How to rid your life of negativity and be truly happy
I greatly dislike the root word NO! It has a way creating problems for me and creating a ton of anxiety in my life. Then there is also the word not, as in cannot “can’t”, do not “don’t”, and will not “won’t”. And, for good measure I will add “never” and “always” to the list of my dislikes. Note, that this the last time you will find any of those words in this article. Why, because I am at peace and happy in my life and I can write in a positive tone when I want.
What do all those words have in common?
1. They all have negative connotations.
2. They are commonly used by negative people.
3. They destroy happiness.
4. They destroy trust between two people.
5. They drive a stake into any relationship
6. And, they create stress for all involved in a relationship
Unlike most of the columns on This Week I Learned, I have a personal stake in this column. Let me take you back to February 28, 1961. I was a teenager and anxious to get on with my life after school, get a job, earn some money of my own, and find my self.
Unfortunately, the U.S.A. was in the middle of the Cold War. The Kennedy administration remained essentially committed to the Cold War foreign policy inherited from the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, which opposed any government that thought differently than that of the U.S.A.
In his inaugural address, Kennedy made the ambitious pledge to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty."
While Kennedy was against the deployment of American combat troops and observed that to introduce U.S. forces in large numbers, while it might have an initially favorable military impact, would almost certainly lead to adverse political and, in the long run, adverse military consequences. However, Kennedy, acting on advise from Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and his advisors John Kenneth Galbraith, Maxwell Taylor and Walt Rostow recommended that U.S. troops be sent to South Vietnam. By November 1963, there were 16,000 American military personnel in South Vietnam.
And, thus I found myself as a young teenager, embroiled in a war that was beyond my understanding, and my personal support.
During the Vietnam Era it is has been estimated that as many 1,170,476 people died and another 608,200 were wounded, although the actual numbers could be much higher as these are only the reported casualties.
Unless you have personally been involved in the killing of massive amounts of individuals, including innocents; men, women and children you have little idea how that can impact a young impressionable teenager. And, how it continues to haunt those involved for decades, until they pass on.
After Vietnam, I was changed forever. Today, I have put behind me the negative aspect of war or for that matter any form of negativity. It was after experience the horrors of war that I began my search for peace, serenity and tranquility.
My journey was to take much longer than I thought, and it would eventually take me to the southeast coast of India, where I became a follower of Aurobindo Ghose (Sri Aurobindo) who lived from 15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950 and his spiritual collaborator, Mirra Alfas (The Mother) who lived from 21 February 1878 – 17 November 1973.
Sri Aurobindo developed a method of spiritual practice he called Integral Yoga. The central theme of his vision was the evolution of human life into a life divine. He believed in a spiritual realization that liberated man but transformed his nature, enabling a divine life on earth.
I visited The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which is a spiritual community (ashram) located in Pondicherry, in the Indian territory of Puducherry. The ashram grew out of a small community of disciples who had gathered around Sri Aurobindo after he retired from politics and settled in Pondicherry in 1910. On 24 November 1926, after a major spiritual realization, Sri Aurobindo withdrew from public view in order to continue his spiritual work.
I also visited the village of Auroville (City of Dawn), which is an experimental township, near Pondicherry. It was founded in 1968, and is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.
Like, Aurobindo, I chose to spend my time writing in solitary, rather than fight the negativity that might be imposed on me by those outside my own life. In order to escape the negativity, I decided — like Aurobindo — to withdraw in search of peace, serenity and tranquility. For me, my personal choice was the south of Mexico, just six degrees north of Pondicherry.
Here, I have found — for the most part — my happiness.
It is only when I come into contact with others outside of my peaceful existence in Cuernavaca that I am confronted with negativity. And, I have — for the most part — learned how to avoid negativity in my life. I am able to go outside of my home, traveling internationally where I come into contact with a wide diversity of individuals, cultures and societies. I have been able to create many long-lasting relationships with people who think differently than I, but in which I find great joy.
How, you might ask is this possible? It took me years to learn how to deal with others, especially negative people. I have found that the key lies in simply accepting the fact that they are simply a different individual. They think differently than I. They act differently. And, most of all I only have to live up my own expectations of me.
I have learned to successfully avoid the negative aspects of others. When confronted with negativity, I push it away. And, if another individual is persistent in their negative manner, I push a bit harder each time. There are times when another person will continue to persist even becoming angry that I disagree with their actions and thoughts.
Usually, I opt to simply leave the conversation or walk away from the individual until they have come to their senses and realize that they too, must accept me for who I am. That to attempt to force me to believe in their negativity is counter-productive and they will lose.
Many fail to understand that they must be responsible for the consequences of their own behavior. I am solely responsible for my own as well. This means that one should look inward at their own problems, needs and wants. Take the responsibility for changing what you will about yourself, allowing others to do the same.
In other words, I believe that a person must stand up for their beliefs, take responsibility and act on their own. Like Kennedy I am willing to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty." My liberty — and I am willing to allow you the same measure — as long as you respect my rights.
If you can find it in you to take control over your own responsibility for the consequences of your behavior and allow me to do the same with my life, perhaps we can have a friendship. I know it is possible — as I have a great many close friendships with people around the world that are based on that very principle.
Bill, what a wonderful story about your experience in Vietnam and your search for peace. I too was drafted by the government to go to Vietnam, and was forced to acknowledge my part in the murders to protect the world from Communist rule. Like you say, it has been a long journey of some 54 years.
Even today, there are those who fail to understand that Vietnam was really little more than a marketing ploy to restore faith in the U.S. government after the failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and a negotiated settlement between the pro-Western government of Laos and the Pathet Lao communist movement. The U.S. and especially Kennedy (and his advisors) who inherited the problems led to the belief that yet another failure on the part of the U.S. to gain control and stop communist expansion would fatally damage U.S. credibility with its allies and his own reputation. When the public realized this, they turned against the Vietnam War and all of those who were drafted and sent their against their will.
There are those who oppose Communism, but are unwilling to praise those who died to protect them from Communism. People are really ignorant in thinking that freedom is free. The young die for their freedom, so that they can live in peace.
Congratulations, Bill, on the success of your journey and your finding of peace. And, thank you for your service for all the citizens of the free world. Billions live better lives and sleep well today because of those were forced to to live through the war.
I have known you for a bit over 50 years (has it really been that long since we were in University together), Bill, and have always envied your ability to stand up for your beliefs, and take responsibility. I have also watched in awe over the years as you have helped so many with their problems (including me a few times!). You helped me “push away” my own self-destructive negative ways and find true happiness and for that I will be forever grateful, to you Bill.
While all deserve to find happiness and true friends, few are willing to put forth the effort. The world and the people in it are becoming increasingly more narcissistic and single-minded. It is difficult to find anyone with the wisdom that you have, Bill and I am fortunate to have shared a wonderful friendship with you. My husband Don, says hello and thanks for all you do, as well. We both enjoy reading your column and have shared many great conversations after reading them.
Have a blessed life, Bill
Julie and Don Moore