It would be sheer drudgery if you took responsibility for only the bad things in your life. You are also responsible for the good things. If you have a vision for yourself, you can aim higher. The good things become more meaningful because you are heading for long-term fulfillment. This is much better than a string of short-term pleasures, nice as they may be. People without a vision can amass a lot of small pleasures. This kind of immediate gratification is everywhere in our society; distractions are a multi-billion-dollar business. Look at your daily quotient of idling around the Internet, video games, channel surfing, movies, snacking, shopping, and merely hanging around.
These distractions are hangovers from adolescence, when immaturity was a natural state. They drop away when life moves on and you undertake the project of building a self. The point isn't to become self-serious and reject having fun. The point is to aim for higher satisfactions that last. By developing a vision of what your life is about, you are asking, "Who am I?" and then turning your answer into positive actions.
7. Make Full Use of Your Successes
We began with the universal problem of mental misery, tracing it back to the mind being an enemy instead of an ally. When you start making your mind into a friend, each step forward needs to be reinforced. That's how the brain gets new neural pathways that last. Without reinforcement, your successes will seem to float away while your problems will seem to stick around. In reality, negativity has no power to defeat positivity. Both forces exist in everyone's mind. The real issue is to bring in as much light as you can. Negativity acquires its power through repetition, being unconscious, judging yourself and focusing on setbacks. Positivity gains its power by celebrating our successes, associating with people who are good role models, learning to be emotionally resilient, being objective about your situation and, above all else, acquiring self-awareness.
I realize that I've set out a plan for overcoming mental misery that sounds daunting if you are used to following futile tactics—most of which only postpone the day when you make a tremendous discovery, that you are not life's victim or fate's pawn. But you are the creative center of your own existence. The greatest power we have is the power to create reality. Mental misery denies you that power. Taking positive steps to turn our mind into an ally is the escape route everyone has been seeking for centuries. The essence of wisdom is to see that there is always a solution once you realize that the mind, which seems to create so much suffering, has infinite potential to create fulfillment instead.
Learn more about Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience Series.