Do you want to be a better person? Do you believe you aren’t reaching your full potential, and know you can do better? What’s stopping you? Is it anxiety? A lack of drive or ambition? Or are you a procrastinator? Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure: You can always do better. Perhaps all you really need is some tough love. I mean, someone has to tell you the truth if you aren’t getting it, so allow me.
Here are five brutally honest truths you need to hear in order to get your shit together.
1. Worrying Does Nothing
“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.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Another good quote that really puts things into perspective says, “worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.”
The fact is, worrying does not change anything, no matter how much you do it. If you are caught up in your mind worrying about what might or might not happen, you are missing out on what’s happening right now, right in front of you. By making an effort to be more mindful and enjoy the present moment, you can break this habitual practice of worrying. This is just your mind/computer trying to keep you safe, so thank the mind, move on, and tune in to the heart.
2. We Need to Actively Accept Change
“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 change on our own initiative. While conservatism and self-protection might be linked to winter, night, and death, the spirit of pioneering and attempting to realize ideals evokes images of spring, morning, and birth.”
— Daisaku Ikeda
Change is a fact of life. Everything in our lives is constantly changing, and there is nothing we can do to stop it, no matter how much we might try. You’re born and then you die, spring turns into summer, into fall, into winter. You can’t escape change, so the real question here is, how well do you adapt to it when it comes? When you try to keep things the same by resisting change, you are drastically limiting yourself, your experiences, and your potential. Learning to embrace change and to accept it is an extremely powerful tool to assist you on your journey.
3. In Order to Truly Be Happy, You Have to Look at Reality as It Is
People tend to pick and choose what they like about the world and ignore the rest — ignorance is bliss, after all. The main problem here is, without having awareness, how can we effectively create change on this planet? We have to take a deep, hard look at what’s going on around us, not so we live in fear, but so we can understand what is playing out here and why.
So many are trying to stay positive at all costs, to avoid looking at the darkness or feeling negative emotions. But we have to accept these dualities and embrace them if we ever want to be truly free. Buddhist master Pema Chödrön says, “We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs — or we don’t. Either we accept our fixed versions of our reality — or we begin to challenge them. In buddha’s opinion to train in staying open and curious — to train in dissolving assumptions and beliefs is the best use of our human lives.”
He also says:
Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.
Once you embrace and overcome the challenges and darkness, you come out better equipped to handle the next thing life throws your way.
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4. The Root Of Suffering Is in the Constant Pursuit of Temporary Feelings
“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.”
This is something that I am FINALLY starting to understand, after years on the spiritual path and doing the inner work. In the past I would compare myself and my situation to others who appeared to be happy. Why can’t I have that? I would often think. But I’ve since learned that striving for happiness can do more harm than good, because once it’s gone, you feel even lower than before. Yet all around us, we are being encouraged to be happy, to live a life full of excitement and adventure, to live our passion every second. On the other hand, when someone expresses emotions or sheds some tears, people are quick to tell them they must be stronger than these emotions, and if they feel sad they must simply not be trying hard enough to be happy. Why do we strive for certain emotions and deny the others?
This is not to say that you can’t experience joy or bliss, because, just like pain, sadness, and suffering, they are a part of life and arise whether you will to them or not. What you can control is whether you attach to your emotions or let them pass. It’s important to realize that finding inner peace brings true happiness; this peace comes from within, and no external thing can change it. When you’ve found this, you are able to accept things as they come — both the good and the bad.
5. Meditation WILL Help Reduce Suffering
This is another that is finally starting to make sense to me. For many years, despite being told over and over again Meditation will help, just try meditation, I would become beyond frustrated because I never really felt that I could do it, had extremely high expectations, and could not stop my thoughts from arising. Nowadays, my perspective toward meditation has shifted, as I’ve learned to drop all the expectations altogether, to accept my thoughts and let them be as they are. I wish someone would have told me the following years ago: “Meditation is not an effort against the mind. It is a way of understanding the mind. It is a very loving way of witnessing the mind.”
Meditation teaches us how impermanent everything is, especially our feelings. If nothing else, it gives us a chance to stop, connect with our breath, and relax, if only for 5-10 minutes a day. By connecting to your breath, you connect to the present moment; it can be as simple as that. All we ever have is now, so don’t miss it.
According to Yuval Noah Harari:
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.
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