I’d like to share with you a story that my spiritual teacher and dearest friend told me. Once upon a time, there were two seekers of enlightenment climbing in the Himalayas. One seemed more surefooted and climbed at a faster speed. He was conflicted about whether to wait for his friend to catch up or to keep going at his own pace. Finally, he decided to continue without his friend, journeying in a way that felt natural for him and allowing his friend to do the same.

It was a long and arduous trip to the top of the mountain, the home of the Enlightened One. When the faster climber finally arrived, he was granted a meeting with the wise master. He was very pleased with himself and hoped that his friend would have the same opportunity one day. Soon he was in the master’s presence. He bowed respectfully, and when he looked up at the Enlightened One, he was amazed to see the face of the friend who had been left behind! Things are not always as they seem.

Everything That Occurs Is Perfect, Even If It Doesn’t Appear to be Perfect

The story clearly illustrates how we make assumptions about the paths that others take and how we really don’t have all the information—we just think we do. Every step we take is just perfect as it is. Each of us has our own path and expression. We have our own timing. We are each responsible for ourselves and no other.

By shifting our focus to what others are doing, we inhibit our growth. It’s important to listen to inner guidance and honor the path within each of us so that we don’t get in our own way. Refrain from being concerned about the progress or lack of progress that others seem to be making. If we had the Big Picture, we would see how each person is contributing to the whole (even someone who acts like Attila the Hun!).

I’m reminded of an incident that enraged one of my clients. Erin is a conservationist and values all life. She loves the outdoors and tends her garden faithfully. One morning, at 5:30, her sleep was cut short by loud noises coming from a neighbor’s backyard. She looked out the bedroom window and couldn’t believe her eyes. A row of 30-year-old elm trees was being chopped down, leaving unsightly stumps near her property line. Many of the cut limbs dropped on her side of the fence.

Erin couldn’t understand how anyone could butcher those beautiful trees. Her neighbor never gave any indication of his intent and had made no arrangements to clear the limbs from Erin’s property. My client’s first reaction was to rant at her neighbor. But she resisted. On a deeper level she knew this action would just fuel the fire and could turn into a nasty feud. (She has learned that what goes around, comes around.) Yet she was struggling with her emotions. Every time she stepped into her garden, she was reminded of this brutal act. She felt that her peaceful haven had been violated.

Erin realized that she is not a vengeful person and that the trees were gone and nothing she said or did would change that fact. She took the high road, allowing herself time to privately vent and grieve, and finally she came to the state of acceptance.

Accepting the Actions of Others Restores Balance

Getting to acceptance of an incomprehensible, hurtful situation requires wisdom and strength. It is when we accept the behavior of the other—without judging or condemning it—that we contribute to balancing these harmful energies. So, rather than focusing on what the other has done, we need to handle our own violent thoughts. As we do, others will adopt this new behavior for themselves.

Research has determined that once critical mass is reached, others can easily tap into it and make a similar choice. In our example, when sufficient individuals match Erin’s behavior pattern of transforming thoughts of violence and destruction, others benefit. We are all part of a process, spreading “idea seeds” affecting each other throughout our culture. Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors can pervade an entire group.

Everything that happens is perfect, although it may not appear so at first glance. We don’t have all the answers, but a grander purpose of the tree-cutting incident may have been to allow Erin an opportunity to recognize her violent reaction, learn to balance the volcanic eruption within herself, and thereby contribute a peaceful resolution to the world. This illustrates how each of us can take responsibility and make a difference.

About a month later, the same neighbor placed his home up for sale. Erin believes that she may have contributed to this event. By making the choice to let go of her anguish and substituting peaceful behavior, she was no longer emotionally stuck to this person. Maybe an opening was created for a new, more like-minded neighbor to move in. Stranger things have happened. Be open to the concept that things are rarely as they seem.

Consider the notion that there may be hidden meaning in all events and that these events cause you to evolve. When conventional thinking prevents your understanding of a situation, elevate your point of view. See with the eyes of your soul, not your ego.

This material is excerpted from More Drama, Less Fun—Your Roadmap to Personal Freedom.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways2.html.

Author's Bio: 

Barbara McRae, MCC, is a nationally known Master Certified Coach, a best-selling author, and an internationally syndicated columnist. Barbara is a recognized expert in professional coaching, as profiled in BusinessWeek magazine, USA Today, and The New York Times. She coaches remotely via telephone, facilitates workshops, and has been featured in various media outlets, including radio, TV, national magazines, and newspapers. She is the author of Less Drama, More Fun. For free assessments and resources, visit http://www.enhancedlife.com.