The Winding Path To Contentment

It is okay to admit that the things we thought would make us happy, in fact, do not.

Every single one of us has a story, perhaps even several, that we tell ourselves, about what our ideal life might look like. We think, if only we could have or experience this or that, we would be happy. We tell ourselves, and maybe others, if only the circumstance, occupation, or relationships we are in were different, we would have peace or freedom or success.

The problem is that sometimes we get exactly what we thought we wanted or needed and find ourselves no more happy, no more content, and no more at peace than we were before. Quite often, instead of admitting and accepting that our circumstances are not the cause of or the cure for our internal state, we simply change our story to cast blame on some other external variable, disregarding the fact that we are the constant in the equation.

If only we were able to admit to ourselves that we were wrong, that our desires were based on false assumptions, that our limited knowledge and experience did not allow us to see the full picture, and that this is not a tragedy, but a blessing, we would find ourselves able to make progress.

It is okay to be wrong, to change our minds based on new, more accurate information, and it is okay to change course mid-journey if we find ourselves at an impasse. What is not okay is to keep going in the wrong direction in spite of ourselves, in spite of what we know to be true, and in spite of what our hearts are telling us we need.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Corkywk says:

    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

    1. Very true. Thanks for commenting.

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