This is the difference between heaven and hell. Are you responsible for the way you feel or are external circumstances responsible? Are you a tree, with roots firmly planted in the ground, or a leaf blowing around whichever way the wind goes?
Most people behave as if they have no control over how they feel, as if life is something that just happens to them. Some believe control of your life is supposed to belong to this cosmic parental figure who divvies out rewards and punishments based upon personal merit. Determining the exact rhyme and reason can be confusing, it almost seems to happen at random, which leads people to believe that either “God works in mysterious ways” or to dismiss the whole idea of God and believe that life is happening largely by random chance. Either way it seems like life is outside of your control.
It's true too, life is ultimately outside of your control, though that's not to say you don't have enormous influence over how your life unfolds. More often than not, you helped to create the “bad luck” in your life. It's your choice to flow with Life or to fight with it, to struggle and resist. One way works far better than the other, but ultimately you don't have control over your life. That's not how the Universe works, and that's not how God works. It's through the Divine we each have within ourselves that we co-create our lives together. Your life isn't just you, it includes everyone and everything that's a part of your life, and it happens on a level of complexity that your mind can barely comprehend, much less control. While logic has it's place, life works much better when it's lived intuitively. Flow with Life instead of trying to exert rigid control over it.
While you don't determine every aspect of your life, you do determine how you respond to those things. There are people born into extreme poverty and people who are horribly disfigured who lead immensely happy and fulfilling lives. Then there's people who are extremely wealthy and perfectly healthy but they are immensely miserable and unhappy. If the way we feel within was really based upon external circumstances, this wouldn't be possible, but there are people who go through extreme tragedies and emerge even stronger and happier.
Now, I'm going to make a distinction now between a reaction and a response, this is something crucial to understand. A reaction happens unconsciously, it's the way you've been trained to behave. Someone insults you and you get angry, a basic kneejerk reaction. A reaction is extremely predictable, and it makes you very easy to manipulate and control. TV commercials, politicians, the mainstream media, they all use the very predictable ways that people react to direct people where they want them to go. False flags being used to justify a war is just one of many recent examples.
A response is something completely different, where a reaction happens unconsciously, automatically, a response happens consciously. Reactions happen out of habit, but with a response there's the possibility of breaking out of the habit. You become aware of your choices, and the more conscious you become, the more possibilities open up. An unconscious person will react to anger with more anger, while a conscious person can respond with compassion and help to break out of the old “eye for an eye” cycle of hatred, violence and injustice. A reaction always comes from the past, while a response happens in the Present.
Taking responsibility for your life increases your response-ability. If you don't believe you're responsible, then life is something that just happens to you and you can't help but react. If you are responsible, then every thought, every moment, every action you take becomes very important. You are actively creating your life through all those things, and awareness of everything you are doing becomes vital.
To some, me saying that you're responsible for your life is going to seem cruel. What about starving children in Africa, are they responsible? People like to point to someone else's life to justify their own negativity. It's the exact opposite of taking responsibility for your own life. It's a bit racist to view Africans as these powerless victims of globalization, and I guarantee the many successful communities in Africa don't view themselves that way. Even if you don't have enough to eat, something I've experienced personally, having a negative reaction isn't going to fill your stomach. It's only going to make your suffering worse, drain your health even more, and make you feel powerless to change. It's certainly a noble thing to want to help others, but using the suffering of others to reinforce your own suffering does nothing to help anyone.
Then there's things like the death of a loved one. It seems that we can't help but suffer after something like that. There's an old Taoist story of three Masters, one of whom had just died, so a disciple was sent from another school to offer condolences. When the disciple arrived, he saw the remaining two Masters happily singing and dancing. The disciple was very upset, how dare they be celebrating when they were supposed to be mourning! Yet there they were, happily celebrating the life of the other Master, and if they were mourning anything it was the fact that he got to leave first instead of them.
Losing a loved one is something that happens to virtually everyone. As much as people want to ignore this fact, the physical body doesn't last forever, and sometimes people leave far earlier than it seems like they “should”. Part of what makes this difficult is that this whole death thing is suddenly shoved in our faces when we've been doing everything we can to avoid it. We don't mourn for the dead, we mourn for ourselves, for our own loss. When put that way it seems kind of selfish, and it is, though I don't want to encourage any guilt, but awareness of what's going on. Being sad doesn't help a dead person at all, and with a little shift in perspective, death wouldn't have to be such a negative thing, especially when witnessing the eternal nature of the Soul. The death of someone close to us could be a catalyst for massive positive change in our lives, it's rare, but it does happen.
It's your choice how to respond, don't go giving that power away. This is part of why meditation and awareness are so important. When you really observe what's going on, you will see the thoughts in your mind that give rise to your emotions. Then it's up to your whether you want to hold onto those thoughts, and keep feeding your energy into them, or simply let them go.
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