We’ve lazily equated impatience with drive, with high standards. But patience does not imply satisfaction with current results. It just shows we are mature enough to accept present reality as the basis for action.
We can build resilience. The good news is that it takes only three simple steps. The sobering truth is that it may involve repeating those steps several times a day for the rest of our lives.
Life carries us within it. Taoism sees Life as one big process in which ‘things’ or ‘happenings’ are related and progress in a single flow. That movement follows one principle called Tao. Tao is how reality unfolds. Life’s fundamental relatedness means that you are not independent of nature.
The world’s wisdom traditions point to one truth, but each highlights distinctive features. Spend time with each to see the summit from different angles before choosing your path to it. Here’s what I’ve found in several.
Spiritual progress involves movement toward surrender or letting go, and this corresponds to a shift in the view of self: from being a separate agent to being an inseparable aspect of a unitary process. With that recognition, it becomes clear that security, certainty and control don’t exist and never did. We may feel anxiety as a product of moving into vulnerability and openness, while still carrying a sense of separateness.
Stoic wisdom from the cradle of Western civilisation is at odds with the 21st century global mindset of chasing short-term pleasure and avoiding discomfort at all costs, but it resonates strongly with principles from the East. It has improved countless lives across varied cultures and eras, suggesting that it might still have value for us today.
As a person, I walk this Earth for some eighty years, a body harbouring a mind. Beyond this human evidence, I suspect there is more to me. In magical moments I can conjure a glimpse of my greater self. When I access it, my world calms.
I’ve not managed to meet the challenge I set myself last week, an exercise in giving. Still, neither the world nor I am worse off for the effort. In fact, we might both be just a bit better.
I’ve been told that the best way to improve low mood, doubt or worry is to give to others. I’m going to find ten people a day who I can give to, along with ten distinct things I can give. After five days, I’ll let you know how it’s gone.
I have to be careful to keep my stress and anxiety from making things worse for the remote loved ones I most want to help through this. Can I avoid crossing the line that separates supporting my loved ones from demanding that they feel well?
Whether we call it Life, the universe, reality or God’s will, there is a whole of which we are a part. As a part, we can’t bend the whole to our will. You have never been secure. No one has ever been secure. Now we can admit it.
Much of my reading tells me I long ago settled into who I am. Am I fixable? Are you? I think the answer to this has three parts: 1) a tough truth, 2) a reason for working on ourselves and 3) the prospect of a liberating perspective.
What if it is not the love of another that you feel? Could it be that in moments of being loved, you stop asking reality to be different? Perhaps that warm, magical feeling comes when you stop fighting life; when you stop withholding your unconditional acceptance. In other words, when you love.
Don’t take an unhelpful stream of thoughts as yourself. You would do better to treat them like you would a persistent, annoying person spouting often contradictory opinions.
Clarity of intellectual understanding can be a refuge for some personalities, a final bunker in which the sense of separateness shelters from what it most fears — melting into the flow and direct experience of life. Until we deal with our deepest physical discomforts, we cannot move past concepts to reality itself.
Don’t be an ass. Put down your burden. When you forgive, you shrug off a weight, unshoulder a burden. You are lighter, free of a load that has sapped your energy, stolen from your life. By teaching your mind and body that the strong sensation within your resentment is no threat, you give yourself a most beautiful gift.
When Tami Simon, founder of Sounds True, asked renowned teacher and author Mary O’Malley to define enlightenment, she answered that it happens when the head, heart and gut align. Here’s what she might have meant, and what it implies for us.
Like a child in the driver’s seat of a fairground ride, the mind has good intentions as it fiddles and fidgets to drive with perfection. But the child’s steering has no real bearing on the car’s travels. This steering wheel cannot override the guiding rail.
Although we can acquire or achieve with impressive frequency, although we can discard or dodge with admirable efficiency, the holes we fill and blights we escape always give way to new ones! There is no end to satisfying our wants or escaping our dislikes, but there is a deeper current to this stream of life.
As persons, we are objects, with pasts much greater than our age and futures more enduring than our life expectancy. But we are special objects, each with a unique subjective window on the world. And within your window is yourself, both as subject and as object.