You Can’t Be Resentful and Happy at the Same Time
by Chris Prentiss

That Was Zen, This Is Tao: Living Your Way to Enlightenment

Our universe is perfect. It was created perfect and remains perfect through an eternity of constant change, which you participate in by being who you are at every moment. What does that mean for you? It means that when an event occurs, it’s perfect … even though it may not appear to be.

As long as you are angry or upset over an event, you will be unable to perceive its beneficial aspects. Everything happens for a reason, and the reason is so you can be benefited. No exceptions. Considering what’s gone before in your life, you may have difficulty with that statement. But if you want to obtain true happiness, it’s essential that you adopt that understanding as one of the pillars of your philosophy.

Years ago, a reporter came to interview me and I could smell the powerful aroma of alcohol on his breath. It was so strong I commented on it. He said, “Yes, I drink quite a bit every day.” When I asked him why, he said it was because he was the victim of a missed opportunity early on in his life. He had had the opportunity to go to a prestigious university but had chosen to go to a small college instead. Now he occasionally got an interview assignment from his sister, an editor at the newspaper, but his real job was driving a delivery truck at three o’clock in the morning. He also told me he was married and had children. When I asked if he loved them, he said they were the joy of his life, the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Then I asked if anything special had happened at the college he had attended and he said, “Yes, that’s where I met my wife.” I was amazed. “And you’re unhappy that you didn’t go to the other university?” I said. “You must be a madman—that’s the best thing that ever happened to you!” I saw that all his years of disappointment and drinking had been over an event that was, in reality, a huge benefit to him. After he thought about it a minute, he said, “You know, you’re right.” A few months later, I received a letter from his sister saying that her brother had quit drinking and was a changed man.

By treating events as if they are bad for you, you suffer, not realizing that these events were part of the plan to give you strength, wisdom, and good fortune. The truth is that every good thing you experienced since those seemingly unfortunate events is a direct result of those previous events. Another truth: You will never be able to experience complete happiness as long as you carry resentment for anyone or anything. Our mind cannot hold resentment and happiness at the same time.

It takes practice feeling in tune with and optimistic regarding the ever-unfolding events of your life. The next time you feel anger or fear about a situation, say to yourself: There is information in this situation that I need. I will search for what I need to know about why this situation is in my life, keeping uppermost in my mind that this is a perfect contribution to the continuing stream of my life.

Everything that has happened to you, that will happen to you, that is happening to you is perfect for you. Treat it that way and your whole existence will change—perfectly.

Taken from That Was Zen, This Is Tao: Living Your Way to Enlightenment, the newest book by Chris Prentiss. Prentiss is the author of fourteen books, including Zen and the Art of Happiness, and cofounder of the Passages Addiction Cure Centers. See





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    • Hope
    • August 18, 2023

    So true and beautiful.

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