I am reminded again and again about the importance of seeing life as a glass half-full instead of half empty and this past week was no exception. Over the last seven days I’ve especially encountered many different types of challenging life situations, most of them having to do with other people’s journeys and not my own. When we find ourselves caught up in worrying and complaining our collective perspective has been lost. We need only open our eyes, ears, and hearts to those around us to see that we are not only not alone in our daily struggles but we also aren’t looking at the whole picture of life.
This past Monday our local dharma teacher attended our Monday night sangha. We have two sanghas that meet at the same center in the same tradition on different evenings here in town and our local teacher usually sits on Tuesdays so it was a treat to have him join us. During the sharing circle someone asked for feedback in regards to self-love and acceptance and how to go about cultivating that for themselves. Our local dharma teacher then shared about how when we’re working on self-acceptance we’re also working on acceptance of others and vice versa. He said that the best way he knew to start cultivating self-acceptance is to work on accepting others.
I really connected with what he said and it got me thinking more about our view of not only others but also of the world around us. How we look at others is how we look at ourselves. How we look at life’s daily unfolding indicates also how we live our lives. If we have a difficult time accepting and being around most people and are constantly judging, blaming, and getting irritated by others then we cannot possibly have much acceptance for ourselves either. How we interact with the world is a good mirror to how we’re fairing on the inside. If we spend much of our time complaining, looking more towards the negative than the positive, worrying, stressing, and consumed in other types of mental anguish how can we possibly fully enjoy life in any given moment?
Cultivating a mindfulness practice isn’t about changing the course of life’s events it’s about learning how to flow with them as they happen. Most often we are swimming against the current of life futilely fighting as it unfolds. We expend a lot of precious energy trying to make life go the way it’s “supposed” to and the way we planned for it to go. And when things don’t happen that way, which is extremely often, we suffer. A person who practices to make happiness a habit isn’t one who doesn’t experience challenges it’s one who embraces those challenges as part of life.