People who know me are usually surprised to find out that when I was younger, I used to stress out about a lot of things. It's true. I would say that I didn't start to unwind that stress mentality until I was in my mid to late 20's.
I attribute this to many things, many of which I will share as this blog progresses. The point is, along the way, I started collecting (and using) tools to put in my "psychological toolbox." I sometimes call this my "spiritual toolbox" because the things that allow for the maturation of the adult personality correspond highly to those things that allow for the evolution of the soul. If those words don't work for you and/or rub you the wrong way, don't get caught up on it. Choose whatever words make sense to you.
In examining all of the tools in the toolbox, "not wanting things to be other than they are" is definitely a power tool. It is immensely powerful and effective, but it can also be used in an incorrect way.
"Not wanting things to be other than they are" does NOT mean "accepting your lot." It does NOT mean "this is what God/fate/etc has in store for you so you should just sit there and take it."
If you are in an unfulfilling job, or in a bad/abusive relationship, or experiencing a serious medical condition, or whatever, by all means, do what you can do to change it!! Summon and apply your will. That is part of what it means to be human.
What about in the meantime? If I have an unsatisfactory job, and I am actively trying to change it, should I moan and lament every day until it finally changes? How much of my life would I waste, waiting for the exact life conditions to match up to my demands and expectations, before I allow myself to be happy?
What if you can't work out, or run, as much or as intensely as you would like? Are you going to choose unhappiness until you can?
What if you could just find happiness and contentment right now? Could you hold that mental space and still look for a job? Could you hold that mental space while not working out or running? Do you see how it can be as easy as making a choice, in the moment?
"Not wanting things to be other than they are" is the negatively expressed way of describing the Buddhist idea that suffering is a result of wanting things to be other than they are.
Do you see the nuance? It doesn't mean you have to force yourself to be happy with unpleasant things. It means don't add to the unpleasant experience by piling on your own negative cogitation. Pain is a part of life. Suffering is mostly self-created. It is primarily a product of our thinking; the constant rumination of negative thoughts, driven by our desire for things to be other than they are, right now.
Sometimes, when I bring this idea up to people, I receive a lot of resistance. They push back, saying "Well, I WANT to be angry, or afraid, or anxious, or whatever. Those are human feelings, and I think we should allow ourselves to experience them. I don't think we are suppose to be happy all of the time."
I agree! The point is, to CHOOSE it. If you CHOOSE to be angry, or sad, or fearful, or anxious, you are expressing what you are entitled to. As I said before, summon and apply your will. That is part of what it means to be human.
But understand that if you choose it, you are also the one responsible for how you feel. You loose the right to blame it on others, or on external circumstances.
I hope that point makes sense. You don't have to be happy in every moment. I am encouraging you, instead, to be conscious and make choices in every moment. Be in charge of your thoughts, don't let your thoughts be in charge of you. Of course, of course...it's going to happen. Probably over and over and over. But the better you get at noticing it, stopping it, and applying your own volition to how you want to be, the less often your neurotic thoughts will drag you through the mud.
It is interesting to me that there is still another, deeper, level of resistance that I run across from time to time. Some people will bring up extreme examples: cases of living in a war zone, cases of living with famine, cases of experiences of extreme violence and trauma.
My first thought is: what is the source of their own resistance that they evoke extreme examples, that they themselves have probably never experienced? (And probably never will experience.) It seems like a mental/emotional parry. A way of sidestepping the difficult business of doing internal work.
And by the way, I imagine that we all do this, in one way or another. When you feel the inner resistance rushing out of you, you will know that you have another opportunity; an opportunity to ask "What is the source of my resistance?" To me, there are constant opportunities to find out what makes us tick. (Another one I like to use is any time I find myself judging someone's behavior, I turn it around and ask myself "When do I behave like that?" Not only does it allow me to have more empathy for the other person, but it gives me the opportunity to modify my own behavior in the future.)
This is all a journey. I am certainly not a master; only a student. I don't write as a teacher, from a position of superiority. I write only as a peer, who is sharing their experience. We all have things to share with each other!
Next medical update coming soon. Until then, try watching those thoughts swirling around in your head, and choose the mental inner space that you want! :)