Original Link : https://hackspirit.com/buddhist-teachings/
For years I struggled to find the peace I really wanted.
You know the dream:
– Not overthinking
– No anxiety
– Physically fit
And to live every moment without being distracted by the past or the future.
My lowest ebb was around 6 years ago. I wasn’t achieving any of these things.
I was a guy in my mid-20s who was lifting boxes all day in a warehouse. I had few satisfying relationships – with friends or women – and a monkey mind that just wouldn’t shut itself off.
During that time, I lived with anxiety, insomnia and way too much useless thinking going on in my head.
My life seemed to be going nowhere. I was a ridiculously average guy and deeply unhappy to boot.
And the reason was simple.
Not accepting things for how they were
I was never truly at peace because of one recurring problem: I couldn’t learn to “accept” where I was without wishing it were different.
I used to wish I had a better job, more fulfilling relationships and a sense of calm deep within me.
But avoiding and fighting against what is happening inside me only made it worse.
The simple truth is that that acceptance is really hard to cultivate. Humans are practically wired to not accept ourselves if we’re not living our ideal life, or to accept the moment if it’s not 100% comfortable.
I knew I needed to learn how to accept being “in” the present moment even when I didn’t like the present moment.
Like most people, I just didn’t know how to do it.
Then I discovered Buddhism
I discovered Buddhism 6 years ago and I jumped in to reading as much as I could about this ancient philosophy.
Just to be clear: I’m not a Buddhist. I have no spiritual inclinations at all. I’m just a regular guy who turned his life around by adopting some amazing teachings from eastern philosophy.
And before too long I finally realized the cause of my problems.
You see, according to Buddhist philosophy, the main source of suffering was my attachment to things.
Letting go (or at least easing your grip)
Countless people turn to Eastern philosophy to learn how to let go of the things that are weighing them down, including stress, sources of tension, unhappy relationships, difficult obligations, financial worries, and more.
In many ways, Buddhism is all about letting things go. Letting go helps us break away from negative thoughts and behaviors that do not serve us, as well as loosening the grip on all our attachments.
The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism actually states that “the origin of suffering is attachment.”
Now, what exactly does this mean? And how, practically speaking, do we accomplish non-attachment?
You might be thinking you need to live like a monk, become a hardcore yogi, or possess some deep spiritual inclinations to practice and benefit from non-attachment.
However, we can easily find ways to let things go while remaining in our regular lives.
The first step to letting go is coming to a greater awareness of your attachments. Identify your attachments and think about how they operate in your life. You can then evaluate if you would benefit from shifting your mindset to embrace things in your life in their present forms, even as they change.
Simply put, accepting things the way they are involves a subtle shift in mindset that helps you appreciate the present reality of your life.
What are your attachments?
Here’s a really important exercise for you to do.
Reflect on the ideas and images in your mind to which you are attached. Identify your expectations about how the world should work and how you want you like to look. You can even grab a notebook and pen and write them down.
Your list might look something like this:
– I want to be in a happy relationship.
– I want to do well at work.
– I want to be fit and athletic.
– I want to spend time with my friends and family.
These are pretty common goals and expectations. Now, imagine all the ways in which these goals could go awry—even through no fault of your own.
You might spend years looking for a lifelong partner and find only short-term relationships. Consequently, you will see all your shorter relationships as failures and begin to feel inadequate.
You might be fired from your job and start to question how smart or competent you really are. Or you might despise your chosen career but feel trapped in it because changing careers would challenge your concept of yourself.
You might sustain an injury and have to spend several frustrating months in physical therapy, painstakingly returning to the same level of fitness (or less) as before.
And you will almost certainly lose some of your loved ones to accident or illness.
In all likelihood, you’ve already experienced some degree of suffering relating to the areas described above. These aren’t particularly pleasant topics to consider! Yet it’s important to understand the root of our pain so we can learn how to alleviate it.
In essence, the pain that arises from the above situations is due to excessive attachment.
Attachment to what? To our own self-image, our images of others, and our expectations about life.
For me, this meant stop fretting about my warehouse job (and what I perceived to be a lack of progress in life) and my everyday worries and insecurities. I started appreciating my loving family and the freedom I had to do what I wanted in life.
I decided to let go of ideas and images of how things should be, and more fully enjoy the way things were.
Why Buddhist teachings can benefit anyone
Today, I’m rarely anxious and I’ve never been happier. I’m living my life moment-to-moment while focusing on my short-term and long-term goals – including developing the Hack Spirit blog you’re reading now.
Hack Spirit is now one of the largest media sites on mindfulness and practical psychology for everyday living with over two million monthly readers.
I truly believe that the teachings I learned 6 years ago, and have been blogging about ever since, can be incredibly valuable for anyone.
However, I still get frustrated when information on Buddhism and eastern philosophy is presented in impractical ways. Most of the valuable knowledge is inaccessible for the average person.
And don’t get me started on the “self-help gurus” who butcher these great philosophies with nonsense phrases like “the law of attraction”, “energy” or “vibrations”.
These phrases may sound nice but they don’t work in reality.
Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with basic ideas like stay positive, focus on your goals, ignore self-doubt and criticism, and mind your own thoughts.
But books such as The Secret or Law of Attraction take it too far.
Essentially, the Law of Attraction claims that whatever consumes your thoughts is what you will eventually get in life.
This works because the universe is made up of energy, and all of energy has a frequency. Your thoughts also emit a frequency and like attracts like. Energy can also be turned into matter.
Therefore, the logical result:
Your thoughts create your reality.
The Secret requires that you never doubt yourself. It tells you that when you start to think something negative, there’s a problem with you.
It’s a dangerous way to live life. If you were going for a walk in the jungle and you heard the hiss of a snake in the bushes nearby, would you ignore the feelings of fear that would immediately strike?
I don’t think so.
You would embrace the fear and stand at full alert to save yourself from being bitten by a snake.
The brutal reality of life is that you’ll encounter these metaphorical snakes. You need to have your wits about you.
Delusional positive thinking stops you from seeing warning signs in your life and taking action to overcome them or prevent them.
It’s much more effective to learn practical techniques – which have worked for thousands of years – that teach you how to focus and accept reality for what it is.
Techniques that allow you to relax your body and mind.
And mindful strategies you can use throughout the day to get your mind focused on what’s most beneficial to you.