In Charge…but not in Control

<July 2007>

I’ve believed for some years now that the Universe looks after me. I’m also known to say frequently that I figure I’m the wealthiest woman in the world. Yet I earn less money (by tens & tens & tens of thousands of dollars) than pretty much everyone I know (except my brother Cliff), & for sure there are circumstances in my life that are not exactly the way I would order them up if I had a handy magic wand at my disposal.

There are several reasons why I feel so well looked after & I’ve written about all of this elsewhere (key variables are friendship; meaningful work, although not necessarily the paying kind; service to a large cause; conversation; walking; gratitude; frequent attendance at places of great natural beauty; women friends; loved ones; music & singing).

I think a key element here is that I know down to my very blood & bones that I am firmly in charge of my own happiness. As a matter of fact, my own happiness is pretty much the only thing I’m in firm control of. The one & only thing…

I cannot control the weather, political events, what my daughters say or think or do, or what my many dearly-beloved friends do or say or think, but for sure, I am in charge of my own happiness.

I’m in charge…but not in control.

Agnes Repplier said “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” (Another great way of putting this is "Happiness is an inside job.")

Now, I only picked up this powerful lesson about being in charge (but not control) after a violent & nasty encounter with a brick wall at about 500 miles an hour. After I picked myself up & dusted myself off (this took a few years, by the way), I grasped the hard-won lesson that I cannot control the things that happen to me – or the people in my life – but I am very definitely the architect of my own happiness.

And I’m determined to be happy, darn it!

So I focus on the positives in my life, & I fill myself up with positive emotions (gratitude is right at the top of the list) & I do meaningful work that I love (mostly volunteer work – “changing the world” – through environmental activism & writing) – & I quite often feel full to bursting with joy & gratitude – & am probably one of the happiest people you’re liable to meet.

You too are in charge of your life, you know, in the same ways I am. And your own happiness.

Abraham Lincoln said “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

I do know people who suffer from depression – quite a few, as a matter of fact – & another quality I work on practicing faithfully is compassion – so please understand that I have considerable compassion for those who suffer from depression.

[A woman whose books I greatly enjoy is Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause – Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the Change. In the latter book, in discussing depression, she says, “…depression is one way your body’s inner wisdom tells you that something in your life is out of balance.” She adds further that, “It may also be a hint that you are angry with someone…” and she advises “The best cure for depression that I know is to be completely honest with yourself about everything you are feeling – even, and especially, those feelings you’ve been told you shouldn’t have, such as jealousy, anger, guilt, sorrow and rage… All of these feelings are part of being human. They will never hurt you if you simply acknowledge them, express them safely, and, ultimately, accept yourself for having them. Then you must take action. I’ve never seen depression lift without the sufferer taking some kind of positive action to help herself. This could be as simple as volunteering at an animal shelter.”(1) I have recommended this book to sooooooo many people…]

Life is a complicated business. Some of us had really, really, really difficult childhoods – & some of us are heir to quite troublesome genes – & life is a mixture – a great, goloptious, weird, unpredictable mixture of history & genes & experiences & intention.

Our intentions are hugely important.

What is it we intend?

I suspect if we all begin shifting our intentions to personal contentment (which I would hasten to point out cannot be bought, whatever the balance in our chequebook) & the long-term survival of our tribe (i.e., the human race), we will soon see miracles of all kinds occurring around us. 

We are magicians, we humans; we are capable of working transformations of all kinds.

Thomas Berry says in The Great Work – Our Way into the Future, “We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future. We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation.”(2)

Mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme says “The universe oozes with power, waiting for anyone who wishes to embrace it.” (Swimme is author of The Universe is a Green Dragon, a no doubt delightful book, which I have not as yet read myself; I read his remark about power quoted in Matthew Fox’s The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance(3).)

Henry Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Paul Hawken says some very neat things about intention, & reading his book Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming(4) put the word intention into my consciousness in a new way… And Marianne Williamson says very inspiring things about women in her awesome book A Woman’s Worth.(5)

I say, we all have magical powers.

We are in charge, but not in control.

We can all feel, I think, as I so often do: full to bursting with joy, gratitude, great ideas, energy & projects & love if we so choose and oh my goodness, what we are capable of will surely surprise & delight us all!                                    


(1) The Wisdom of Menopause – Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change, Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D., Bantam Books, 2003. Page 310.

(2) The Great Work – Our Way into the Future, Thomas Berry, Bell Tower/Random House, 1999, Page 175.

(3) The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, Matthew Fox, HarperSanFrancisco, 1988. Page 40.

(4) Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming, Paul Hawken, Viking, 2007.

(5) A Woman’s Worth, Marianne Williamson, Ballantine Books, 1993.