Here’s the deal: no matter how you live it life will absolutely have the duality of Yin and Yang. Just as every coin has two sides, hot weather means there is cold weather, light means there is dark, and if there are things we enjoy then there are things we won’t enjoy. This is the nature of existence.
The universe represents everything, and you are playing out an aspect of that infiniteness. That role will certainly take you into both sides of existence. So can you see that it’s possible to take what’s happening to you less personally? Can you see that you’re more an actor on the universe’s stage? That these aren’t your problems, they are aspects of the universe’s script and you’re merely the one playing that scene out? You simply shouldn’t take your identity or beliefs very seriously.
You think this is a complex, deep, foreign idea but it’s not. You do it all the time. Whether you choose to attempt to remember them or not, everyone dreams because that’s how your brain builds the ideas it uses to navigate the world. If you didn’t dream you ultimately wouldn’t learn anything because you couldn’t stitch it into the other things you know. In your dreams you are totally okay with being disappointed, or scared, or hurt because you wake up and write the feelings off as a dream. Well why don’t you do that with the same feelings when you’re awake? You’ve already proven to yourself that you can.
The difference will be that you believe you were just dreaming, whereas you call the other experiences you have: reality. But the border between those two is permeable. That’s why ideas that are too far removed from your belief system simply get called crazy. These are other people’s reality-dreams that are too far removed from your own. For instance, there were many people who looked at the world and thought it certainly appeared flat so they thought the people who said it was round were crazy. That’s how belief works, whether you’re awake or asleep.
There are two primary ways to navigate moving through this universe. The first is to self-reinforce your own beliefs and rigidly call them reality. From that perspective you will be disappointed or angry or upset by anyone who chooses not to share your beliefs regarding your priorities.
These people are easy to spot—they’re always angry or upset about something. They’ve got hundreds of ways for other people to be wrong, or immoral, or lacking in character. If they’re divorced, rather than their ex’s being good people that they couldn’t make it work with, they’ll be idiots or bitches or jerks or losers. In essence, these people’s rigidness about what constitutes proper behaviour is what keeps them perpetually tense and angry and it’s why they can’t form the sort of strong bonds that real unconditional love creates.
Another way to be is; open and flexible regarding what you feel reality is. Then very little is outside of the boundaries of acceptability to you. If a dog barks and wakes you up, you accept that dogs bark, you accept that not everyone was raised to learn to teach their dog not to bark very early in the morning, and you accept that the event has already happened. With a healthy perspective, the person can then wake up and go about their day under the assumption that something good will happen—and maybe even because they’re up earlier than they planned. They will find that good thing simply because they are looking for it. The duality is always there, it’s simply a matter of which side of the coin you choose to look at.
That other person is angry about the dog. The dog shouldn’t bark. That person should have taught it differently. Therefore the dog is pissing the person off, and the owner is labelled an idiot. Meanwhile the healthy person is up having a tea or coffee, enjoying the day because that’s their mindset.
Without all of those rules and lines in their head, they are free to take in and absorb the magnificence of creation because that is what they are looking to find, just as the angry person was looking for reasons to think the thoughts that will dose them with the chemistry for their addictions: disappointment, frustration and anger. That’s also why the angry person will still be talking or thinking angrily about being woken up by the dog even hours or days later.
Learn from angry people. Watch how much they are puppeted around by events in their lives. If it rains on their camping weekend it rained on them. If someone runs a red light, then they hit them. It’s as though the person who did the hitting was literally waiting for a specific driver to run into. If they have a terrible new boss, then the boss is being a jerk to them rather than just being someone who is impacting everyone as they learn their new job . Their ex’s are all terrible people, and any ex-friend too. And they will have a lot of ex-friends, because with all of those rules and lines about what is acceptable and unacceptable it’s virtually impossible for them not to be let down.
Essentially, an angry person thinks every unmet expectation is a failure of the world’s, whereas a healthy person sees an unmet expectation as a mistake on the part of themselves, the thinker. Had they never used their power of thought to build that expectation then they couldn’t possibly be let down by it not happening.
Angry people are teachers. Far from bothering you, you should watch them intently. Try to understand how they come into so much conflict and anger. Why are they always frustrated and disappointed ? (Except in those cases where things are, by fluke, going exactly the way they want.) Witness the connection between their ugly feelings and their rigid expectations.
Know yourself by knowing them. Because in the end, you’re using the same tool to build your reality, and you’re only marginally better because you by chance got healthier programming. But you’re just as blind to enlightenment as they are, so use their extreme qualities to help you see exactly how they come into such a remarkable amount of conflict both inside and out.
Stop being bothered by angry or sad people. Instead learn from them. As the Dalai Lama has said many times, they are our very best teachers and we should be grateful for the lessons they so painfully deliver to us at such a high cost to themselves.
Now go enjoy your day and do it by choice. 😉
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.