The Speaking Tree : Look at the bright side

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Look at the bright side

Jun 28, 2011, 12.00am IST [ Bhava Ram]

Has this ever happened to you? Your life seems stressful, your task list is growing, work is dreadful, your relationships are a challenge, and you are angry and dissatisfied. Then you get a wicked cold. As it hits you with its full force, you look back to those terrible times you were experiencing just days earlier and they don’t seem so bad. All you want now is for the cold to go away. Just feeling “normal” would be a blessing – even with all of the frustrations that seemed to overwhelm you.

Singer Joni Mitchell memorialised this shifting mental process in 1970, with the song “Big Yellow Taxi”. She bemoaned the destruction of nature, paradise being paved over for parking lots and the loss of relationship. The essence of her insight was embodied in the verse “don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?”We take blessings for granted, as if they were our birthright, and we fixate on things that aggravate us. We miss out on much of the joy of daily life, unaware that our aggravation is a choice and that it arises from illusion.

“What do you mean,” some might exclaim indignantly, “my overbearing boss is neither my choice nor an illusion.” But our reaction to the situation is our choice. We can choose to loathe our boss, complain to our colleagues, and wallow in self-pity. The result? More stress, unhappiness and lack of vocational fulfilment.

Or we could choose to use the situation for personal advancement. We can seek options, such as entering into dialogue with our boss to find common ground, or find a new job or focus on aspects of work that we find rewarding. Take skilful action.

The world is never what our ego and self-centredness demands that it be. Not everyone will see the greatness we see in ourselves or constantly seek to affirm us.

Our reactions to situations that don’t fit our illusion cause us to suffer. If we were fired from that miserable job we might shift perspectives unconsciously and begin to mourn our loss, suddenly realising how fond we were of our colleagues, how rewarding much of the work was, and we might even recall times when our boss gave us praise. Once again, by choice, we would be suffering. “Don’t it always seem to go….?”

You might be able to review your life and see ways in which your choice of reactions to life has only increased your pain. You might also notice that much of the negative self-talk in our busy minds is based upon reactions to a reality that does not conform to our illusory expectations. It’s even likely that we are not seeing the full reality, but instead viewing it through the constricted prism of our smaller self, or ego…

Make a list of your blessings right now. Friends, freedom, material abundance, mobility, yoga classes, recreational activities, books, spiritual pursuits and more. Everything is a blessing because it is the most profound of blessings just to be here. Just to experience the miracle of being.

With a constant sense of gratitude comes peace, contentment and the unfolding of a whole new world before our eyes…a world in which we live in awe of life. To cultivate gratitude, i invite you to say “thank you” to everyone and everything. For, all too soon, our time shall pass.

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About G...

Evolving and revolving! Douglas Adams & Woody Allen are my soul mates from another era. My quirkiness is an eclectic mix of Jess (New Girl), Dharma and Carrie Bradshaw. Sharing my birthday with Paulo Coelho & Stephen Fry, i'm always reading a book and enjoy having engaging conversations about life and love. I take children, wit and play seriously, very seriously. I'm a renaissance soul who enjoys yoga, vodka with cranberry and doodling. Working in the field of Education and Story-telling, there are only two things i look forward to: Knowing myself and Everything that matters!

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