25 June 2015

When I'm Stressed

It's somehow kind of frightening just how much stress in my life is created by my own mind.  Something can happen that really isn't that big of a deal at all, and my mind will seize upon it and turn it into something that will make my life more difficult, that will get me fired from my job, that will cause someone else to be angry with me.  Very rarely, these things actually will happen, but to be honest, most of the time I'm simply creating negative events and thoughts in my own mind, and I'm causing myself stress with my thoughts--the situation itself isn't really causing me to feel anything.

I do know where this tendency of mine comes from.  As a child, there were very few things I could do that didn't get my father angry for some reason or another.  I was always walking on eggshells, always afraid that something would set him off and cause me to feel his anger again.  In my adult years now, my mind is simply trained to see any sort of thing that could create conflict or that could be "wrong" as something that's going to get me into "trouble."  My brain was trained that way.  I do all that I can now to combat this tendency of mine to think this way, but the many years of training were very effective, and I constantly have to battle the feelings that come up rather automatically.

Don't worry--this isn't an attempt to blame a parent for all the ills in my life.  It's simply a straightforward explanation of how I've come to think in certain ways in certain circumstances.  I've had many years to deal with the effects of my early training, and I've come a very long way from where I used to be.  But I still have quite a ways to go until I'm free from the training that happened so long ago.

It's very important to me that I keep this in mind whenever I start to feel stress about something having to do with my job or a relationship.  I have to be careful that I don't allow my fear of being blamed--and then punished--for things that are beyond my control, rob me of my peace of mind from day to day.  Something might have happened at work that doesn't seem right, but sometimes, such things happen.  I can deal with it and make it right without feeling the stress of the fear of being blamed.  I'm very capable, and very good at what I do, so there's no need for me to worry so much.

I write this because my brain kept me up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, focused on something that happened at work yesterday.  And it's something very trivial, but there are some things I'm going to have to explain--and they're fully explainable.  There really is no problem, but my mind has decided to fill me with stressful feelings that keep me awake at night.  It's rather silly and unfortunate, but it is what it is.  As long as I keep in mind that the stress is a result of years on negative training, I can hopefully circumvent it and not allow the situation to make me miserable for a certain amount of time.

Sometimes, it really is important for us to know the source of some negative feelings so that we can deal with them effectively and still live our lives fully.

19 June 2015


Serenity can be seen as a synonym for peace, of course.  But in our lives, each of us defines words for ourselves.  Your idea of what peace is will differ from mine, and my idea of what the word "discombobulate" means will not be the same as your definition.  To me, the word "serenity" indicates a state that many of us try to achieve, while peace is the quality that we pursue while trying to achieve a state of serenity.  The reason that so many people fail to achieve a state of serenity, though, is that so many of us are pursuing peace rather than trying simply to uncover peace.  After all, peace is here within us all along, and our pursuit keeps us too distracted to look inside for the source of peace.

When I arrive at a state of serenity--even if only momentarily--I'm able to look at the world without feeling that there's something I need to be doing to try to fix things.  I feel that it's okay to let the world turn without my assistance, and that I don't need to be judging other people and what they do.  Serenity allows me to relax, which allows me to sink even more deeply into the state, and it allows me to feel that it's fine to simply be, without always having to do things in order to prove that it's okay to be.

The peace that we seek has to do with acceptance.  One of the reasons for which we often tend to reject acceptance is that we've been taught that if there's a problem we need to fix it.  Unfortunately, though, many of the things that we see as problems aren't problems at all, and our lack of peace is simply our unwillingness to accept something that we don't feel should be the way it is.  In my life I've spent many a stressful hour fretting about something that in the end I never changed, and that in the end, I found out was fine just the way it was.  If a friend was about to make a huge mistake and wouldn't listen to my advice, I stressed--and what the friend did turned out to be fine anyway.

My other huge mistake has been stressing about futures that never showed up.  "If this is allowed to go on," I would tell myself, "then these negative things will be happening in my future."  And my lack of serenity that happened because of the chaos that was going on in my own mind turned out to be a waste of time.  Those negative things never happened, so I was spending time far, far away from a state of serenity for absolutely no reason at all.

Accepting things doesn't necessarily mean that we approve of them.  Accepting them as they are at this moment doesn't mean that we can't try to change them.  But accepting them does allow us to have a certain degree of serenity in our lives, and it allows us to let the peace that's already an important part of who we are come to the surface and give us a much healthier perspective on life and living.  Today I want to spend time in a state of serenity, and if I want to do that, I need to allow the peace inside of me to become the peace that influences me more than anything else influences me.  It's in there, and it's waiting patiently to come out and to fill our lives with itself.

03 June 2015

As It Is

There's an awful lot to be said for taking life, for taking the world, "as it is."  One of the greatest sources of our own dissatisfaction and stress and frustration is the fact that the world around us isn't "as we want it"; rather, the world is as it is, and the sooner we learn to accept that fact--and even celebrate it--the sooner we can get on with our lives and really make them something to be enjoyed.

When we buy a car or a house "as is," there's always a certain risk involved, isn't there?  Maybe the seller has had some problem with the engine, and he knows that major work will be necessary in a few months or a year.  Perhaps the seller knows that the water heater of the house has been functioning erratically, or that the furnace is on its last legs, and is hoping to unload the house without having to pay for that sort of repairs.

Life isn't a car or a house.  Life comes to us each moment, on a moment-by-moment basis, and asks us to take it as it is.  It asks us gently--it's only a demand if we receive the request as a demand.  Our lives unfold regularly, always carrying us along with them, yet we somehow never are taught to deal with life regularly, never taught how to live life moment by moment.  Just as with buying a home or a car, though, there are risks inherent in life, and life also asks us to make decisions that could turn out badly for us.  Should we give our heart to that person who may harm it?  Should we move on to a new place or a new career in order to be more fulfilled?  Should we trust ourselves with our decisions and our plans?  Each moment comes filled to the brim with life--should we throw ourselves whole-heartedly at this moment, or should we hold back in order to keep ourselves from being harmed?

One of the biggest obstacles that we have to overcome in taking life as it is, is the fact that we tend not to trust life completely.  However we choose to see life, God, or the Universe, we tend to see ourselves as being very small and insignificant in the vastness of reality--why would things turn out well for me when I'm so tiny that God or life doesn't really care what happens to me?  That's an obstacle, though, that we've allowed to thrive within ourselves and that takes great effort to tear down.

The fact is that life can be trusted.  Millions of people have made their ways through life and have thrived doing so, and they've left behind teachings that can help us do the same thing.  Most of them have made it very clear that trusting life and living--or God and ourselves--is the first thing we need to accomplish in order to live full and healthy lives.  Personally, I've always had huge issues with trust, but as I've read the words of people who led happy lives, I realized that I needed to tear down my mistrust if I were to have any chance at being happy.  And I've learned that the more I trust life, the more life responds with being completely trustworthy.  I haven't become rich or famous, and I'm not able to stop working and travel the world, but I have all that I need and even more--I have shelter and food and a wonderful wife and family and friends and work that's fulfilling and hobbies that I find to be fascinating.

My discontent with life would start with a simple premise: this isn't enough.  This is life as it is, but since I don't have more now, I'm not going to be content or satisfied right here, right now.  That would be simply me being immature and silly.  After all, if I think something should be improved, I can only decide to work now to change it for the future.  It still is the way it is.  When I can accept it, I can know that this moment is perfect, for even the problems in it are there to spur me on to solving them, to challenge myself to make my future days even more positive.  Obstacles are there to teach me how to function in life, how to push myself past my previous limitations.

Do you accept life as is?  Is there something in your life that is so bad that it prevents you from accepting the beauty and wonder of each moment?  If you can remember that the negative parts of life are there to help you to learn and grow, perhaps you'll be able to see the perfection of the current moment, and you'll be able to accept life exactly as it is, right here and right now.  This present moment truly is the only moment when life actually occurs, and if it's pushing you to challenge yourself, then meet that challenge to make your future present moments even more positive, fulfilling, and full of wonder than you ever imagine they could be.