Obsessing about getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t want does not result in happiness. The Lojong text
As long as you’re focusing on fulfilling your desires, you’re going to end up being miserable. Obsessing over getting what you want and complaining when things don’t go your way is a little absurd after all. So, why do we do this to ourselves?
Your happiness is not limited to what chance happens to send your way. You can reframe your perception at any time and focus on what you can control. Try to create internal strengths like establishing positive thoughts, sound reason and look for wisdom rather than knowledge. It’s one thing to know that you have a problem. It’s an entirely different reality to understand how that problem came to be and what you can do to resolve it.
At any given moment, your actions and choices will be limited by a thousand obstacles beyond your control—wealth, law, strength, time, location, genetics. These are just a few of the obstacles you will face. Your thoughts, however, can be limitless if you train your mind to accept what cannot be changed and to overcome what is possible.
We don’t do that though. We tend to practice escapism rather than mindfulness in our culture. We just can’t seem to enjoy living in the unpleasant moments. We’re strangely more motivated to snap the perfect selfie–to share with strangers on the internet–than we are to risk experiencing the uncomfortableness of reflecting on the quality of our lives.
I think therein lies the crux of the problem. Living in the moment requires you to experience and accept the disappointments and unpleasantness that surround you within any given breath. You experience the passing of time and the consequences of the choices you make. You must experience something in order to appreciate it. So, if we fail to reflect on our decisions and disappointments, is it really a surprise we fail to appreciate life? If we lack the capacity to appreciate living, then where do we expect to find happiness? In death?
How many things are superfluous we fail to realize until they begin to be wanting; we merely used them not because we needed them but because we had them. And how much do we acquire simply because our neighbours have acquired such things, or because most men possess them!Seneca
I think we fail to realize how many of our possessions are really pretty extraneous. Our parents and grandparents enjoyed their youth and middle years without many of the conveniences we enjoy today—cellphones, the internet, on demand streaming services, endless varieties of food, Amazon, Google, and now everything is available for delivery straight to your home—the list goes on for quite some time. The point is if we were born in a different era all of these things obviously wouldn’t have mattered. None of them were necessary for our parents to enjoy life and find their place in the world. So, why do you allow them to matter to you?
Have you ever noticed how at one moment we can be enjoying our latest purchase and telling our friends all about some new feature and two minutes later we can suddenly be overwhelmed when we discover something doesn’t go as we planned. Maybe our credit card won’t scan correctly at the checkout line or perhaps we find a ding in our new car’s door. The truth is that many of the things we let exasperate us don’t really matter on their own when we separate what happened from how it impacted our plans.
We’ve given these objects the power to upset us because we lost track of what’s really valuable. We stopped looking for value in ourselves and now we’re left with an unsatisfiable desire for something “more” that can’t be fulfilled by the material world. So, we ignore our feelings and go on buying “more stuff” and being disappointed when everything doesn’t turn out the way we wanted.
The truth is that there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying the conveniences and luxuries of the modern world. I mean we all understand that an object can’t be good or bad. An object is just an object after all. It’s a collection of molecules arranged by nature and tempered by men to serve a purpose—nothing more. So we have to look at how we value and use those objects that determines if our decisions add value or inhibit our personal growth and development.
Is our sense of purpose and fulfillment really something we can measure and buy? Why do you work all day—every week—for decades? Is it to afford the latest fashions and gadgets or are you searching for your place in this world? We all have bills to pay, but are we working just to pay those bills or do we use our careers and salaries to help us fulfill a deeper human purpose? I think that’s the unspoken struggle we face. Objects and possessions are tools. How are you using yours? Are you using your resources to improve your mind or to distract it?
He who indulges in empty fears earns himself real fears.Seneca
The universe seldom give us everything we want, but it always seems to provide a means to get what we need.
You didn’t have a choice of where you started in life. You got the hand you were dealt and you had to make it work for you. If you’re lucky, you may get a second chance at times—more often than not, you won’t.
It’s helpful to remember that though we do not have complete control over our own life, we can control our response to the experiences we’re given.
Nature isn’t concerned with the individual. You’re one of billions, and there is no cosmic scheme to guide you toward fantasies of destiny or illusions of everlasting happiness. You are the source of your own inspiration or defeat.
You could always lie down and wait for better days to come your way—but they likely won’t. You could also recognize that there is no universal agenda holding you back—you may face obstacles, but you are also not destined for failure. Somewhere, between the obstacles beyond our control and the random luck that makes some moments pass by with ease, is the fallacy of Fate. It’s the lie we tell ourselves when our hardships are greater than our resolve to overcome them or the dream we long to believe that emboldens us to grasp for more when our blessings are at their height.
In then end, there is really only one agenda holding you back—yours. It’s your prerogative to decide how you wish to frame your life.
- Are you a victim of your experiences or a hero determined to overcome them?
Everyday we can find ourselves in a sea of endless possibilities. Somewhere a tempest is brewing, and it is only a matter of time before it finds its way to us. What are you going to do when disaster or hardship finds you?
- Will you do nothing and hope for the best?
- Will you prepare for the worst and be content to face whatever you find?
- Do you give up and throw away everything because you can’t have it all?