Sometimes in life our circumstances are beyond our control, and all we have is what we make of them.
If you are a slave and there is nothing that you can do about it then you have a choice: find ways to enjoy your existence as a slave, or, be miserable. Since it is better to enjoy life (even if only a little bit more), then, a slave may as well be as happy as they can be. Why make terrible circumstances worse by being a grump about it?
Having said that…
No circumstance is set in stone. Things change. But unless we are wanting things to change (which a happy person is less likely to do) then we are unlikely to recognise when a chance comes and capitalise on it. Furthermore, we should not provide our ‘master’ with an easy ride. Their actions are wrong and, as such, need to be challenged at every step. This requires that we be dissatisfied with our situation, and willing to endure a miserable existence to stand up for what is right, in the hope that one day things will change for the better.
In many ways, we are all like the slave, in that, we are all controlled to some degree by our circumstances. And, whilst it might not be as severe as that of a slave, it could include difficult family members, a stressful and unrewarding job, an unfaithful partner, a kid with cancer, un-popped corn… and so on.
Should we seek to find whatever enjoyment and happiness we can within these circumstances, knowing that every inch of happiness gained is an inch lost to motivation to change? Or, do we hold ourselves adamant that real, meaningful, positive change is possible and, as such, discontent in our current circumstances as the vital spur?
It’s difficult. If I go seeking better then I might end up worse. If I choose contentment then I might miss out on something better. Who knows what it is that we are meant to choose? How can we know what the ‘best’ choice is? Should the slave fight for a better life under the threat of the whip, or comply with his shackles and enjoy a more cosy imprisonment?
(This post isn’t racist, btw, because, I listen to Frank Ocean)