As a young adult in my 20’s, 30’s, and even into my 40’s, I would see people with partners, children, houses, cars – success and fulfillment in a nutshell – and I would feel resentful. They had what I wanted.
To be honestly truthful, in my 60’s I still witnessed myself believing that I can’t get for myself what I so want in the world. I’ve been bitter, resentful, and I’ve have carried victimhood like a right and an entitlement for the tragedy that was my life. Why did they get what they wanted? Why not me?
Mind you, I grew up in an upper middle class environment. No physical or emotional violence. I had parents that did the best they could. I never went hungry, cold, or shelterless. In the whole scheme of things, I had a really great life. I just couldn’t see it that way! I was blind to my own riches!!!
Throughout that same period of time, I would hear from different sources that if you want fulfillment in your own life you have to be happy that other people have fulfillment; you have to practice not only seeing the happiness of others as a wonderful thing, but you have to enjoy and experience gratitude that others are experiencing fulfillment. Why? Because, to embrace the joy of others would allow me to embody that joy and perhaps resonate it in ways I don’t understand.
When your life isn’t working the way you want it to, when you perceive that life isn’t working for you at all, that is an opportunity to stop what you are doing and perhaps not only listen and hear wisdom, but then to act upon it. Only because the way it is, right now, is not fulfilling in any way, shape or form! Why keep perpetuating a nightmare when the moment of awakening is right there in front of you? Seeing the beauty of this moment transforms one’s reality. Do that over and over again and we have a brilliant and loving world.
I didn’t like the idea whatsoever of being happy for others when I had been so "deprived." I grew up in a family with nine children. We were always competing for attention – competing to feel special. There was always the feeling that "they got what I wanted." This was an engrained pattern of never seeing how good I had it. I’m sure my parents were exhausted by my constant resentments and sense of entitlement and indignation. The grudges I held towards others was incessant. I’m sure it influenced my marriages in ways I didn’t want to recognize or own.
Bottom line: I hated how I felt within myself. And, maybe I couldn’t change my circumstance but I could change how I felt – how I was being within my circumstances. I was willing to give it a shot!
Regardless of my reluctance, I began practicing the fine art of noticing my resentments. When I heard myself begin The Mantra "They have that, why don’t I," I’d say "STOP!" Over and over again I would notice the mantra and stop it. Through this practice I began to feel less of a victim and therefore, I had less resentment. That was the beginning of being the change I wanted to be in my own life, for myself!
Then, as if learning to juggle balls in the air, once I got comfortable with the practice of noticing and stopping The Mantra, I then began to cultivate a sense of happiness for those who had what I didn’t have. Even for only brief moments, I began to feel delight and appreciate that however the Divine Universe works, there is goodness and abundance in the world. And, that it was just a matter of time before I too would be gifted with such abundance. Slowly but surely this became my reality!
My circumstances are what they are. I live alone away from my family, and material wealth is not apparent, relatively speaking. However, through this practice of sitting in my dilemma, challenging my belief and the reality that I lack in any way, I’ve come to have a much more delightful existence. It’s no longer such a grueling hardship to my existence to truly be overjoyed by the love that floods the Earth always and everywhere. I am physically moved and touched by every act of kindness that I witness. What I experience through this practice of being happy for others cultivates a desire to be more generous and kind in the world. I find it contagious! That’s the virus I want to spread around the world!