Pretend for a moment that I invented a time machine, and we are able to go into the future, all the way to the end of your life.
You close your eyes, the machine makes some funny noises and then bam, you wake up in the body of yourself as an old man or woman. You are laying on your bed, reflecting on your years on earth.
You think back to those times when life was wonderful, and when it was challenging. You recall the decisions you judged as bad, the ones you judged as good, and you see it all from a larger perspective.
From your deathbed, can you imagine holding the perspective that everything in your life was a gift?
Even the terrible things that happened, the things you never thought you’d recover from, can you see that those actually had a greater purpose?
Everyone understands this at the end of their life, but wisdom doesn’t have to come with grey hair. When something undesirable happens in our life, how long does it take for us to see it as a gift?
What I’ve found is the people who lead the happiest lives are the ones who can constantly keep their life in perspective, not through numbing and avoiding their feelings, but through welcoming them, and seeing the gift in everything.
For example, let’s say you lose your eye sight in a tragic accident. Naturally you might spend the first couple days, maybe weeks, maybe even months in denial, anger, bargaining to fix the past or depressed. These are normal stages of grief.
How soon can you accept that you are blind for the rest of your life?
After accepting that fact, how soon can you start to see that being blind may be the best thing that’s ever happened to you?
If you look up the stages of grief, you will see the last stage is acceptance, but I think that’s incomplete. I believe the last stage is joy. Our work isn’t complete until we see the gift that tragedy brings us, and can feel grateful for it.
What we see when we zoom out far enough is everything in our life has a purpose, and that it’s all perfect. This isn’t to say that there is or isn’t a larger universal force guiding our life, I’m not interested in whether that’s true. I’m not even interested in debating whether someone’s life is perfect or not, I’m simply suggesting that we all have the choice to see it that way.
We have the choice to see the path our life has taken as perfect in every way.