Want to be happier? Quit trying to herd cats.

Has someone ever used the phrase “control freak” when referring to you?  In the past, I’ve reluctantly had to describe myself that way at times.  These days I call myself a “Reforming Perfectionist.”  (That has a much nicer ring to it, don’t you think?)  Occasionally, I have to put the heavier emphasis on the word “reforming,” but I have made a lot of progress over the last few years in refraining from micromanaging my life.  I realized that trying to find happiness and security in that way is as futile as trying to herd cats.

“Like herding cats = (idiom) something that is very difficult to organize and do.”  (idiomeanings.com)

640px-Herd_of_Cats

“(It’s) like herding cats = This expression refers to the difficulty of coordinating a situation which involves people who all want to act independently.” (idiomcenter.com)

In order to obtain more of that warm, fuzzy feeling of happiness, I had to ponder some cold, hard facts:

  1. I will never be able to completely control my surroundings.  Life IS change, and sometimes life IS chaos!  To coin another old idiom:  “You will never have all your ducks in a row.”  Items will always be added to the bottom of my “to do” list as fast as (or faster than) I can check tasks off the top of the list.
  2. The only person I can completely control is myself.  (Some people say they can’t even do that.  “I couldn’t help it when I…”  But that is an entirely different subject for another day, perhaps.)  No one is going to spend his whole life doing everything just the way I want him to, so why exasperate myself by trying to make him?

There are much more productive uses for your time and energy than trying to have everything your own way!  And at the end of the day, you might — just maybe, mind you — just possibly — occasionally find that your way was not the best way after all.

To clarify, I’m not advocating that you accept injustice or refuse to take action when needed.  I’m simply emphasizing the need to cultivate contentment in our daily lives.

contentment cat picture smaller

adapted from photo by Chris Jones

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One thought on “Want to be happier? Quit trying to herd cats.

  1. Congratulations on realizing you cannot control others. You have managed to realize that fact much sooner than I have. I have seen people in my life who try to control everyone, and everything, in every situation they encounter. Those people are obnoxious. You get older, you get tired, and you do not care if you control the ants and mice that enter your home. Ha

    Liked by 2 people

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