Many years ago, on my journey of spiritual quests, I had asked one of my teachers, “Where do I find the strength to overcome the difficulties I have faced?”

“In the strength of your soul,” she had replied.

“It is the strength you and all people have, so long as you wish to acknowledge it and put it to good use in your life,” she had said.

I remembered… I contemplated…

Recalling specific experiences in my life, moments when everybody around me was in a state of panic, bewildered that I continued to smile, I recognized the twofold nature of my existence. One part that was in a state of shock and at the same time another that was experiencing an unprecedented sense of serenity. “I’m either going crazy, or something else is going on,” I mumbled to myself.

Divorce, death, parental absence, separation, financial ruin, loss of home, severe hardship, great emotional deception, lack of support and understanding from those closest to me filled me with great pain, fear and anger.

And yet I went on, as if an invisible hand were lifting me up –again and again during all my times of difficulty –only to set me down on firm ground.

There were moments when I turned my gaze toward the sky pleading, praying, continually asking for guidance…

And the answers came as if by magic…

The gift of writing –and the way it manifested itself in my life– revealed to me that we are beings of greater complexity than we could imagine. Writing brought me in touch with that serene and strong side of myself that I had once been unable to recognize. I understood that everything happened, as it was meant to happen, for my evolutionary course. Perhaps this is difficult for some to accept, especially when they are feeling their pain, but this awareness drastically changed me.

With great strength of will and the help of each of my teachers, I removed the veil blurring my view of life. Along the way, the imperfections of my human nature may have made me lose my balance many times, but I always found a way to regain my strength. My inclination to go toward the Light and my desire to remain there guided me to my core.

There was a smile on my face even when I was sad. A smile emanating not from delusions and utopias, but from my new-found consciousness that had started to illuminate my existence. Everything was warmly welcomed. I had acquired awareness for each moment, whether pleasant or difficult, of ‘who I am’ and why, of ‘what is happening to me’ and why, of ‘what I am feeling’ and why, of ‘what am I doing’ and why.  My greatest challenge was to allow myself to go with the flow, to interpret life and take from it what is best.

I recognised my worth in my very existence, the meaning of my life in my apprenticeship, my purpose in my evolution. Life became a friend, a teacher. My experiences were not there to torment me, but to teach me, to heal my wounds, to set me free and to help me move forward. By so experiencing my positive approach to life and gaining greater inner strength, I no longer allowed situations and people to trample over my heart, to tread on my dreams, to imprison my wants, my vision, my freedom to be myself. My life belonged to me and I would decide what to do with it.

And that is how –comprehending and experiencing the true meaning of self-love more and more– I moved forward then, move forward now and will continue to move forward because I have chosen not to nullify my truth, my values, my enthusiasm, my joy and my desire to be happy, whatever happens in my life.

I can persuade no one to be happy if they do not so desire.  But I feel the need to share this approach and experience of happiness with other people, on a personal as well as on a collective level.

And that is why I smile. It is the smile of my soul.

Amalia Eirini Tzimopoulou