Feeling Like a Fool

You can’t lose. You really can’t. Because you either get the thing you want or you get something that makes you bigger. That’s how your world works. It’s one or the other. So you can have a great time hanging out with your beloved cousin, or you could have that same cousin suffer an injury and nearly die—or maybe they do die. So in one scenario you gain because you enjoy yourself, and in the other scenario you learn what it feels like to lose someone close to you. And so later when you’re around people who are going through a loss similar to that, you’ll be more empathetic and you’ll often know what to do or say just through your experience. The cracks are where the light gets in, so to speak. When everyone else is crippled by their lack of experience you know what to do.

653 Relax and Succeed - An adventure is only an inconvenienceLikewise, if you fail a test you also become more resilient. Maybe you’re more familiar with the pressures surrounding the test, or maybe you’re becoming more resilient to outside judgment. Everyone’s lives are littered with failed tests and no one more-so than the sort of person who wants to achieve a lot. Want to be an astronaut? Then fail a lot. Because you have to be good at a lot of things to be an astronaut and to be good at a lot of things you have to have failed at them first. When my brother was a salesman and he knew that one in ten people was a real buyer, he knew that a non-buyer was someone who had kindly checked off one of his nine empty boxes and he would be grateful for them because he understood they were just as necessary as the one who actually bought. And so my brother always met his next sales prospect with a great attitude and that gave him a much better chance at increasing his odds from one in ten to two in ten and that one small difference made him rich.

Maybe you’re in an exciting, whirlwind romance where you feel like you’re floating twenty feet off the ground. Or maybe you’re bawling your eyes out for the fifth night in a row because you got dumped. Either way you win by enjoying the romance and the back rubs and the cuddles and the cares, or maybe the very absence of those things has raised your awareness of the value of those things and so you are now more likely to place greater value on your future partners. Or maybe you’ll be better at choosing a partner next time. But 653 Relax and Succeed - Pain means you're growinghowever it happens, the loss of a relationship results in a gain in awareness about something useful, usually involving how you could have been a better partner. This is why they say the second spouse gets what the first one paid for. Again, you win no matter what.

In each and every case there will be some form of good fortune for us in every experience. The only question is, do we strictly look at everything for what we expected or do we look at life to see what we’ve actually received? Because in many cases we will get lessons that we did not even know we would need some day and yet in many cases those lessons will prove to be more valuable than the original benefit we sought by undertaking the activity. Certainly all of us know the wonderful level of comfort that gets created by someone who has been where we are and who is comfortable being there with us. That empathetic connection alone is worth a lot.

As the Buddhist’s say, there are no one-sided coins. You either get the benefit you were expecting or a benefit you weren’t expecting, but either way you win so never get too down on life. If it looks like you’re losing just wait a while. Your vision will clear and soon you will happily be on your way as you once again notice the incredible good fortune that every single life enjoys.

Every day is a gift. Treat today like that’s what it is and it’ll treat you pretty well right back. Have a great one!


Exam Anxiety

University took ten years off my life this term I was so stressed. Every exam I was so panicked I’m sure I did worse than I deserve to. I need a way to calm down before I die of a heart attack before I’m 25. How can I use your stuff to not freak out like that?

Panicked Tester

Dear Panicked,

I agree that there is no benefit to the worrying. It does hinder you when you need to have access to all of your faculties and regardless it is entirely ineffectual. There is literally no point to worrying—it does not add to your grades in any way. But you do want your wits about you and for that you need to just do things methodically and either you know or you don’t know.

406 Relax and Succeed - Don't fill your headThis information is all stored in your brain in relational ways. So there’s connections between the idea of thread and needle, and ones between roses and expressions of love. Everything gets tied to anything it relates to within you. So you want to heat up the parts of your brain where the information from that class is. So start by just going through the exam and finding the questions where you are certain that you know the answer easily. That will begin the heating up process. You will be putting electricity through the parts of your brain where this information is stored.

At the end of the exam go back to the beginning and read them again and look for ones you feel confident you can figure out and then go about the process of using your formulas which you should know not by memory, but because they make sense. That way you can recreate the formulas if you ever forget them. Keep doing that back to front process through the exam until you’re at the few remaining tougher questions. And by tougher I mean you remember these less readily than the others. So study the questions very closely. Look for little murmurs in your thoughts—little tugs. Follow those to a path to a memory of something useful. That is the best way to use your brain.

Using your brain to worry is the exact opposite of that. Worry debilitates our cognitive functions, it makes us less creative and energetic and it burns insane amounts of life-energy. We’re far better to quiet those conversations repeatedly until it becomes a natural habit. Because without all of the worry we will have many more resources to apply to the issue.

406 Relax and Succeed - Worrying is using your imaginationPay attention to how you feel during your worrying. Where does it end? And backtrack to the first inkling you have that it’s coming on. Study yourself seriously as a spiritual practice. And learn how you get your ego riled. Learn it and derail that train of thought early in the process by expanding your awareness to actually watch for that shift in temperament.

You basically have total control over how you feel. Do not use your mind unconsciously. Starting today begin to become increasingly aware of what you are thinking. Look at the direction of the thought, the intensity, the path, the meaning. Study yourself. That is what Buddhism is. Not the study of Buddhism—it’s the study of yourself. So do that and you will see that you are spinning your ego in useless circles every time you worry. Better to take that energy and put it into a rejuvenating experience. It’ll be wiser and healthier.

Be kind to yourself. Do not beat yourself up with harsh brain chemistry out of some blind habit. Raise your awareness and take control over your thinking and thereby take control over your daily experience. It’s a fantastic way to live. So stop trying to control the river. Just steer your kayak according to the conditions and all will be well as you go with the flow. No more investing time and energy in worrisome thought. Shift. Yes, you’ll have to shift every minute for the first while. But if you’re earnest you’ll learn quickly. And this is a life-changing skill. After that the process is simple. Shift your thought-energy away from creating fearful narratives about failure and invest that same brainpower on solving the actual problem. It really is that easy.

Learn to change your mind. Use it in your favour. That is all.

peace. s