Life is not the cause of our unhappiness…

by Judith F Kennedy, PhD

Life is not the cause of problems and unhappiness.  It is the commotion the mind makes about life that keeps us unhappy. Shakespeare said it best: “Nothing is either bad nor good but thinking makes it so”. When we look at life directly without our stories, it becomes simpler.

I recall one day in particular in my childhood, my sisters and I were out in our big front yard playing when we saw a skinny, old dog hiding under a neighbors porch. It was obviously hungry and very afraid of being seen. My mother told us to stay away from it and certainly not to touch it. Those were not the days of animal control or rescue shelters.  We had our own dog but she wasn’t allowed in the house, my mother barely tolerated her. Our dog was a sweet old boxer, teeth protruding from her bottom lip, scary to others but beloved by us three kids. Her name was Pitty-pat and she would wag her whole bottom when we came out to play. Surely I thought, why be so scared of any dog? I tried to be respectful of my mother’s thoughts, but the stray dog came around and was starving. I slipped into the house by the back door and found some left overs in the fridge and gave it to her. She gulped it down and trembled as she carefully started to approach me. She was obviously very afraid and so was I. I reached out to touch her weary head. The tears flowed and my heart opened to this sad creature as she rested her head in my lap.

I was torn. Intuitively I knew that my mother was afraid and in her fear trying to protect us from the demons real or not in her mind. It was clear to me that it was her story not mine. She maintained that story and fear her entire life but I didn’t. I learned to love dogs, to love the incredibly loving creatures they are. I also learned that fear and the stories we tell ourselves hold us back, keep us from the love and contentment that we all long for.

Imagine what it would be like to let go of the stories that hold us hostage and relax into the beauty of our life.