“Idleness causes fatigue.”
“Idleness causes fatigue.”
“There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
“The more aware I can be of fear-based feelings when they arise and the more I consciously make an effort to always be dismissing them, the more my world gains color and depth. I don’t feel like I need a lot of things anymore, what’s around me is pretty amazing by itself and I can be quite happy with it. The best thing I can do to improve my life is to avoid immersing myself in mental projection of possible futures.”
“Desire is in fact a form of suffering, it makes you feel disturbed that you don’t have something, and it makes you believe you can’t let yourself be happy until you have that something. Maybe it’s time to decide that you will let yourself be happy no matter what happens in the external world. Be mindful of this in your daily life and bit by bit the suppressed natural happiness will emerge from within you.”
“When everything’s an experiment, you shed the fear that comes with trying new things.”
“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.”
Unfortunately, we’re likely to forget the wisdom on offer here within hours. We’ll be back to losing perspective – and overlooking the sunlight and the charm of the breeze. These are the sort of ungrateful minds we all have – which is why we continuously need the resources of art to renew our connection with the unbearable but deeply necessary truths.
Life has its ups and downs, and sometimes we may be down for a while. Maybe the day job pays too little, maybe you’re only doing boring stuff, or that special person started dating someone else, or you dropped your cellphone and it’s broken now… Anyway, lots of things can happen and make us feel bad.
A couple of years ago, in one of these “down moments”, I read one of the most important books of my life: Men’s Search for Meaning. Written by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist that survived the Holocaust, the book describes the daily life in a concentration camp: pain, suffering, hunger, anger, humiliation, and despair… but also the attitude of some victims: they avoided feeling anger or resentment towards their captors, they didn’t drown in self-pity, and they did the best they could to find meaning in that experience.
One day, while reading a passage about how some people in the camp lost their toes to frostbite because they had to work in the winter without shoes (just to come back to a hut and eat soup that was barely enough to survive), I remembered that earlier I complained to my girlfriend about how bored I was with my job.
I felt like an entitled son of a bitch.
Here I was: healthy, young, working at home, with good food, books, entertainment… complaining that things were “boring”.
That, my friends, is lack of perspective.
That struck me hard, but as with any other story, the impression fades away, and I quickly started whining again. With time, though, I found a good way to keep my perspective: gratitude practice.
Gratitude practice consists in keeping a journal where you write down at least 3 things that you’re grateful for on that day. Here are some of my favorite topics:
You have to let yourself feel it. It only works if you allow yourself the time and space to feel the gratitude. Don’t make this just another item on your todo list. Take some time. Smile.
Bad things will happen, that’s life: dear people may die, you may get sick, you may lose your job… Shit happens. What we can do is to control how we react to those events: we can choose to be grateful for what we have, we can keep perspective.
We don’t need near-death experiences to start giving value to the right things – but only if we stop, breathe, and start paying attention to every good aspect of our lives.
This daily practice can change your experience, your choices, your mood.