We all need to overcome obstacles when living life, for the sake of survival. Sometimes the obstacles are very challenging and difficult to bear, yet as hard as they are to face, it is important to eventually do so in order to live a truly fulfilling life.
According to Buddhist philosophy, happiness comes from accepting and warmly embracing all aspects of life; even the apparently negative ones. While focusing on we want is important, denying the negative and turning a blind eye to reality can cause us to resist certain natural forces of the universe.
Here are 5 truths about life that we would all benefit from knowing:
1. Worrying Is Useless
While worrying helped our ancestors stay alive while foraging for food in the wild, it has lost the majority of its value, as humans today instead require clear thinking and rested emotions in order to function optimally.
Worrying tends not to change the circumstances of a situation, so it ends up being a stressful waste of time. As the wonderfully compassionate Buddhist master Thích Nhất Hạnh teaches, try to remain focused in the calming present moment without diverting the mind to the “future conditions of happiness.”
“Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation of the world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don’t know how to breathe, smile, and live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone. I am happy in the present moment. I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness or conditions that will bring about more happiness. The most important practice is aimlessness, not running after things, not grasping.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
While many of us experience the stress of worry without wanting to, it’s important to remember that this is okay and is very normal, yet there are also certain valuable ways of thinking and practices that really do help in reducing the feelings of worry, even if just a little bit.
2. If We Want To Be Happy, We Must See Reality For What It Is
If we want to be truly free, then we must see reality for what it really is, and only then will be we able to navigate ourselves to our desired destinations. We must be conscious, and instead of getting stuck in our own ideas and opinions, we need to stay open-minded and be able to accept whatever truth arises.
Pema Chodron teaches that, “We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs – or we don’t. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality- or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha’s opinion, to train in staying open and curious – to train in dissolving our assumptions and beliefs – is the best use of our human lives.”
When it comes to feelings, what we often refer to as “negative emotions” are usually normal feelings and expressions that are coming from our deep inner needs. If our needs are often not being met, sometimes this is expressed by the human emotional state as frustration, anger and resentment. In understanding where these feelings arise from, and being able to communicate the needs behind them, we find that we’re able to meet our needs more easily and relieve, accept and embrace the feelings that we once thought were “negative.”
3) We Need To Accept Change Actively
Everything in life is always moving, always changing, temporary and impermanent. Many of us try to keep things the way they are, “fixed” and “constant,” in order to be comfortable and to have a sense of security. Yet the laws of the universe state that everything is in constant motion, and to resist this reality is to cause ourselves unnecessary suffering.
By accepting and embracing change, we’re able to adapt and to truly create the lives we want. As Buddhist Daisaku Ikeda explains,
“Buddhism holds that everything is in constant flux. Thus the question is whether we are to accept change passively and be swept away by it or whether we are to take the lead and create positive changes on our own initiative. While conservatism and self-protection might be likened to winter, night, and death, the spirit of pioneering and attempting to realize ideals evokes images of spring, morning, and birth.”
4) The Root Of Suffering Is Pursuing Temporary Feelings
Happiness is a wonderful thing, yet craving a constant and permanent emotional high of excitement, joy, or euphoria goes against the reality that all feelings are only temporary emotional states that are bound to change. True happiness comes from inner peace; a serene state of deep inner acceptance where we realize we do not need to change anything about ourselves, but can simply accept and enjoy the many wonderful thoughts, feelings and expressions of the heart as they arise.
Yuval Noah Harari explains that, “According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness, and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings and stop craving them.”
5) Meditation Is A Good Path To Reducing Suffering
Meditation is the peaceful training of the mind, feelings and body to become calm, rested and still. It is taking some time to honestly self-reflect and to be clear about what’s going on inside of our own psychology. It helps us to see through the mind’s processing of the past and the future, and to rest in the only reality that actually exists; the present moment.
“This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices: In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realize how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasizing about what might have been. The resulting Serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it.” – Yuval Noah Harari
Have you learned any wonderful truths about life that have helped you?
Let us know in the comments.
You are loved.