“Choose knowledge for the sake of knowledge over achievement. We are in an achievement-oriented society. We judge and value people based on their achievements. But most of the people who get caught up in that trap – always trying to “get ahead” – their reward for that is almost always high blood pressure, ulcers, early deaths and even things like cancer. Remember, it’s a perfect universe. There’s no stress in it. Only people thinking stressful thoughts.”
The Case for Neutrality (and Acceptance)
If you judge (a thing/event/person) to be “good,” then there must naturally be a “bad.” The path to inner peace is one of non-judgment.
How to Cultivate Presence
Bring more present moment awareness into your life. Start with small, every day activities. Instead of indulging in thinking (as you cook, take out the garbage, shower)…be present. Be sensory aware. Feel the energy in your body. Be aware of your surroundings. All it takes is 30 seconds and everyone has 30 seconds.
I used to “meditate” incorrectly. I closed my eyes and focused on being aware of my surroundings and my thoughts. I noticed my thoughts and tried to “let them go.” But my thoughts were either judgments or I was judging my thoughts (!) I assumed I was meditating correctly, because I was quite aware of everything…however, I was placing opinion on all of it.
Being present (meditating) means being aware of everything in the present time without judgment.
If you’re like me, you’d be shocked at how much you judge yourself and others. With practice, you can minimize placing personal value on yourself and others. I catch myself doing it and am able to correct it.
Criticizing is the opposite of kindness and impedes inner peace.
Shrink the Critic
I was eating in a Phoenix cafe at an open window. A very good-looking family of five walked past the window: mother, father, three small children. The father, dressed in expensive athletic wear (his shoes alone must have cost at least $300), stopped and pointed at a man across the street.
He gestured at a homeless man who was walking and muttering to himself. The wife nodded in agreement to whatever her husband said to her and they laughed as they went on their way.
The young father was judging a man who was clearly struggling by society’s standards. Why? Because the father’s ego was projecting a defense mechanism. Somewhere along the way, this man suffered an emotional injury. He hasn’t worked to defuse his pain (and accompanying anger) and is now spewing his garbage onto his family.
According to Mindful.com, the cure for the critic is to sit and examine your judgmental thoughts. Be aware of your thoughts. Take responsibility for them. Get to the heart of the matter. Defuse your pain and focus on gratitude. You’ll be happier and your loved ones will, too.
What “Countdowns” Really Mean
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Eckhart Tolle’s premise that Judging others and ourselves, Attaching (to things) and Resisting reality (JAR) all lead to unhappiness and that if you eradicate these three things, you will be happy.
Counting down to vacation, the weekend, or the end of the work day are examples of moments when we resist reality. These are opportunities to stop and think: we need to stop resisting our reality, our longing to be elsewhere.
I used to have a Countdown app. Long story, but I was in a job with a terrible boss. The job would end in 102 days. When I realized this “secret,”- that counting down was the antithesis of living with joy – I deleted the app and paid attention to my life. I did my best to enjoy every minute of the job, despite this awful boss. And I really began to love it!
Enjoy your present moment. Our lives are made of a chain of present moments, right? One right after another….this makes up a lifetime.
I was eating lunch with someone. She said, “I wonder what we’ll have for dinner.” Don’t do that. Fully enjoy your lunch. Dinner will happen when it happens. “But I have to plan it. I have to think about it beforehand, it doesn’t just happen,” you say. True. But while you eat your lunch, eat your lunch. Enjoy each bite. Being fully present for each bite…realizing when you are full and stopping…this is the best “diet.” When it comes time to plan your dinner, do it. And plan your dinner, but only do that. Be fully present. Be happy.
We were driving to violin lessons today. It’s a 45 minute drive. The car in front of us was crossing the line and coming back. The car in the other lane could not advance because of this. I thought, “Either this driver is drunk, or texting.” We passed the car and I saw the driver looking at his lap, obviously on his phone. How dangerous! We saw several people driving in this manner.
Multi-tasking is not only the enemy of happiness and excellent work, it can also cost lives.
So do not countdown to the next thing. Do not do two things at the same time. Slow down. Relax. Be mindful. This is the secret to happiness.
Less is Truly More
I was driving on the freeway and a man next to me cut me off so closely, I thought he was going to hit me.
My adrenaline raced and I had thoughts that no teacher-of-young-children should ever have. I was angry. What a *$#@&! I cursed him and his family. I wished him ill will in every way. He was a jerk, a self-centered @#&$ and…and then I stopped. I was judging him and the situation. As soon as I stopped judging and taking the incident personally, I felt calm. It was a choice: I could be angry or I could be happy. I chose to be happy.
I’ve been trying to secure a grant. It was turned down a few months ago. A great despair and sadness overcame me. I really wanted it. Badly. And then I realized I was too attached. I was suffering and I needed to let it go. Of course, I can re-apply. I can keep re-applying. But if I do, I need to do my best on the application and LET IT GO. No attachment. I’m fine whether I get it or not.This process is really challenging, but definitely possible.
Finally, I find myself in this situation often: I want to get to my writing/workout/GNO, but I have to (fill in the blank = drive my girls to violin lessons or teach summer school). Because I have my mind on what I want to do and because I can’t do it right then, I am resisting reality. And it’s painful. I feel stressed and resentful when I am not doing what I want to do right when I want to do it. This is resisting reality and the only thing that can come of it is unhappiness and suffering. I’m still working on this!
Thus, JAR: Judging, Attaching and Resisting. Eckhart Tolle says that in order to gain complete freedom (and peace of mind) you need to master these mentalities: non-judgment, non-attachment and non-resistance. Do not judge others OR yourself. Do not attach to your desires. And do not resist the present moment. This is really hard to do in our competitive, judgmental world. But, it can be done. Start by paying attention throughout your day. Are you judging? Are you (needlessly) attached to something or someone? Are you resisting the moment? There is great freedom in letting go.