One of my most favorite quotes:
Comparison is the thief of joy. – Theodore Roosevelt
Two of my own specific examples of how I get caught in this particular comparison trap are with those who garden and those who have a work-out/exercise regiment of some kind.
I find that gardens and physically fit people abound here in Missoula. I sometimes find myself thinking: Man, I should be more into gardening or: Man, I should get a gym membership – and, ya know, go, or whatever.
But I don’t. I don’t do either one. And I can make myself feel bad about it. Until I remember, once again, that I’m very content and happy with everything I prioritize my time with – that there’s only so much time in the day and I make conscious choices about how I spend that time, and it all suits me just fine.
I’ve been thinking about the notions of praise and blame lately. Mainly about how common it is to fall prey to them and how empty they are of value and meaning. The other day, when I was on an airplane coming home, one of things I wrote down in my journal was:
As long as we’re looking for something outside of our own inner landscape to complete, validate, or otherwise be the maker of our sorrow and/or happiness, we will continue to suffer. And suffer we will – for the rest of our days.
What praise and blame have in common is that they help perpetuate the illusion that other people’s actions and words are what determine our quality of life. We are often dependent on others to both build up and maintain our self-worth and value and take the fall for any amount of discomfort or discontent we experience. We are continually putting our state of mental and emotional well-being in the hands of those around us.
I’ve been thinking about what this, my next blog post, would be about for the last few days but have had a hard time landing on just one idea to write about, as a few different practice-related topics have been bubbling around for me, as of late. So, I thought I’d just include a list of the topics along with a brief synopsis of each one, in an effort to get my creative juices flowing a bit. Please note: these scatterings of thought may not make a whole lot of sense just yet.
- There is a great importance to develop our relationship with solitude, stillness, and silence if we have a desire to get in touch with ourselves on a deeper level – which is not possible in the fray of everyday life. We need to cultivate a connection to the art of being in and of the world – not getting solely fixated on our doing nature, becoming distracted and dispersed.
- How do we best support loved ones going through difficult times? While it’s true that deep listening and loving speech go a long ways to help reduce the suffering of others, sometimes additional action is necessary. How do we best hold both of these truths: 1. We cannot support those who are not ready to receive it, despite how good our intentions are or how “right” we may be in our assessment of how their actions/behavior should change in order to benefit their situation. 2. Sometimes a loving intervention or decisive action may be in order, as oftentimes those who are struggling profoundly are unable/unequipped to ask for help. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
- What tools do I feel, as a budding Dharma teacher, are most supportive for people to focus on in regards to getting started (and remaining) on the path of mindfulness, in the context of Thay’s tradition?
- Is the fact that my friendships and priorities are changing simply a natural unfolding, or is there something I’m missing that I should be actively working on to address or otherwise adjust?
- What is the balance between being self-possessed and strong-willed and not overshadowing/offending others? How much responsibility do I take on in regards to the feelings/thoughts/views of others – especially when I judge that others are often threatened by my strengths and what I have to offer and/or are highly sensitive people which tend to take things very personally and are overly dramatic in nature?
- When, if ever, is it appropriate to attempt to correct someone’s falsely held notions about something?
And the inner musings continue…
Ah, life. What a splendid manifestation it is!
I used to be really against delving into the social media realm. It used to be something I felt a bit self-righteous about as well, as in: “I’m better than you because I’m not on Facebook.” It’s a little hard to admit, but it’s true.
But after a recent writer’s conference and having the message of: If you want to be a writer you need to be on social media drilled into me by all of the published authors I saw in different workshops (yes, they ALL spoke to it) I dove head first into the waters of social media. In the span of only one or two days I formed a personal facebook page, a twitter account, pinterest page, and looked into creating my own website. If I had a smartphone I would’ve started an instagram account as well, but I don’t so I didn’t.
I’ve been operating a facebook page for our local sangha (Be Here Now Community) for the past 4 years or so but without a personal page of my own the functions available to me on facebook had been quite limited until recently. So when I opened a personal facebook page it was rather overwhelming figuring out how things worked. And twitter was, and still is, rather a mystery to me. I don’t pretend to understand really what I’m doing on twitter and what I “should” be tweeting about.