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We’ve all been wronged in some way by other people.
We’ve been judged. We’ve been doubted. We’ve been dumped.
Now, unless our name is Eckhart Tolle and we’re in complete alignment with the present moment (Hint: we’re not), I think we’d be lying to say this stuff doesn’t continue to harm us.
When someone hurts us, we remember it.
And then, we’re left with two options. We can either be defeated by the ghosts of our past—driven into a downward spiral by all the bad sh*t that’s happened to us. Or we can use that energy to excel into a better future, for ourselves and everyone around us. It all depends on how we manage the momentum of our past.
It’s natural to want revenge on the people who have hurt us, but the problem is that we often make that revenge into a personal vendetta. But there’s nothing personal about what’s happened to us—there’s nothing personal about anything for that matter. Life doesn’t care about our ego.
So, I’m offering up a different kind of revenge that’s far superior to holding a grudge. It’s the revenge of simply being happy.
I’ve thought to myself many times how confusing it is that so few people are actually happy. Most people in the Western world are safe and secure. Most people have enough to eat. Most people have jobs that aren’t comparable to slave labor. So, why is being happy such a challenge for us?
I think it goes something like this: people are unhappy when we take things personally. That’s our one massive blind spot. The beauty of Western culture is that we recognize the role of the individual; the tragedy of Western culture is that we only recognize the role of the individual, namely “me” and “mine.”
When everything is so individualized, we forget that the universe is much greater than our little problems. When someone does something that offends us, we feel like it’s a direct assault on the most intimate parts of who we are—as though this person knows everything about our personal history and is intentionally calling us out.
That’s just the wrong way to look at it.
When someone hurts us, it means they are acting out a pattern from their past. It’s pain, really. They were hurt as children, and they continue the cycle by trying to hurt others. The only way to break the cycle is to stop taking things so damn personally and practice ways to see beyond the scope of the ego. There’s a vast horizon right past it—and my god, it’s beautiful.
Happiness is the best revenge, because it puts us on the path to healing the original wound that lead us to want to seek revenge. We break the cycle by feeling the fullness of life and living up to our potential as human beings. When we’re really happy, we don’t care about what someone said or did to us—we have moved beyond it. Our past stays in the past because we are no longer acting out those patterns that came from pain and suffering. We live in the present, instead of just being a shell of what we once were.
When I am completely attentive to my immediate experience, I am happy. What makes us unhappy is excessive thinking, and thinking about all that thinking—and that is why we take everything so personally.
Life is not personal, so think a little less and feel a little more. Observe your own experience without judgement or fear, and the boundless joy of being alive will shine through you. That’s true happiness, in my incredibly limited human experience.