Life is a constant stream of happenings. Most are out of our control. We attempt to feel more in control of what is happening by giving it a label. If you listen to the voice within, you will find yourself labeling almost every event. Labels such as good, bad, happy, sad, unfortunate, pitiful etc.. We label what happens and we label our reactions to what happens. We label what others do and our reactions to what others do.
What is interesting to me, as I watch my own labeling process, is that I notice my mood is in constant flux depending on the "flavor" of the labels at that moment. If it is mostly negative, my mood begins to sour. If the "flavor" of my labels is more positive, I begin to feel happier.
So, a step towards a happier me is to have happier labels. Right?
Well, maybe. I'm also very interested in holding onto my authenticity. If I were to label something "good" that I really didn't feel very good about, then I'm not being as authentic as I'd like to be. I would also be buying into the Ferris wheel of life where there is no "up" without a "down." That's OK and that's how most of us live but I want to strive toward more than that....a mindful life, a peaceful life.
And it seems there is much peace when the labels go away completely. Even if they only go away for a few minutes, I find a few minutes of peace. Try it. A moment without labels. See how that feels for you.
While reading one of my books on Buddhism, I came across the Five Remembrances offered by Thich Naht Hahn:
1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
2. I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
I realize that it's hard for any of us to be OK with the list. It's not what we want. We want to stay young, never get sick and certainly not to die. Even though we know that these things are inescapable, we want it to be different. However, I have found it to be very calming to repeat these remembrances to myself from time to time. I think it calms me because it's true and allowing that truth, allows me to quit fighting the reality of life.
If Sanity is accepting reality, then Insanity must be fighting with reality.
We all fight with reality from time to time. Some of us do it all the time. We want a situation to be different. We want our spouse, our child, our boss or our cat to be different. We don't want more people to move to Austin. We don't want our taxes to go up or our home value to go down. We don't want it to rain, get too hot, hail on our car or get dark so early. We want IT to be different.
Yet, the truth is, the happiest (and most sane) people around accept things as they are. That doesn't mean they don't try hard to improve themselves and their circumstances. The happiest people work to change the things that can be changed--their own mind, their habits, their thoughts and their perceptions. They know better than to try and change the reality of the world and the other people in it.
Our unhappiness and angst can be directly tied to wanting life to be different. Spend a few hours allowing it to be what it is and see if you breathe a little easier.
A friend told me about TUT; says you get this personalized note from the Universe. So, I signed up and get them and often find they are quite helpful and even if not personally applicable to me on that day, they may be to one of my clients. So when a really good one comes along, I'll share it here. And if you want your own personalized note go to tut.com and sign up. Here's the one that came today:
... next time you feel really hurt, really angry, or really, really upset, and you're sure that even I have been violated, shaken, and humbled, quick, check and see if the sky is any less blue, the sun any less radiant, the birds have stopped singing, or the flowers have lost their scent.
I'll wager you'll find that life has gone on much as before. Too consumed by the powers of now and the inevitabilities of love, understanding, and eternal life to have even missed a beat.