There's a fairly well known book titled "The Obstacle is The Way" by Ryan Holiday, and as you can guess, the basic premise is that the setbacks we experience in life don't impede our success, but rather pave the way to it, if we let them do so.
I read this book a few years ago and to be honest, I don't remember much more than that. But I want to expand on this premise and perhaps talk about it in a more everyday light. My hope is that we realize that the little things that currently get in the way of our happiness are actually stepping stones to becoming unconditionally happier.
It's paradoxical, but true.
You see, part of our spiritual growth, where the rubber meets the road, doesn't happen when life is happening the way we want, but rather when life hits our stuff, which is more often than not. When the car cuts us off, when our boss gives us an assignment as we're heading out the door at 5pm, when our significant other says or does something unfair. All of these things hit our stuff, and they seem to become obstacles to our happiness.
Let me repeat that. They seem to get in the way of our happiness.
So how could those things actually lead to our happiness? Any logical mind would say, "I don't want that, get that out of here! I want to be be happy. Leave me alone and be the way I want you to be."
However, a wise person like Mr. Holiday realizes that the things we perceive as setbacks and hindrances are in fact opportunities for us to let go of the part of us that gets upset at silly things. Effectively, this becomes our way to happiness.
When we practice letting go throughout our daily life, being willing to release the lower part of our selves that bitches and moans and makes us unhappy because things aren't the way we want them to be, we transcend to a higher part of ourselves. This is where freedom is found. It's not easy. But it's the way. It's the only way.
The problem with how most people view fulfillment - inner peace, love, and joy - is that it's conditional on the outer world. "I'll be happy later when I see my dog! That's when I'll be happy! But now. Ohhh hell no! That asshole just cut me off!"
By the way, "happy" doesn't necessarily mean smiling or acting oblivious to what's going on around you. It just means letting go of the part that doesn't serve you, and knowing you're the one inside, unchanged, experiencing everything around you.
My approach (the one that I'm learning, not the one that I stand preaching on a tall mountain) is to say, "no, I want to be happy no matter what - if someone cuts me off, if someone yells at me, if my boss dumps a pile of papers on my desk at 5 o'clock - I may not like it, I may not prefer it, but it happened. Now let me deal with it in a constructive way rather than bitch and moan for the next four hours and get nothing done."
I've tried the latter approach for almost 28 years and I'm tired of it. I want to be happy no matter what.
Live with Substance!