I don't often read non-fiction. I love a good story, and gravitate toward books that will allow me to get swept away in the lives of the characters. However, I do try to step outside of my bubble from time to time, and am incredibly appreciative when someone, in this case my husband, recommends a book I might not have chosen for myself.
I have been struggling a bit lately (if I'm being 100% honest, maybe "a bit" is an understatement). Long story short, I have been feeling lost, and unsure as to the direction of my life. I have been grappling with the course my life seems to be taking, the course I would like it to take, and where those two things intersect, or if they intersect at all. I have been simultaneously trying to ascertain how to get from here to there, while still muddling through defining where "there" is. If this all sounds confusing, don't worry, you're not alone. I was/am not entirely 100% clear on all of that, but to aid me in my journey, my husband suggested and supplied me with Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, and I happily added it to my Summer Reading List.
The better portion of this book, for me, was like sitting with a therapist. Often times it is not one, particular, profound statement your therapist makes that changes your life, but rather, their ability to listen and help you come into the wisdom you've carried with you all along. This is to say, a lot of what Chopra talked about in this book, were things that I already knew, but reading his words provided me with reinforcement of my own ideas. One of the most important messages I took away from this book is the power of silence. In our own stillness and quiet (and not just auditory quiet, but a quieting of the mind) we can learn a great deal. When we experience silence we are able to learn things about ourselves and our place in the world, that we would otherwise have been distracted from.
I did have a little bit of trouble with 2 concepts (in Chopra's terms, laws) that were presented in the book. The first was that before every choice/decision you make, you should take a moment to think about whether it will bring happiness to you, and happiness to those around you. If it will not, it is not the right decision. The second was you should only say "yes" to something if you are able to give of yourself from a pure place without resentment or guilt. So, my first issue was that it is not always possible to make a decision that will bring happiness to you, and those around you... what happens when you have a decision to make where you feel as though only one of those parties can be happy, what to you do then? My other issue was similar, if saying "yes" to something will create happiness for those around me, but I'm only doing it because I feel like I have to (thereby not from that pure place of giving) how do I reconcile that?
I marinated on those conflicts with myself for a bit, and then brought my husband and father-in-law into the discussion, which proved extremely helpful. Here is where I am currently with these ideas...
I am a people pleaser... saying "no," is incredibly difficult for me, but part of that is selfish. A lot of times when I say yes, it is because I want the other person to be happy, but sometimes it is because I don't want there to be conflict if I say no. I don't want them to be angry or irritated with me, and I don't want the nature of our relationship to change because I said "no." When I do this, neither party truly benefits. My father-in-law likened it to a meal. Two meals can be prepared in exactly the same way, but if one is prepared with love, while the other is prepared while you are rushing and agitated, those two meals will, intrinsically, be different. The better meal will be the one prepared with love.
Applying this analogy offers the opportunity to think about the concepts of "benefit" and happiness in a broader context. We live in a fast food/social media/hi-speed world where instant gratification is expected, but such short-sighted perspective can lead to long-term problems. When I say "yes" to something, but I do it begrudgingly, the person on the receiving end of my "yes" is happy that I have agreed to their request, but whatever I am doing for them is infused with negative energy, and that negative energy will manifest itself at some point in our relationship (karmic balance and all that jazz). I have created immediate happiness, but long term strife. Likewise, if I say no to something, it may alleviate some immediate inconvenience, but is there a bigger picture I'm missing? Would there have been a greater benefit to me saying "yes?" After I completed the task, might I have felt happiness?
All of that being said, I will not, as my father-in-law so eloquently put it, try to carry 150lbs when I am only capable of carrying 100, but I am able to see Chopra's "laws" in a new light. When making decisions I will now make an effort to think about the greater picture, and greater benefit to all parties beyond the immediate, and I will try to become more comfortable saying "no," when it is warranted.