Thursday, April 25, 2013

Getting to the bottom of discontentment

A friend just came back from visiting southern Europe and the first thing she tells me is how much Sweden sucks compared to where she went. Stockholm is too cold in April; the grasses are not green yet; the beer here sucks (she doesn't even drink beer normally); this is crap; that is sh*t. It actually made me quite upset and I really wanted to tell her that she can leave this country right this minute if she wants to. Nobody is forcing her to remain here. 

It made me think why I am so upset about this.. I also think it's kind of cold for April. I guess when I stand in the gorgeous sun, seeing how it illuminates this breathtakingly beautiful city, it feels tough to stomach someone complaining non-stop about it. If one can complain being among this much beauty, then everywhere on earth is hell for her. She may like how the southern European city looks, but I'm sure she'll easily find something to complain about there if she lives there for more than 1 week. 

But why else was I so upset? The complaints were annoying but not outrageously offensive. I guess it's because I couldn't pull myself out of this situation soon enough. There are plenty of Debbie Downers in the world. One can easily walk away from them and go towards to more pleasant, grateful people. But I couldn't seem to just walk away. I just stayed at the breakfast table and listened until I couldn't stand it any more. The real reason I was so upset was my own lack of competence to handle uncomfortable situations like this. It's an old habitual pattern that I acquired as a kid, and I can't seem to kick it.

I haven't been practicing yoga lately but I am glad I am noticing these samskaras (habitual patterns) in my every day life. It's so built-in that even though I've noticed what's wrong, I am aware of what I *could* do in the situation, my behavior, still on auto-pilot mode, follows how I've always handled this kind of situation in the past rather than my logic. It's like I have 2 selves: the acting self and the (sometimes) wiser observing self. The reasoning brain also has two parts: the fast acting part says, "Your friend is the reason you're upset", but the slow acting part takes awhile to kick in and say, "You could have done something about it but you didn't. You are upset because you gave up the control of the situation when it was really under your control". 

A big struggle for happiness/unhappiness is to figure out what type of events/situations are under our control and what are not. I cannot control the weather, or other people's words and actions. I can however choose where to live, how I interpret other people's word, and how I act during uncomfortable situations. The old me still passively wishes the weather could be better, that my boss would be a better boss, that my dream job would fall from the sky into my lap, that my co-workers could be more understanding and more fun to be with, and that my friend would stop complaining and start appreciating all the nice things around her. None of these external people/issues are under my control, yet the strong desire to want to control the uncontrollable makes me (and my friend) unhappy. I need to instead work towards mastering actions that I could take to improve my situations and my well being.  The rest of the world may or may not change due to my actions, but at least I will feel better if I have done my best to serve myself.


  1. >> It made me think why I am so upset about this

    Excellent. Self-awareness is key.

    >> ..I am noticing these samskaras (habitual patterns) in my every day life...

    Do you also notice the equanimity you seek is also there?

    I encourage you to slowly think back. Remember the time when you felt the right balance, the calm, the contentment, the ease in dealing with situations.

    You see, this attribute is there within you also.

    You'll find whatever you look for. The mind is an amazing pattern matcher. Tell it to look for failings, or tell it to look for successes. Either way, it will find whatever you want.

    Sometimes we can program it so much to look for wrong thing that it takes seriously slowing down, resting, and focusing on what we really want it to uncover, then it changes programs to the new thing you want it to find.

    The fact that in the past you've had the peace/patience/balance/calm/equanimity you now seek shows that you have it already within you. It's already there. I encourage you to just pause deeply, even quit reading these words, reach within until you can once again feel it, and you'll see it's still there for you to use now.

    Your mind may want to race off to it's entrenched programming habits, that's perfectly normal. Through patient meditation you bring it's focus back in until you can touch again that same equanimity in your mind that you once held.

    I look forward to hearing your positive progress.

    Enjoy yourself,