The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
It's always a balance. Part of the challenge is to find out how much we want to fit into the majority views of society and how much to stay true to our deepest, unique, and perhaps even eccentric self.
The key to having spiritual happiness along with outer happiness is to find a balance where you can be true to yourself, while still fitting into society in a positive way. You could choose to just pursue your inner dreams without any consideration for society's opinions, but that might end up leading to an experience of spiritual happiness without outer happiness. It's up to each one of us to find the right balance of outer acceptance and spiritual happiness for our personal natures, lessons, and goals.
Now, I'd like to share with you one of my ongoing lessons in encountering others who have wanted to tell me what would make me happy. I've had a series of experiences regarding my choice of clothing style that have given me numerous opportunities to explore this balance between being congenial to those around me, while still being true to my personal nature and style. The basic fact is that I don't like wearing any clothes or shoes that are uncomfortable. My natural tendency is to dress simply, naturally, and for maximum comfort.
Through the years, every now and then, someone who knows me will come up with a brilliant brainstorm. "If only she dressed better, she'd be so much more attractive!" I've experienced this scenario many times, and with various friends. They get that bright look in their eyes, as though nobody has ever thought of this epiphany before. As they'd gently broach their offer to help me "put together a few outfits," I'd be thinking, "Here we go again!"
At one point, while living a monastic life at the ashram, I was given a substantial clothing allowance. One of the more fashionable women who lived there - a manager's wife, no less - offered to go shopping with me so she could help me choose more fashionable clothes. This woman also had that glint of "makeover time!" in her eyes. I was trying to be surrendered to giving new clothing suggestions a try, and ended up with several bags full of things like tight jeans and itchy wool sweaters. I gave them a chance, but in fact, they didn't have a chance of becoming a part of my comfortable wardrobe. "Let's see, what shall I wear today - the stiff, tight jeans with the clingy, itchy blouse, or these nice khaki pants and soft flannel shirt? Hmmm..." This reminds me of the story about a dog with a curly tail.
Once there was a dog that had a very curly tail. His owner wanted the dog to have a straight tail, and created a pipe to put over the tail. He'd pull the tail straight and placed the pipe over the straight tail. The tail would become straight. Then the owner took off the pipe, and zing! The tail would curl right back up. The owner would leave the pipe on the dog's tail for a day, a week, and then a month, but whenever he took the pipe off, the tail would curl right back up again.
This is how I was with all these friends who tried to get me to dress well. I tried to be open to upgrading my style, but found that the expectations of being "well-dressed" were uncomfortable in more ways than just the itchy, tight, fancy clothes that were being suggested. These styles weren't reflective of my nature, and trying to wear them created a sense of conflict and distance between my inner being and my outer presentation. I'm sure this is not unfamiliar to many who have to wear neckties or high-heeled shoes for their jobs (hopefully not at the same time!)
Learning to stay true to myself in this one area of clothing style also helped me learn to stay true to myself in other arenas. At the same time, I do try to be harmonious with the environment around me, whenever comfortably and honestly possible. It's always a balance.
Contemplate how you can maintain the integrity of your true beliefs in the midst of worldly expectations - to what degree and in what way. Some historical spiritual figures boldly espoused their spiritual wisdom and truth, and were martyred or crucified for their honesty. We are so fortunate today to have much of the world living in freedom. Therefore, let's take advantage of this blessed time, and take a chance on our dreams, whatever they may be.
Trust in the truth that's inside of you.
Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
Book, e-book, and audio book
The Audio Book:
Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
Table of Contents
by Sharon Janis
Section One: Exploring Happiness
Section Two: Introducing Spiritual Happiness
Section Three: 39 Secrets of Spiritual Happiness
3. Know Thyself
14. Choose Happiness
28. Be a Blessing
38. Enjoy the Trip!
39. Be Optimistic
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