By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.
Everybody wants to be happy. But, who is in control of your feelings? You? Somebody else? Life itself?
Once, I had just flown back to L.A. After waiting in a long line, I managed to get a taxi.
When I got in, the driver asked, “Where to, sir?” He sounded nervous.
“OK! That’s better,” he said, pleased.
“Why?” I asked.
“This morning, I’ve been driving around and around the airport. Finally I had one customer. I asked him where he was going, and he says, ‘Manchester.’ That was it! It made me so sad.”
I was laughing. “Oh, I see. So you have two buttons in your heart? One is for happy, and one is for sad? The passenger who goes to Manchester pushes the sad button, which makes you unhappy, then the one who goes to Santa Monica pushes the happy button and makes you happy for the rest of the day?”
The driver smiled. “Yeah! Isn’t that interesting?”
Just like the cab driver, most people allow their emotions to be controlled by people and events outside themselves. They go through life being very careful not to let anybody touch their sad buttons. When the button is pushed–the boss gets angry, the kids won’t listen, or the traffic is terrible–there seems to be no choice but to react negatively.
This reminds me of a story. A monk who loved Chinese Orchids had planted one in a pot and raised it for many years. When he had to go on a trip, he asked one of his students to take care of the plant. The day before the monk returned, the student, who had been caring faithfully for the flower, accidentally dropped the pot, and the orchid died. The student felt awful and approached the monk fearfully to apologize.
But the monk said, “I raised the orchid because it gave me joy. Why would I be sad or angry now that it is gone? Why turn all my happiness to sorrow?”