Carpet or Shoes?

There's an ancient story of a queen who ordered the entire surface of the earth be covered with leather to make it comfortable for her to walk around. One of her advisors timidly suggested to her that perhaps covering her feet with leather may be a wiser option.

Of course we regard this story as preposterous, and yet we expend most of our energy & other resources, and stake our happiness on controlling the external environment: other peoples' thoughts, speech & behavior; our own & loved ones' health, youth, staying alive; climate; economy; and all sorts of other things over which we have little or no control.

But could it be possible that the external environment minimally impacts our quality of life? Even posing this question is heretical in our materialistic age. But let's take a look at an extreme example - 'post-traumatic growth'.

"Traumatic events such as wars, accidents, terrorism, and bereavement can create an anxiety-inducing environment in which people are faced with stressors that are outside of their own control. For some, this anxiety can produce long lasting psychological disorders and inhibit the return of normal functioning: the term posttraumatic stress has often been used to describe this phenomenon. However, numerous positive psychologists and philosophers have proposed that some people who undergo significant trauma and suffering cannot only recover from their episode but surpass the level of functioning they had before the traumatic event occurred, ‘It is through this process of struggling with adversity that changes may arise that propel the individual to a higher level of functioning than which existed prior to the event’."

Kate Hefferon, Madeleine Grealy, Nanette Mutrie. "Post-traumatic growth and life threatening physical illness: A systematic review of the qualitative literature." British Journal of Health Psychology 2009; 14: 343–378.

Research on post-traumatic growth, as well as on 'vicarious post-traumatic growth' that occurs in those who treat trauma victims, throws a real monkey wrench into our materialist mindset. Research also shows that, though poverty is challenging, there's no increase in happiness above a family income of $70,000. per year. There are many unhappy people who appear to "have it all" such as celebrities. There are also many many happy, contented people who have very few material possessions.

What if the ultimate quality of life - genuine happiness - was the direct result of being authentic, true to who we really are, being congruent - being & behaving in harmony with our true nature?

External factors currently dictate our behavior much of the time. This is highly problematic, as described by Parker J. Palmer who calls it 'living a divided life.'

We live in conflict with ourselves when ignoring who we really are, what we're all about. We need to spend much more time looking inside for solutions.

Mindfulness is about intentionally coming home to authenticity and authentic living. We can choose profound well-being:


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