Are you familiar with the Seneca quote about training our minds to desire what situations demand? I’m afraid I need translation here again. Can’t seem to wrap my brain around this one.
Imagine that I was an angel that watched over your every step. You are absolutely certain that I know every detail about your past and your future.
Then imagine that when you were very young, I have explained to you that you were in for a wonderful life experience. I would explain that your route is crazy and bent and seemingly chaotic, but I would assure you that as lost or nutty as it might seem at times—you truly were on your way to great things.
Can you see how you would see difficult things differently? All of your difficult days would be framed by the idea of a great life. Because you’d be watching for a great life to show up, you’d create one.
The difference between the two lives might seem abstract, but there is salvation hiding in that subtle distinction.
Rather than facing a challenge and seeing it as a failure or a signal that we are on the wrong path, we simply see it as a phase in our journey. But the only reason we would do that would be because we had been forewarned that our would be good.
We were told it would be filled with ups and downs, so we see the downs as a part of life being good. We’re focused on how our life will be overall, not at any given moment –and on average we’ve been told in a way that made us certain that it was true, that we were, on average, going to have a good life.
How this all translates is that the people who were expecting a just a great life are constantly disappointed when real life brings challenges and delivers lessons. When they face those hills they start criticizing themselves of those around them.
For someone who’s been told that life will be grand, but that it’s greatness will include ups and downs, then the downs can be contextualized as merely an aspect of our journey upward. It’s the same life with a different story. And our stories make or break our lives. This is the lesson of the book and film, Life of Pi.
A while back I wrote a blog where I referenced a big business magnate from the turn of the century. (Optimism vs Pessimism) He felt the world was always conspiring in his favour, so even when a deal went bad he was happy. In fact, he immediately would shift his money toward what he would presume was an even better deal. And he ended up a billionaire.
Like an airplane, can you see how his attitude took him higher and higher, to greater perspectives that allowed him to see more and react more productively. Other people would have a negative attitude and they’d end up diving at the ground when they struggled, and then they would say they crashed because they’re unlucky, rather than truth, which is that they’re unfortunate because they think they’re unlucky.
Trust me, when you’re on your deathbed you’ll think every step of this was worth it. The trick is to do that before then. Way before then.
Start really getting conscious about your thinking. And if you can’t quiet it, at least re-direct it toward a nice, better story for you to experience. Because that is by far the biggest factor in determining whether or not you have a good or bad day.
Good luck with it. And here’s to a good year.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.