You Can’t Control for Happiness
I seem to be entering a new phase in my interpersonal relationships here in DC, and I like it. Perhaps it is not a new phase so much as an old phase revisited after having acquired greater insight and maturity through experience. Either way, I think I can best summarize the new emphasis in this way: chill out and enjoy life and the people around you. In large part, this shift has been possible because of the friendships I’ve been able to form with my neighbors, who are a great bunch of girls. Associating with them helps me be a better and happier person, plus their house is a lot less ghetto than mine. In a way, it is like having a family again – although incomplete, there are discernible parallels, for which I am very grateful. I feel that my social life in DC up until now has been more solitary and self-centered than is healthy, but it is starting to turn around as I am now able to enjoy a greater sense of community.
This city seems to attract people who are preoccupied with being in control, and mostly sub-consciously. I don’t necessarily mean self-control, which I think is a virtue, but rather being in control of all situations, the desire to be the one pulling the strings instead of the one whose strings are pulled. I do not think this inclination is all bad, and certainly I think it is understandable for all who live in this dangerous and uncertain fallen world. Nevertheless, I think preoccupation with being in control stunts our personal growth and curbs our happiness, and I think it is something we all grapple with to one degree or another.
I think preoccupation with control is a particular hindrance for developing healthy interpersonal relationships and sharing the gospel (two things which are closely related and, as I see it, require many of the same skills and attributes for success). Both require a sincere sharing of thoughts and feelings in a context of respect and love. Also, both must be done with a respect for individual choice, and certainly cannot be forced. It seems to me that love, openness of thought and feeling, and a respect for the freedom to choose can clash very much with being in control. However, ultimately the fruits of the former are so much sweeter than the fruits of the latter. Yet, relinquishing control in these two areas of life, as necessary, is easier said than done. It requires patience, trust, and a certain calm inner strength and confidence which can seem quite elusive (but is, fortunately, even more attainable in this life than we may realize). Also, it requires that we put forth an effort to offer something precious and valuable (our friendship or the gospel) without expectations for recompense or fear of failure. In other words, that we give people an opportunity to act and accept an invitation, that we do the right thing, without worrying too much about the consequences.
Anyway, these are just a few of my abstract thoughts on the matter. What do you think?