Not long ago I had a conversation with a friend who said in passing, there are a lot of things I don't particularly like in my life, but overall I love my life. It struck me as contradictory at first until we explored what he meant by it.
On a very simple level, he was able to take the so-called good with the so-called bad. I don't know of anyone who hasn't experienced things in life that were inconvenient, life-altering, challenging or disagreeable. But who said that life was supposed to be only easy, happy events as we sail through our days?
What my friend was saying was that he didn't stop (for long) to say no to the people or events that were seemingly interrupting his well being.
It made me wonder how many times during the day I say "no" to something I don't like. Some days "no" happens automatically as a knee-jerk reaction and I get caught up in the feelings for a while. But more often than not as I settle into a deeper knowing of what's possible, I'm able to let the feelings move through me, as if I were a river and the current was moving those feelings downstream.
Saying no in this context is not about refusing to do something morally or spiritually wrong (or even just consuming something your body can't tolerate). When saying no becomes a limitation is when we dig in our heels because life is presenting us with something that's not what we expected or wanted to see happen.
All spiritual teachers agree that the cause of our suffering is resistance to what is. Whether it's starving children, immigration calamities, climate change, political upheaval, being laid off from our jobs, our partners leaving us, not having enough money in the bank - we insist on resisting the conditions we find ourselves in.
I'm not encouraging you to complacently accept anything that comes our way; rather iI want to point out that we spend enormous amounts of our energy on pushing events away or blaming others or waving our hands wildly and wondering how this could possibly be happening. That energy could be spent much more beneficially if we used it to take a more "empowering" stance.
For instance, the well-known coach Steve Chandler shared this extremely helpful turnaround: "given the circumstances as you've described them, what would you like to create?"
That simple question takes us from victim to contributor. Instead of reacting as though we're victims of circumstances beyond our control, we can take the energy we would have spent resisting and instead, channel it into a productive response that takes into account both our need and others for well being, clarity of mind and doing what we believe in our hearts to be beneficial.
We often lose sight of the fact that the universe is not in our control, and part of our overall suffering is our intense desire to feel we _do_ have control. If only..., we say to ourselves. When I can finally... we are giving away our own agency when we leave our well being to some imagined future. Yet that leaves us in a terrible state where our happiness and peace are dependent on the future. In truth, there is only now and the future never comes.
That's why the restaurant with the sign over the bar that says "free drinks tomorrow" stays in business!
Some people experience terrible circumstances in life and suffer only a little; many people experience relatively challenging circumstances which aren't life threatening but are uncomfortable and throw us out of our comfort zone. If we want to love our lives, there are a few things we can do.
Once we've acknowledged whatever feelings and thoughts arise when we're challenged, we can look within ourselves for a more proactive response. Why this is even possible is because we have enormous resources - unlimited - when we allow ourselves to tap into our own inner knowing, our gut sense, our intuition.
You may have been told you always have to try to figure things out for a solution, but what if it were so much simpler than that? Instead of struggling with your linear, analytical mind, you started with tuning into your heart and coming from love and compassion? We have so much available to us when we drop out of the mental drama into the heart space where we're centered, grounded and it's clear what our next step is.
It's normal that we have preferences, inclinations, and propensities, but they don't have to rule our lives or destroy our well being. Ever notice how some people get terribly upset if what they want to eat is not on the menu? Nothing else is as good as what they could have had.
We don't have to live that way. When we are willing to soften our stance to what we "don't like," and look for a better alternative, amazing things are possible. And when we begin to experience those amazing alternatives, we start to recognize that we don't need to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. We don't need to be paralyzed by our own fears. We actually do have unlimited resources - and those may appear in the form of questions we need to ask or things we know we can do to bring something better into either our personal or our collective existence.
When that happens more and more, we can begin to love our lives because we've become more compassionate, wiser, kinder and even more creative in responding to life with yes instead of no. We find that life actually supports us in moving through whatever circumstances we experience with equanimity and generosity, because the more we give, the more becomes available for us to give.