Ever since I started decorating and getting ready for Christmas, I have seen in every store different forms of the saying, “I believe”. It made me wonder, what is it that I believe? How have those beliefs shaped my life? Are those beliefs the guiding principles of my life? Have they helped me create a better life for me and my family?
Beliefs are different from one person to the other, but this is what “I believe” in.
- Giving is way better than receiving.
- You can choose how you react to your circumstances.
- Your ideal state of mind is not happiness, it’s peace.
- Doing the right thing is the hardest thing to do.
“For it is in giving that we receive.”
- St. Francis of Assisi
According to a study published by the journal Health Psychology, people who volunteer regularly for unselfish reasons live longer. The way I see it, there is more pleasure in giving whether it’s time, advice, money or love. Giving makes you look beyond yourself, it takes the spotlight off of you and puts it onto others. In my experience, the simple act of giving can ease pain.
When my divorce started, I devoted myself to help as a volunteer at my daughters’ school. Not only was I performing a service to the teachers and people in the school, but I got the chance to be closer to my girls in the moment we all needed it the most. Giving my time, I found something far more rewarding and I eventually became a Teacher.
“It is not your circumstances that shape you, it’s how you react to your circumstances.”
- Anne Ortlund
Controlling my reactions is one the hardest thing I try to do. Specially during the divorce when my life was up in the air and uncertainty plagued every aspect of it. Knowing how to react has become a skill, and like any skill, it needs awareness and practice to be mastered.
I love yoga and there is something that my yoga instructor says that has stuck with me. She says the way we react when we lose a pose will give us an indication of how we react in our everyday lives when something goes wrong. Since then, I stop myself frequently from answering right away. I always try to think before I speak. When I am angry, I try to stay quiet until I am able to express my discomfort in a non aggressive way.
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”
- Virginia Woolf
I always thought that being happy was my ultimate goal in life. It’s even written on the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. The funny thing is that life itself gets complicated along the way. At times happiness seems impossible to achieve. With my divorce, I discovered that even in the saddest moments there was a way to stay afloat. The way to achieve that was inner peace.
Peace doesn’t mean that problems will not arise, it means that no matter where life takes you, there will be always something to hang on in a way that your circumstances and emotions won’t take the best of you. How did I do this? I recognized that every single moment is temporary, every single problem has an expiration date.
During and after my divorce, being at peace has been more important than being happy. Peace means that no matter the circumstances, you can stay calm and not let the outside world disturb you beyond repair. Happiness comes and goes, but peace will help you navigate through it all.
“In the end, you should always do the right thing, even if it’s hard.”
- Nicholas Sparks (The Last Song).
In general, one knows what is right and that is wrong. What is not clear is whether we are up for the challenge that is doing the right thing or not. Doing the right thing is a choice. A choice you get to make every single day. From the most simple thing to the more complex ones. The struggle with doing the right thing is the fact that it usually requires you to go the extra mile. It takes a lot, but the satisfaction afterwards is worth the hassle.
Knowing and doing the right thing during divorce can be complicated. That desire to get back at the one that hurt you, the one that tried to push you to do things that are not right is real. Always try to keep your North Star in sight. My girls and their well being kept me on the right track. Doing the right thing is not always easy, but it’s the most rewarding thing to do.
My divorce has been the most painful experience in my life to date, but I didn’t allow it to take away my beliefs. Instead, I leaned on them to move on and build the life I wanted for me and my family. I still believe and have hope. That hope keeps me going. Where will I end up? Well, I don’t know yet but what I do know is that I am still writing my story. I believe it will be a great one!