The Laughing Experiment

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I’ve studied spiritual masters for years now. One (of many) common threads of assertions is that it is our thoughts that make us miserable (in fact, this might be the most basic tenet). Life is life. “Problems” – as we see them – are never ending.

But because most of us see the same things as problems, we don’t see an alternative way to interpret these events.

Your child didn’t get into the college of her choice;

your son accidentally demolishes your garage door with your car;

your husband loses his job;

you get a cancer diagnosis;

and on and on…

It does look impossible to see these as anything but problems. But are they? It’s just life.

Crying, moaning and complaining about them do no good.

Just handle it and, if you can, laugh at the same time.

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was fortunate: early stage I. But while I recovered from the first of six surgeries, my husband lost his job. His boss cried as he let him go, knowing what we were “going through.” Our two daughters were six and eight years old. We worried about money and their emotional states.

It did seem like the beginning of the end.

But it wasn’t.

I’m here, stronger than ever. Wiser. Fearless.

My husband eventually got his current job – the best one he’s ever had.

Everything happens for a reason. The fact that it is happening is proof.

Handle it. Address the situation without anger, without sadness and without stress, if you can.

The distress and depression come from fighting it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Suffering

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photo by Colton Brown

Until I started studying spiritual philosophy, I had a narrow definition of suffering which encompassed mostly physical pain: headaches, cancer, childbirth, broken bones, etc.

But I have realized that suffering is really what we do to ourselves with our (negative) thinking. Anxiety is suffering. Depression is suffering. Guilt and regret are suffering. Worrying is suffering!

In the path to non-suffering, one essential practice (according to the Tao, Buddhists and other spiritual practitioners, such as Eckhart Tolle) is to refrain from resisting reality. For example, if you are planning an outdoor party and it rains as your guests arrive, you do not resist reality (the rain). Instead, you simply move the party indoors and continue your celebration. If you complain and cry out against the rain, will it stop? No. But you pollute the environment for those around you (family and friends) with your resistance.

I propose a concerted effort to watch one’s language in this pursuit: eliminate the words “I wish.”

“I wish it wasn’t so hot in Phoenix!” [forecast: 110°F today]

“I wish my children were better at (fill in the blank)”

“I wish my spouse/co-workers would…”

Wishing for something that is counter to reality is inviting misery, disappointment and anguish.