I had a friend walking a beautiful spiritual journey. One day she told me that she was working on giving up preferences. This fascinated me and I think of this exercise often, especially when something has upset me. She wasn’t doing it in a hopeless way, she wasn’t giving up on pleasure. Quite the contrary. She was allowing herself not to be displeasured by not liking something “that way.” Or wishing for something to “go differently.” And in this letting go of preferences, she was more free to embrace all the lovely things in her life. And she did.
We spend our lives searching for the quick fix to all our problems, while the answer is right under our nose. Teasing us again and again with its obviousness once we remember, till our foreheads are red from smacking it.
I should have known this.
No. Judgement doesn’t help. That is part of the problem. It stops us from celebrating and integrating that which would benefit us.
Maybe we don’t deserve to benefit.
Yes, you do.
Yes, you do.
Today I have the “quick fix” for you, the elixir of a good life.
It’s probably hard.
Only when you think it is.
This one tip, by far, is the single most important skill you can learn to adjust to whatever life might throw at you. And the best thing about it is that it is available to everyone and it is not just ONE THING. It is the opposite of one thing.
The best thing you can do for yourself is: Be flexible.
Yes, that is it. Just be flexible.
Yes, in life we start out simple. As babies, we eat, sleep, and poop. Simple. Then we have complex experiences. And we go through all kinds of complexity of the mind, body and soul. (The more rigid we are, the more complex things get- the more anxious we get.) Once we figure out life, we see that it is all really simple after all. But we had to go through the complexity to understand this simplicity. Thus the “just.”
(Sometimes people judge a friend or family member as simple. Yet, I wonder if they are already on the other side. We think they are behind us- not deep thinkers- but they are happy. Do you know someone like this? I often wonder if they are really ahead of us. You know, sometimes deep thinking gets us into the most trouble (Not that it is linear, but there is no other way to describe it.) but I digress.)
When circumstances outside (or inside) of us have us feeling out of control, we tend to become more rigid (emotionally and physically) as we attempt to get ahold of our world. This is a missed opportunity, because the one thing we have to control is the only thing that matters.
I can control me–my responses-my expectations-my preferences. I can go with the flow and bend- enjoying myself and what is around me or I can lament my misfortunes about what is not, what I am not, or what I don’t have. My response to life makes the meaning that will set up the stories in my life. It is these stories that I will experience. It is these that will make me happy or not.
Not wishing to be other than we are is called content. It is called being.
But this is painful.
The suffering is wanting to be different.
I know, I know, you like things a certain way. “If only they were that way, then it’ll be easier.” You expect what you want to expect. But that is often the source of our problems. We expect too much. The process is much smoother when we let go of needs and expectations. (See last Wednesday’s Anxiety Schmanxiety post).
Or are you wanting? Are you being?