Having the feeling of control equals happiness at outlined in research by psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman. And because of this research, many who seek emotional help (as their lives are seemingly spinning out of control) through counseling are guided through a popular teaching to learn how to take control of their lives again.
This seems very logical and I am grateful for those who help people I love very much sort through the mess of life. The only problem with this method…
Control is an illusion.
We try to do it though. We’re all a bunch of control freaks. We plan our retirements, we eat clean (which we should) but the stock market can still crash, and you can still develop diabetes.
We all have dreams.
Especially us Millennials. We take the whole ‘hope of a future, plans to prosper us’ stuff seriously (out of context with poor exegesis but none the less- seriously). We have our dreams and people been pumpin’ this “reach your dreams” and “be all that you can be” stuff into our brains ever since our little hands were big enough to accept a participation award trophy in tee ball.
We love our dreams and we obsess over them.
You may not realize this but you’re constantly thinking about your future that’s why you’re stressed. The part of your brain that plans for the future is the same part of your brain that produces anxiety.
So when you produce a dream (whether it’s a life goal or just a simple task) for your future you subconsciously assign a timeline to it and when it gets derailed or it meets an obstacle anxiety is produced naturally like a chemical reaction.
There are two reactions we have when the wheels to the locomotive carrying our dreams skip the track and derail causing soaring sparks and collateral damage:
1. Everything is Wrong and Stupid–
“I shouldn’t have to…” “This is so stupid!”
2. My Expectations of the World are Wrong and Stupid– This one requires a bit more humility, but it’s where grace is found.
There will never be a circumstance that satisfies you. Control is an illusion. Control is idolatry. Psalms says, [your] soul finds rest in God.
Don’t allow your blessings to become your curses.
Because the very organ that enabled you to dream can also become the one that tortures you.
We don’t pray to try and control our circumstances, we pray in order to submit.
Because control doesn’t equal happiness.
Submission to the one who controls everything is what brings happiness.