frame

Life is simply endless troubleshooting.

Life happens for us on a constant basis. We're lucky in this way until we die because it gives us endless opportunities to build our resilience from stretching and growing.

Except most people don't see life in this way at all! They see it as constantly happening TO them and not FOR them. I remember when I viewed my life the same way most of the time, but I can also tell you that it's transformed in big ways since shifting my frame of mind.

And the new frame or mindset I use is this: life is simply endless troubleshooting. No matter the circumstances, life is just choice after choice of "how am I going to fix this or change this or solve this." But most people have this whole other frame of mind that keeps them suffering endlessly. I see it really clearly with my mom pretty much every time I speak to her but I also see it all over the place on social media and listening to people.

People have this constant background narrative of "it shouldn't be like this" or "this shouldn't be happening" and life becomes this constant struggle and inconvenience instead of a series of incidents or opportunities to be solved. Once you notice it, it's hard to turn off. People come from this place of "UGH! IF ONLY this wasn't happening, my life would be going just fine," but the truth is, they'd probably still find something to complain about or be bothered by. Why? Because nothing stays the same ever and the reason for that is because the Universe is constantly growing and expanding outward. Trying to make things stay as they are, either us or another person or a job or something else, is literally fighting the way things are. It's fighting reality.

It's like trying to keep a wave upon the sand [name that tune!]. 

Have you ever tried to keep a wave on the sand? That sounds crazy, right? Think about some other analogy in nature and it's easy to realize how silly it sounds but then we try to make people, places or things or aspects of our lives stay the same when it's just not how things are.

So when cars break down in traffic or mail is delayed or appointments get changed or people die or we get fired or politicians impose bans or men and women harass each other (because they do) or any of the big and small ways that life just shifts and changes, instead of seeing these things as major inconveniences or things that shouldn't be happening, we can just see it as endless troubleshooting. 

Life is just endless things to be solved from moment to moment. It's not personal. You didn't deserve it. It's not happening TO you and it's certainly not wrong or bad. It's just the way things are.

Try using this frame or mindset for one day, ok start with the next five minutes, and see what you see!

Stop Wanting Bad Things to Happen To You

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The wound is where the light enters you.

-Rumi

 

I've been through some tough times. Since you've been reading this blog, you know about the more recent life experiences I've had, at or least the ones I've shared with you.

This isn't where I go into long stories about other things that have happened to me. 

It is, however, where I ask you to reconsider what's happening for you. Consider the experiences you're having are crucial to your development and evolution.

I know it might not feel like that. I know the pain and agony you're experiencing might make you want to run the other way. You may feel so bad, in fact, that you find yourself wishing that bad things like this would stop happening to you.

I'm here to say that you should stop wanting that. Even though I get why you feel that way. I've felt that way many, many times.

During my first breakup, the daily pain was agonizing. I couldn't run or hide from the loss and grief I felt. I got up and went to work every day, sometimes spending the car ride sobbing and arriving early to process with my friend from down the hall. And then the first bell would ring, I'd wipe my eyes and the kids would come in and they never knew the truth at all. They didn't need to, they were 13. I was 24. I look back and applaud the maturity I exhibited, the courage to face the pain and still meet my obligations.

There have been times I wasn't able to do this. There have been times where I left a job or another situation because I wasn't up to the task of bringing strength and courage. I just wanted something easier. And wow, did I learn from those experiences, too.

Something I've gotten from my Buddhist practice, aside from the amazing sassiness of Pema Chodron, is the awareness that the bad things won't stop happening. It's not like I can climb a tree and get away from it all like I could when I was a little kid. I can momentarily, but the respite is short-lived. That's something very real and inescapable about change--it happens in bursts of hard and easy, just like the rain and the sun. The trick to thriving is to keep that in mind as much as possible.

I was reminded of this recently when I went on retreat. I was there and some aspect of my life was challenging and I kept sitting with this thought that here I was on retreat and I should feel blissed out. And then I realized how silly that was. I wasn't on retreat in this beautiful room with incredible food prepared for me to escape my problems. The purpose, if I'm doing the work right, was to dig more deeply into those problems. The beautiful setting and meal prep was to take just enough distractions and responsibility off my plate to be present to what I wanted to needed to address.

If we really want to change something, the first step is to investigate and explore the problem that requires intervention.

But all this can only be possible if we stop wanting bad things to happen to us. If we wake up pissed off every Monday, complaining about the guy who cut us off in traffic or the way our coffee wasn't made correctly, we can spend our whole lives finding things to complain about. If you haven't noticed, they keep happening no matter how much we complain.

What would be possible if we stopped complaining? What would we see if the "bad things" became ways to practice more courage, optimism or patience?

What if we got curious why "bad things" happened to us so frequently and instead redirected our focus on the many, many good things that have happened for us that day or that week or that year?

We can only do that when we stop wanting bad things to happen and embrace them as part of life. We can choose to see that "bad" is the frame we are using and we can either change the frame or change what we take away from the experience.