Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An 'extra' day, another decision (or two)

Well, I guess we won't see February 29th for another four years, which is how long we'll have to wait for an 'extra' day. 

Today the weather on the east coast was pretty dreary, and so I can't say that I spent this 'special' day as I would have preferred- on a leisurely walk or exploring a new park. 

But I did make a decision- actually two. In life there are situations that we do not enjoy, but somehow have to bear. However, there is a difference between just gritting our teeth and letting an unpleasant situation take over our lives. Last night I was really upset about a major snag in getting my dissertation deposited, due to a situation beyond my control. I was reminded by my husband that it might not happen when I want it to (now!), but it'll happen. Up to this point my obligations have been met, and so now is a great time to finally let go, calm down, and give myself permission to think about something else. 

And he's right. We can develop attachments to situations, even if they are unpleasant- sometimes especially so. As strange as this is, when we step back to view our obsession, we realize that we were ensnared by self-centered thinking. As per my own experience, viewing adverse circumstances this way can quickly snowball into feelings of resentment and anger- even when the situation I am reacting to has been resolved.

The Buddha taught that attachment and the delusion that we are a separate entity with control over the world around us are a great source of suffering. Only by correcting this delusion and eliminating our self-centered desire for things to be just as we please can we face life's adversity with courage and grace.

I have decided: 1) However unpleasant a situation, I will deal with it as best I can. The circumstance will eventually pass and doesn't define me. 2) The minute an unpleasant situation is resolved is the time to let it go. I think that choosing important goals and working towards them a little bit each day might also serve as a distraction to prevent any adverse situation taking over my life.

Of course making these types of decisions is easier than becoming ever-mindful of them, but refusing to be jerked around by attachment and delusion is another step to living a happy, authentic, and fearless life.

Can you relate to this post? What is your strategy of dealing with unpleasant situations?

May all beings be happy!

6 comments:

  1. Sometimes it's helpful to look ahead about 100 years or so and see how the present unpleasant situation appears from that vantage point.

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  2. Thanks anonymous, for that simple but excellent advice. The implication of the 100 year (or even one year- or one month!) vantage point is that any one problem is usually not so great in the grand scheme of things. Thank you for your perspective.

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  3. Thank you Renata for sharing this excellent post of yours with me!

    Much peace and happiness to you and yours!

    For me, when a situation arises in my mind that troubles me with great anguish as though it was ripping away at me like the claws from a tiger, I take slow, smooth, deep breaths, becoming aware of each breath until whatever suffering I felt, becomes, no more.

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  4. Thank you, Now! I think your way of dealing with adversity is also a great one. Nice descriptive words, too- I can almost feel the resistance of deep, calm breaths to the 'tiger claws' of anxiety and anguish.

    May you be well!

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  5. I like your phrase "face life's adversity with courage and grace". I can relate to this post. Sometimes, my "strategy" of dealing with life's unpleasant situations is avoidance, which, of course, never works. It is bound to come back to haunt me later. Thanks for posting.

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  6. Thanks so much, Dan. I can also relate to your comment. In the past I have resorted to passivity instead of being involved and engaging things head-on, which is also a type of avoidance. Didn't help me either, and I think made my husband suffer because my attitude made it harder to share responsibilities. He is much happier now that I am more involved. So many things to learn in life!

    Thanks again for commenting, may you be well!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment! If you enjoyed this post, please share with others. -With Metta, Renata

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