Do you sometimes lose control of your emotional equilibrium because you feel you're being victimized by circumstances that are out of your control? If so, you will likely find this story to be of great help.
Several months ago a good friend went skiing in Chile. His plane arrived in Santiago at 4am and he was meant to meet a driver who would take him to the foot of a large mountain and a four wheel drive vehicle that would take him and others up to the top. After waiting for about a half hour he got anxious and called the resort. It was too early for anyone to be at the front desk of the mountain lodge, so he waited a bit longer, and called again, and again, until finally at about 6am he reached someone at the resort. They apologized profusely, said that the driver was a trusted employee, and they could not understand why he had not shown up. They called the driver on his cell phone and it turned out he had been asleep in the airport parking lot the whole time!
By the time my friend arrived at the foot of the mountain, the four wheel drive vehicle had already departed with five other guests. Needless to say my friend was pretty annoyed as he would have to waste a day waiting for the next ride. The resort promised him a helicopter ride to the top of the mountain the following day, and this lessened his disappointment somewhat.
The next day the driver showed up as scheduled and drove him to the helipad. He had a breathtaking flight up to the resort which helped him to feel more upbeat. Happy to finally arrive he made his way into the lobby and sensed "something was up." The owner greeted him and apologized, and told him that indeed he was a lucky man. "Lucky?" my friend replied in a testy voice, "Why is that?"
"Unfortunately," the owner said, "the vehicle you were meant to ride in yesterday was overcome by a sudden avalanche and the driver and the five passengers were swept away and killed."
My friend was stunned and stood there in contemplative silence. Here is what he reported to me upon returning:
"For the next two weeks as I skied in a wondrously beautiful environment I found myself having a new appreciation of my life. I realized how narrow my concept of a happy life had been. Previously, my happiness was based on false mental constructs of 'good' and 'bad.' When things went good I felt great. When things went bad I felt lousy. I failed to appreciate how life flows from one experience into another, and keeps on changing day by day. Sadness into happiness, anger into love. I realized I had to further open my heart to appreciate every passing emotion, every trial and challenge.
"In a moment of time that stood still, I recognized I did not have nearly as much control over the course of my life as I had always imagined. Paradoxically I found this thought comforting. I realized that even though I can't control the course of my life, if I am mindful, I can choose my emotional response to what occurs, and live a proactive life.
"Every time I assign a negative meaning to what takes place in my life, I become a victim of my own thinking. The way life unfolds is the plan. I grieve the death of the driver and his five passengers, while giving thanks for having a bit more time on Earth to live my own life and to share my enthusiasm for living with others."
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