“ … the task … is to be clearly aware of what’s happening without pushing away those aspects of experience that you dislike and clinging to those you do like.” Vidyamala Burch, Living Well with Pain and Illness.
The book from which this quote is taken is directed mostly at people in chronic pain but the advice, of course, has a far wider application.
It’s about acceptance and living skillfully. Acceptance is often thought of as something passive but it is actually a hugely important aid to us in navigating our lives well.
Today probably has both good and bad in it from your point of view. Maybe you have a meeting with someone you don’t like. Accepting the fact of this meeting , assuming you cannot change it, is far better than telling yourself endlessly how much you dislike it (which you already know) and how much you wish it wasn’t happening.
Getting on with preparing for it will do you a lot more good than pushing it away in your head.
On the other hand, imagine that you’re also having lunch today with somebody whom you like. You would regard it as insanity to expect the lunch to go on forever, just because it was a pleasant experience.
So you accept both the good and the bad, understanding that both will pass.
Obvious but forgotten
Everything I’m saying here is, of course, obvious. But like a lot of obvious things in life we tend to forget about it, especially when we get caught up in automatic reactions to things.
When looking at the day ahead I like to try to give as much “air time” in my mind to the pleasant and neutral events of the day as I do to the unpleasant ones. That’s easier said than done, sometimes, and in certain days, the unpleasant and unwanted event dominates.
But usually it’s worth reminding yourself that your day has more in it than the things you don’t like. When you walk through your garden look at the flowers as well as the weeds.
My online course, Easy Mindfulness, can help you learn techniques for taking a step back from your thoughts and for relating well to the reality of your world. My book “Daily Calm – 100 daily reminders to help you build the mindfulness habit” can set you on the right path each day.
Image by Flash Alexander
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