methods and accept them for exactly who and what they are, our lives become richer and we find much less unhappiness in our own lives.

Questions to consider:

In what ways do you attempt to control other people, even if only in very small ways?

What's the difference between giving advice and trying to get someone to do something in a certain way?

How does trying to control others lead to unhappiness for us?

For further thought:

Ask not that events should happen as you will,
but let your will be that events should
happen as they do, and you shall have peace.

Epictetus

  

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