“In theory there is a possibility of perfect happiness: To believe in the indestructible element within one, and not to strive towards it.” Franz Kafka’s words have stayed put in my mind since the first time I read them. Maybe it was because I secretly wanted to find that key to perfect happiness; maybe I simply wanted to know what exactly he meant.
I tried to break it down, see if I could get to the literal root of his words. Kafka seems to be telling us that we can be happy if a) we recognize the fact that we all have the ability to take on and handle anything, and b) we accept the fact that trying to be perfect will cause us to suffer.
While this is all a bit complex and above my head, I have managed to glean one piece of useful advice from it: It is important to accept limits.
Acceptance isn’t desirable, it isn’t fun, and it can make you feel like you have lost. I’m here to tell you that if you can accept the limits of a situation and work within them, then really you have won.
We all have the innate desire to fight for things when they don’t turn out in our favor, and that’s a wonderful thing. Standing up for what you believe in creates strong people and strong wills. But in a way, so does acceptance.
Accepting that you may not be able to affect a situation you’re placed in can be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding decisions to make. Recently I have found that much of the pain and grief I suffer is not from an actual unfortunate event or thing, but my unrealistic desire for things to be different.
No one can avoid being put in situations where they are powerless, and no one can avoid wanting the situation to turn out differently. But at some point it stops being viable to fight every problem one has. I’m certainly not saying we should be completely compliant, but rather that we should choose our battles and accept that some things are simply out of our reach.
While it’s not always ideal, accepting situations in my life where I have no power to change things has made a noticeable impact on my happiness. I’ve started to worry more about the things I can control.
Kafka gave us one more insight in those words of his. We can all be indestructible, but that’s not really what being a human is about.