Monday, March 16, 2009

that's life..

You don’t always get what you want, and that makes most people feel unhappy. If you are born, you are eventually bound to experience both physical and emotional pain. Birth, aging, illness, loss, grieving, as well as disappointments happen to every single one of us. This isn’t all bad. We can learn a lot from the problems that we experience. Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude. They teach us that life is what life is: flawed, yet with incredible potential for joy and fulfillment. Until we fully learn this lesson, we are burned time and time again by our unrealistic expectations of perfection.

We were all children once and I’m sure at one time or another thought that life was supposed to be fair and if it wasn’t then we would become victims of our circumstances. But then we grow up and learn how to be mature and liberated adults. Balloons burst, love carries no guarantees, and everyone has to visit the dentist. Everything in life is at least a little bit broken or unreliable.
Autumn and sunsets – two beautiful times of the year and day. Yet very short-lived. Of course there are times in our lives when we feel totally overjoyed by simply being alive. Maybe after listening to a great piece of music, having a terrific conversation with a friend, celebrating a promotion, speaking at your sisters wedding. These are moments of genuine happiness. The difficulty that we all face is that these moments don’t last: the music ends, your sister gets a divorce, the new job turns into a stress-producing headache, etc. Nothing good lasts forever, even the best moments of life undergo changing circumstances.

All of this is not to to make you question your happiness, but rather to make you question where you derive it from. There is a cause for life’s difficulties and that cause is craving. The never ending thirst that won’t quit – desire, hunger, for various experiences and different things, - hence we continue to suffer. It’s not that we have to get rid of the things we desire. The objects are not the problem. It is our attachment and our identification with what we crave that causes suffering. The above are all ‘things’ that can supplement to enhance a fulfilled life full of love and joy, or they can distract from it.

In this culture who can resist the craving for wealth, power, or sensual pleasure? There are so many billboards, so many advertisements, and so many shopping malls grabbing our attention. What can we do with our craving in a world in which we are all encouraged to lead fantasy lives in which we are always investing in the uncertain future, waiting and hoping to be picked up and carried off on a white horse... or red convertible..

What to do? ‘Know thyself’. Simple message. Make you happy and love who you are. All of the ‘extras’ that you can experience; not derive, but experience your joy from – family, work, achievement, success, sunsets and sunrises, will mean so much more. Learn to enjoy the fleeting moments of happiness and in the moment; realize it all may come to an end one day but you will still have your internal self to live with. And that’s life; not a bad thing – to experience great joy we also must experience great disappointment. The only thing you can be certain of in this world is who you are.

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