Pain + Resistance = Suffering
Accept difficulty. Trump is the 45th president of the greatest nation on earth. Sometimes things are just difficult. Especially when your 8 y/o tells you “oh mommie, good its raining – let’s hope he catches a cold so he cannot be the president”. You know you have to work on acceptance and more importantly compassion so we wish ill for no one, not even for those whose actions we disagree with.
Sometimes things are just difficult. The arm-balancing you have been working on for weeks is not quite there yet. Then there are all the little hassles of everyday life. You are at Starbucks and can’t get wifi (now that is really not acceptable!). On our way to work, the traffic is held up because THE president’s motorcade is passing! – can we remind ourselves that this too is part of making a living. One of the hardest things in life and one of the most valuable – is to be with what is exactly as it is, seeing it and feeling it fully . . . while also making wise efforts, as appropriate, to change it. Acceptance is not complacence or indifference. It’s a feeling of openness, non-resistance, recognition instead of denial, it’s the embrace of the truth, accepting things as they are, even if they’re not your preference. Coming to terms with how you feel about the situation and honoring the pain that it causes.
To accept that life contains unavoidable difficulty is not to minimize its impact or suggest that we should give up trying to make life better. But by resisting difficulty, we add unnecessary frustration, anxiety, and self-criticism – “it shouldn’t be this way” mentality. When we try the attitude of accepting difficulty instead of getting aggravated by it – we are a lot more peaceful. Avoid the belief that life should be fulfilling, peaceful and buffered from pain. Keep softening around the inherent difficulties in living. Notice that when you stop resisting a difficulty, it starts feeling less difficult.
During difficult times, keep up your personal practices – regular exercise, meditation, moments of gratitude – the things that nurture you. The more difficult your life becomes, the more you need to take care of yourself. Difficulties come and go. Let the mantra ‘this too shall pass’ soothe you.
Know what you can control and what you can’t.
“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control and some are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule, inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.
Within our own control are our own opinions, aspirations, desires. These areas are quite rightly our concern, because they are directly subject to our influence. We always have a choice about the contents and character of our inner lives.
Outside our control are such things as what kind of body we have, whether we are born into wealth, how we are regarded by others, and our status. Trying to control or to change what we can’t only results in torment and if you attempt to adopt the affairs of others, you will become a frustrated, anxious and fault-finding person.”
The Art of Living – a rendering of Epictetus’ Discourses, the West’s counterpart to Buddhism by Sharon Lebell