If. Wishes. Hopes. Our lives slide past us while we wait for the world outside to line us up like an eclipse. We’re waiting for the right person. We’ll be happy once we’ve found our soulmate. We just don’t want to be alone. In our world all the single people are secretly unhappy and all the married one’s are truly fortunate. And despite the fact that we believe that, it’s actually a ridiculous and unsustainable idea.
First off, there are a lot of people in relationships they wish they could escape from. Maybe they’re held there through psychological abuse, or violence, or threats, or maybe they can’t leave financially, or they don’t want their child to be absent a parent… there are a lot of violent, abusive, addicted people in the world and we can bet that a lot of those good-looking marriages have their share of those people in them.
Secondly, there are a lot of very happy single people who are enjoying their freedoms and who can still have a variety of different relationships to fulfil a variety of needs—even intimate ones. So there is no way to be. We’re not right to be in a relationship, nor are we wrong. It’s the question that’s nonsense.
If we are single then it’s important to meditate on the difference between loneliness and simply being alone. One can be painful and the other can be a very enjoyable time. The key difference is that the painful one features a lot of wanting thoughts, while the enjoyable one features a lot of appreciative thoughts.
If we’re by ourselves and we’re sitting there thinking wanting thoughts about how we wish we weren’t alone, or we wish we were with a special someone right then, then we are habitually sitting by ourselves, voluntarily thinking torturous thoughts. That will obviously lead to tortuous feelings.
That is not a wise thing to do. Especially when we could be looking at the same circumstances and be revelling in peace and freedom instead. But if we don’t know how to be happy when we’re alone, then we won’t know how to be happy when we’re with someone.
A person can wait on us hand and foot, they can offer kindnesses or suffer abuse and it will not change what is in our heart. That is entirely up to us. That is our part of the universe. We have free will within it. And we will absolutely, positively, definitely and certainly get exactly what we ask for.
What this means is that we could be sleeping next to the person of your dreams, but if you’re thinking about the fact that they don’t pick up their underwear, then that person will appear to be disappointing even though they were supposedly our answer to happiness.
Similarly, if we’re alone and we’re using our thinking to compare our single reality with our previously-imagined married reality, then that will hurt too. We will imagine that we have failed, but if we’re paying attention to the upsides of being single, then we are literally living in a situation where we have the freedom to choose a life that keeps pace with our own personal rhythms. If we think gratefully about that we will have a life that feels good even though we’re single. Bottom line, the single part has nothing to do with happiness.
If we’re sitting there thinking that a relationship is going to make us happy then we do not understand where happiness comes from. If we’re sitting there in a relationship thinking we’re unhappy because of our partner, then we don’t understand where our happiness comes from either. We must know how to appreciate the situation we’re in before we can say we are wise about happiness. Because it’s not people or things that make you happy. It’s us.
Have a happy day.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.