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You know those life lessons that you can hear over and over and over again but until you figure them out for yourself, they never makes any sense?
And then once they do, it seems like the most obvious thing in the world?
Finding my secret to happiness has been a bit like that. It’s something so obvious and so simple…which doesn’t mean, of course, that it’s easy. Like meditation itself: simple but not easy.
So, here it is…my discovery: my secret to being happy is…
…drum roll please…
…to stop protesting reality.
And you say, what? But that’s…well, ridiculous. It’s obvious. It’s even silly.
Yup. It is. Let me explain.
I live in Calgary, Alberta. Sometimes a beautiful place to live. Sometimes a place where it would be a beautiful place to live if it wasn’t snowing…again. It snows a lot in Calgary. I’ve seen snow pretty much every single month of the year. In May. In June. In August. (I think it has snowed in July but I was away at the time.)
It’s inevitable that it will snow in Calgary when I don’t want snow.
Now, the surest way to make myself miserable is to fight something that I cannot change (i.e. to protest reality as it is). I can wish for good weather. I can yell at the snow. I can go outside with a hair dryer and try to melt the snow. (Note, I have never actually done this…but I have dreamed of a giant hair dryer that could make this happen for me.)
I can lament, protest, fight, argue with, whine about, complain about, ignore, challenge, object, dissent, threaten the snow and the only thing that I will accomplish is to make myself angry. Or annoyed. Or frustrated. Or upset. And even if I’m really, really angry…the snow is not going to go away. Trust me…I’ve tried.
So, protesting something I can’t change leads to suffering
Now, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Just because I have discovered this secret doesn’t mean I am magically happy all the time. If only it was that simple.
And this is where mindfulness comes in…in order to stop protesting reality, I have to be able to see that that’s what I am doing in the first place. I need to be able to recognize when my mind is taking me places I don’t want to go and then to see that I have a choice…I can blindly follow my mind or I can see that there are, in fact, other options.
This also doesn’t mean that I just have to lie down and accept everything that happens to me. Hell no! But I cannot make any changes without first being aware of what it there….I need to see what’s happening and see my relationship to it before I can decide to do something about it.
The snow will come or go as it pleases. It doesn’t care what I think. Sadly, I have yet to create the machine that controls the weather. So I can’t control the snow. But I do have a choice in how I respond to it. Either let myself get angry, annoyed, and frustrated. Or…maybe…just maybe….go play outside…