While pain might be inevitable,
the suffering that comes from the pain is not.
Suffering is not a state of life, it is a state of mind.
Suffering is your response to an event.
Whether you suffer or not depends
entirely on your reaction to that situation.~Paramahamsa Nithyananda (Swamiji)
Today, I will get (more) personal.
I’ve debated about whether or not to share this information in a post. It was a quiet battle between keeping my personal life somewhat private, and the intense desire to share the lessons from this important chapter of my life. In sharing, I’ve surrendered to my fear of being judged negatively by you – readers of Think Simple Now.
My husband Jeremy was married once before. During the early stages of our romantic courtship, he was simultaneously battling the lingering ends of an unsettling divorce (things got ugly and someday I hope to share the details of this tale with you – perhaps in a book). Suffice it to say, it felt like it was never going to end.
For about six months, my inner stillness was disturbed and stirred up by the negative feelings revolving around this event. My “pain body” came crawling out in full, front-and-center view, and stayed with me while causing unnecessary suffering.
Even when his divorce was finally over, I didn’t feel much better. The feelings of resentment and hate (however subtly in my subconscious) for his ex-wife remained for another three months after the fact – until two weeks ago to be exact.
This article isn’t about forgiveness or complaining about my own self-inflicted pains, but it is about personal freedom. The kind of freedom from the massive mountain of stories we’ve piled onto ourselves that result in suffering.
Are you experiencing anything that is causing you worry, heartache, resentment or stress? If so, continue to read and allow me to share the story of my new found freedom… and how I got there.
How to complete a full workday by noon? Sounds impossible, right? But on many days, by 12 o’clock, I have completed work that should normally take eight hours. And I don’t wake up at 4 a.m. to achieve this.
Actually, finishing everything by noon isn’t too difficult. If you add up all the time you spend procrastinating, distracted, or tired at work, it would probably make up half of your day. If you eliminated this wasted time, ending your day at noon wouldn’t be hard.
The problem, of course, is in the actual elimination of all that wasted time. A lot of productivity advice looks like simplistic dieting advice (“Eat less!”). Unfortunately cutting that wasted time is the tricky part. However, by making a few simple changes in your approach, you can make it far easier to cut the fat.
Don’t Pay Yourself by The Hour
If you view work as something that starts at 9 and ends at 5, you won’t be able to finish everything by noon. When you evaluate yourself for time spent working, rather than work completed, procrastination is often the result.
Life is mostly made up of routines and patterns. Every day we act them out and they are what make up the bulk of our lives. Many of us live according to a socially acceptable template, within the realm of safety, while living repetitively and dreaming of ways to escape.
I used to revolt against these routines. I saw them as the enemy of adventure and of living a spontaneous life. However, I’ve found that routines can be quite blissful. I’ve realized that every day events and what we would commonly classify as “normal”, is often extraordinary if you just take a closer look.
I’ve discovered that even if you’re not exactly where you’d like to be, that doesn’t mean that life right now can’t be beautiful or enjoyable. And the best part is, you don’t have to do anything to make it beautiful. It already is beautiful.
I consider myself a frugal person and I’ve always thought that it was a good thing. However, I recently discovered that, while frugality is a worthy and useful quality, the root of my own frugality is based on some limiting beliefs that I’ve held.
It all started with the story of a little dell laptop, and the story went something like this… The computer I use every day is a five-year-old Dell laptop. It was originally my work laptop from Amazon.com, until the hardware lease expired, and I was allowed to purchase it for $68.
This little machine has served me well, but due to its nature (ahem – it runs on Windows) – its gradual decline in reliability and performance was noticeable (even after re-installing Windows and doubling the RAM). I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated by the need to reboot my computer at in-opportune moments, and the random crashes and slowness of Photoshop – which I frequently use.
Last week, Jeremy watched as I was hunched over my little laptop, frustrated once again by the slowness of its functions, hinting of the need to reboot. I cursed out loud, not wanting to reboot because I had too many browser tabs open; so I persisted, insisting that I could tough it out. He turned to me, and with a concerned expression, said, “Honey, let’s get you a new Macbook and an external display. I think you’re really gonna love it and you’ll be so much happier and productive.”
I have resisted converting to Apple for about ten years. My excuse was always that I couldn’t stand the keyboard differences. While this was somewhat true, it was also an excuse to stay within my comfort zone and to resist change. That evening, however, I reached a tipping point in my dissatisfaction with PCs, and decided to give Mac a try (while trying to ignore the resistance in my stomach).
So, Jeremy and his friend Dave took me to the Apple Store. Once inside, I immediately felt like a kid in a candy store, drooling over the sleekness of the machines and the beautifully minimalistic store design. We walked into the store with the idea of buying the cheapest laptop + display combo, but when I saw that the current generation of 23″ monitors have a glossy reflective display, I knew that it would distract me more than be a tool of inspiration and productivity.
We had a blissfully fun time in Hawaii, filled with sun, laughter, and relaxation. It was truly an occasion of celebration for love and life. But in life, the opposite extreme also exists within the same time and space continuum.
Shortly after returning from our honeymoon, while still wearing our ear-to-ear smiles, we got news that my grandpa Lozier passed away on the day of our flight home, at the age of 95.
I was deeply saddened by this news and spent the next three weeks in silent mourning. Suddenly, all the problems created by my imagination seemed insignificant and petty, and I began to ponder my own mortality.
I reviewed the previous week, and regretted fighting with my mom in Hawaii. I regretted making her sad and angry with my immature and occasionally lingering teenage ways. I regretted not spending more time with grandma and grandpa Lozier. I regretted not spending more quality time with my parents while in Hawaii. I regretted all the time I spent thinking hateful thoughts about things I had no control over. I wished I could take it all back. I felt sorrow at the realization of lost time, and that I could never get it back again.
This is a record of what I’ve learned over the past few weeks in my pondering of life, death and regret.
Have you ever found yourself in a scenario where you had multiple deadlines, a long list of unfinished tasks, past due bills coming in the mail because you had forgotten to pay them, a rented copy of The Office Season 4 DVD that was due 9 days ago, and family, friends, and bosses asking you to do more? What can we do to gain back control of these chaotic and stressful situations?
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly busier. Things are moving at a faster pace and we are forced to move right along with it. More is required out of the average person than ever before. The benefit of our advancing society is that we are able to reap abundantly more than our grandparents would’ve ever imagined was possible. The downside is that we are often overwhelmed by the number of things that we are responsible for and that are required of us.
Sometimes the feeling of being overwhelmed doesn’t come from the actual tasks and responsibilities we have but from the mental clutter that occupies our minds. For example, if you are at work and you start to mentally run through all of the things that need to get done once you leave the office; you need to get on the phone to reschedule a dentist appointment, pick up your kids from daycare, pay the electric bill, and then take your car to the auto shop, then you’ve already added to the pressure of those events by running them over and over in your head.
Another example would be a person who is nervous about giving a 15 minute presentation. The hours and hours spent anticipating and worrying for days beforehand adds to the stress level, which may inevitably cause the feeling of being overwhelmed.
So, how are we supposed to handle these overpowering situations? I believe that we start by asking ourselves some very important questions, then answering those questions honestly.
I have not spoken about this publicly, but one of the most extraordinary things that has ever happened to me was meeting an enlightened guru from India, named Paramahamsa Nithyananda, we call him Swamiji (Pronounced “Swan-me-jee”). The clarity I gained through meeting and learning from him was responsible for many of the lessons and simplicities behind Think Simple Now.
He is currently in the US, and as I was writing personal emails to close friends encouraging them to check him out, I felt that I would be doing my readers a great disservice, if I did not share him with you.
The happiest period of time in my life occurred during a six month stretch, roughly two years ago. I lovingly refer to this time as my “spiritual awakening” period. Several things contributed towards my falling into and staying in this state of bliss:
While “How to Get Over a Breakup” was the number one requested article topic I’ve written on, it’s not surprising that a close second is the topic of How to Find True Love. Here’s an email from one reader:
“I’ve realized that one of my main goals is to find a worthwhile and long term relationship. I noticed you have entries on how to keep a relationship and on how to end a relationship so would you consider writing an entry on what you perceive to be the best way to find a worthwhile relationship. How to avoid making the same mistakes, overcoming fears, keeping up motivation after failure etc.”
– Gary (Dublin, Ireland)
Regardless of our culture, our level of education or economic status, at the depth of all of us are the same desires- to love, to be loved, and to be happy.
Of course we could add other desires to this list, like money and wealth and fancy things, but when you drill into these things, the reason for wanting them is so that we can appear more desirable, and will hopefully be loved and accepted.
If love is something so fundamentally important to us, then why is it that we have so many issues and misunderstandings in the area of finding it? I think the answer is simple, that most of us have never been educated in this fundamental area of our development. Chances are, you didn’t grow up with parents who were relationship experts, and we certainly didn’t study relationships in our high school curriculums. For most of us, it’s been an adventure in trial and error and learning through pain and heart-break. But is there an easier way?
In light of Valentine’s Day approaching this week, I am going to touch on one of my favorite topics of all time: finding love.
Over the past few days, I’ve attended a few social gatherings at which my interactions with other people provided me with a few new revelations. During these interactions I started to notice a peculiar social pattern; that a significant percentage of people are not that good at being social.
After one particular dinner engagement with my partner and another couple, I went home feeling completely uninspired and insignificant. Even after having spent 2 hours with this couple, I am fairly certain they still don’t know anything about me aside from the obvious surface details; my name is Tina, I am Asian and I live in Seattle. They have no idea what I do for a living, what my expertise is, how I spend my time, or where I am from. They were either completely uninterested in me, or they just have underdeveloped social skills.
Later, when I was analyzing the dinner engagement situation, I started to realize why I avoid spending time with certain people in my life, even some friends whom I like and respect. The answer is – they focus too much on themselves, and show a lack of interest in me.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? If someone doesn’t show any interest in you, why would you want to spend any of your precious time with them? I’m sure there are countless other things you would rather be doing.
I have a friend whom, despite her many outstanding qualities, will derail a social gathering by talking about herself the entire night without directing a single question to anyone else around the table. She dominates the table’s conversation by constantly initiating topics that revolve back to the theme of how brilliant she is. It actually is true, she really is brilliant. However, this gets annoying really quickly and obviously makes the others around the table very uncomfortable. It also has the net result of her getting left off of future engagement invites.
The interesting lesson here is that by observing how the behavior of others make us feel, we can tweak and improve our own social skill set. In this way, we can ensure that people leave their interactions with us feeling great, and looking forward to the next time we connect. Just imagine if all meetings ended like this, wouldn’t they also be more enjoyable for us?
Falling passionately in love with someone is one of the most exhilarating feelings, as if you had wings and you are flying high in the sky, feeling the wind romantically blowing through your hair. And usually, when love ends, it feels as if you’ve been dropped like a rock in mid-air. You scramble to grab a hold of something … anything, as you witness your body falling at great speeds, and then shattering on the earth below.
Whether we’re talking about breakups, or facing the reality of a one-sided romance, it is painful. So much so that it disrupts our normal flow of experiences, causing us to not function normally.
With so much emotion invested and our identities tied in with these experiences, it’s no wonder that this is the number one topic requested by readers. Over the past year, I have regularly received email from readers sharing their own takes on painful breakups; tales of guilt, of fear, of regret, and of resentment. Although the stories were different, the underlying message was universal and one in the same, “I am in so much pain from not being with this person – what can I do?”
Sometimes, the pain of lost love is so intense that it can shake our beliefs about romance and relationships. When these emotional bruises are not understood and have not healed properly, they become invisible baggage that drag with us into the next relationship. This article focuses on the healing process from “love lost”.