I am realizing that I am focusing on negative things not because I want to, heck, some of them are really unknowns or illusionary feelings. When I fished around for positive things, I have many. I have some good friends, a job, a warm house, and I was recently able to help someone out of a horrible living situation. Yet, these positive thoughts do not hold my attention. My mind loops back to silly unresolvable items in the past.
I have some plans for creating a wider variety of positive things to engage with and thus occupy my mind. This though, upon closer inspection, seems just as illusionary. Their is not positive and negative but a given state of awareness.
In recognition of that, I am reading the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness. As a I read the book, I will post a few quotes or thoughts.
- Whatever one's line of work, we are all just working to take care of ourselves
- If there is injustice, then I think inaction is the wrong response. Th Buddhist texts mention what is called 'misplaced tolerance' or 'misplaced forbearance...[the action taken] depends on the situation." (page 20)
One of the things that struck me was a discussion of impossible situations. How can we feel better and be happy, which he says is the purpose of life, when we are unfairly treated, oppressed and the like? He says we can analyze emotional reactions and choose which one serves us better for the long term. Which emotional reaction can I have now, that will make me the happiest later? While logical, I never thought of it this way.
The Dalia Lama says we can begin this process by realizing that no situation is 100% good or 100% bad. You can also realize that had the situation gone the way you wanted it, there would be other problems that would come of that. You may be better off as defeated than victorious.
That said, one should not confuse contentment with complacency. You can still strive for that victory in other ways. However if that fails, be content with what you have. That contentment diffuses a great deal of frustration.
The author translator points out there is a danger here. We can rationalize things away but that is not true contentment.