If you're like me, there have been times when you have felt overwhelmed by the commitments and responsibilites of modern day life. There's never enough time in the day to get everything done, and you collapse in bed at night asking yourself "what is the point of it all?"
Personally, I spent many years of my adult and professional life trying to find a way to make life simpler and eliminate STRESS. But the great paradox is that every time I tried to do this I ended up working even harder and creating more projects to try to get out of the rat race.
Then one day I decided to accept the fact that modern day life just IS stressful. We all have commitments, family, work, mortgages and a TO-DO list that never seems to get smaller no matter how much "TO-DO"-ing we do!
This is stated in the First Noble Truth of Buddhism: "LIFE IS SUFFERING"
I have to admit that for many years that quote did NOT make sense to me. I had seen it before but it certainly didn't look like a very appealing way to view my life… as something unpleasant to endure.
However, I knew that 1.2 billion people on the planet wouldn’t be following Buddhism if there was not some wisdom in that quote. So, I contemplated the "LIFE IS SUFFERING" concept for a while and I believe I now understand what this noble truth is trying to teach us.
I believe that this quote is telling us that the "stress" & the unpredictability of life are NOT going to go away. No matter how many millions of dollars or personal assistants you have, life will show up with situations that you LIKE and ones that you DON'T! What happens on the outside many times is beyond our control. Our positive thoughts and attitude may attract more of the good stuff, but life itself is unpredictable. The ONLY thing that we have absolute control over is our perspective and our reaction to what happens in our life.
Which brings us to Noble Truth Number 2: "The Origin of Suffering is Attachment". In other words, it's not what happens in life that causes us to suffer, but our REACTION to it. This is good news, because THIS we can control. We CAN choose our thoughts and perspective, which is what really determines the quality of the life we live.
Being able to choose and control our thoughts sounds easy enough but it can actually be quite challenging. It usually requires three steps. The first is being aware of our thoughts and realizing that we HAVE thoughts but we ARE NOT our thoughts The second step is being able to observe our thoughts and not become emotionally engaged with them. And the third and final step is re-programming our thoughts and choosing new ones. All three steps can practiced through regular meditation.
Let's face it -the STRESS of modern day life is NOT going to go away. However living a STRESSFUL life is a choice. By changing the way you face stress, you can transform your life in an instant.
So, why not start living a more joyful and happy life, today.