Joy comes from total acceptance of what is.
As you go through life see how you are continuously wedded to your preferences. If you are like most, you want the world to unfold the way in which you would like it to.
This may come as a shock to you because you think of yourself as ‘easygoing’ and ‘open minded.’
Nevertheless, it’s possible you are a control freak. You just don’t admit it or recognize it in yourself.
This control freakiness manifests itself in subtle ways. Slight flushes of irritation when things don’t go your way such as when a dithering driver can’t make up his mind which way to go and when he finally does turn his delay causes you to get the long red light at a busy intersection.
Or the slight flash of pleasure when things go the way you would like them to such as when you go to a favorite restaurant and see that dessert is half off with order of any entrée.
You want people to laugh uproariously at your jokes, applaud your speech and recognize you for the kind, wonderful being you are.
And in ways big and small you alter your behavior in a manner that you think will get you the response you want.
Yes, you are a control freak. You just don’t admit it and point to someone who is even more so as proof that you are not.
Here is a radical idea for you.
Can you try to accept what comes without trying to make things happen the way you would like them to?
Can you ‘want’ what comes rather than trying to make what you ‘want’ to come?
Can you train your desires?
Actually you can.
Swami Dayananda was a teacher of Vedanta who always got a gales of laughter with this tale.
Devout Indian women consider it a great honor if a sage comes to their house for a meal.
They are not above indulging in one-upmanship such as “The swami only came to your house for breakfast but he came to my house for dinner.”
Swami Dayananda was visiting a new city for a ten day Vedanta camp and lunching at the home of a devotee. She had prepared an elaborate feast and loaded his plate with many items. One of these was a curry made from Karela – bitter gourd – that he did not like at all.
He decided to finish it first so he could then eat the items he liked. It is bad form to ‘waste’ food in any form. So he swallowed it down with water.
His hawkeyed hostess noted this and, before he could protest, ladled a double serving of Karela curry on his plate. Swami Dayananda, with great difficulty, finished eating all of it.
There is an effective grape vine used by devotee housewives. The next one to host Swami Dayananda asked the previous one what dishes he liked and heard that he really liked Karela curry because he finished it first and then relished the second portion she gave him.
And wherever Swami Dayananda went hospitable wives and mothers prepared large quantities of Karela curry for him.
At this point Swami Dayananda would pause for impact.
And then he delivered the punch line.
“So I decided to like Karela curry and it is now one of my favorites!”
It is an amusing tale and, delivered by a master raconteur, leaves the audience in stitches.
But there is also a lesson in it.
What would you have done? Would you have gotten word out that you really did not like Karela curry? Would you even have hinted at or outright stated your culinary desires?
Would you have tried to impose your preferences on the world or would have let it unfold as Swami Dayananda did?
As you go through life, consciously recognize how much you are bound and ruled by your preferences, your likes and your dislikes.
And gently, ever so gently, let some of them go.
When that dithering moron gets you stuck at the red light, smile and wish him well and beam out good will.
Try this for a week and see how it changes your experience of life.