As the Buddhist teachings say, “to live you must experience suffering.” Throughout life, it’s natural to endure sickness, injury, tiredness, and old age. However, when we look at our emotional suffering, such as loneliness, doubt, frustration, fear, embarrassment, anger, jealousy, disappointment, etc., these feelings are more difficult to accept. When we feel upset we often get impatient and want to rid ourselves of these unpleasant feelings.
Many personal troubles involve being preoccupied with wanting something different.
When we want something and are unable to get it, we feel frustrated. When we assume someone will live up to our expectations and he or she doesn’t, we feel let down and disappointed. When we become consumed with fear of what might happen in our future, we push away from the present moment. Even when we want something and are able to get it, it is momentary happiness because it is not long before we feel bored and begin to want something else.
We become consumed with wanting things to be different. It’s exhausting. But like Buddha said, “the way to happiness is actually quite simple; the secret is to learn to want what you have and not want what you don’t have”.
It is the appreciation of things, and the awareness of their true value that brings happiness. How many times have you gone to someone’s tastefully decorated home or visited a beautiful country ranch, and said, “I wish I had this”? We don’t need to ‘have’ something to value it. As Voltaire, the French philosopher, expressed, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
The problem is we tend to get stuck in defining ourselves by what we are feeling in a particular moment. Fortunately, feelings are not permanent. Moods can come and go. Most psychological suffering comes when we spend too much time and energy focusing on the fears of our future, on what we don’t have, or what we fear we can’t accomplish.
Happiness is primarily dependent on how we think about our self and our life. Luckily, we can revise the things we say to ourself, and shift our focus so what we think and how we act feels better.
Whenever you feel yourself losing focus and wondering when you’ll be happy next, catch yourself and notice what you are thinking. Your thinking is what makes you feel
fearful, or discontent.
Uncomfortable feelings are just as valid as positive ones. Feeling guilty or disregarding how you feel will keep you in it longer. Instead, take a breath, bring yourself into the present moment, accept what you are feeling, and give caring attention to your mood. Then you can explore what actions you need to take to create genuine feelings of enjoyment and gratitude in the present moment.
Remember, all we ever have is right now. Take each day as it comes. Have you ever noticed the grass is the greenest where it is being watered? In order to create a life that feels good, nurture what you want to grow with acceptance, patience, appreciation and tender care.