In the first section of David Richo's book, “When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-less and Resource-full", he talks about four basic truths of existence:
1. We are ultimately alone
2. Things are transitory
3. Life is unpredictable and often unfair
4. Suffering seems to be a universal experience
Looking at these, they make logical sense, right? Now look at the things that irritate or upset us on a regular basis in life. From things as simple as traffic to deeper pain like losing a relationship or someone we love, if we check back with these truths and flow with them rather than fight against them, we could make life easier. There is enough suffering involved in being human, why add fighting against realities of life?!
I am not suggesting that we not experience our true responses to what happens in life. Losing someone is sad. We need to grieve our losses. I'm simply saying: let go of the resistance to the things that are bigger than us, that we cannot control.
Let’s take a second to touch on each of these truths.
1. We are ultimately alone: This is not to say that other people are unimportant. Being connected with other human beings is a necessity (to understand this on a scientific level, refer to A General Theory of Love). At the same time, the most true and fulfilling connection we can have to others and the world around us is through ourselves. If we do not have clarity and a conscious relationship with this conduit to the world, it diminshes our access to the beauty around us. More simply put, the strength of your relationship with yourself is the strength of your experience of, relationship with and access to the world around you. No one and nothing else can achieve this for you.
2. Things are transitory: You have heard the saying that the only constant is change. We all know this yet are upset by someone's feelings changing, by a protocol at work changing or the fact that construction started next door. Relax. It is just change. The brilliant part about it is that we are very adaptive as human beings.
3. Life is unpredictable and often unfair: My wise mother informed me of this truth at a young age. Guess how much I liked that? Right. It's annoying, but why should we waste our time being upset about things beyond our control? Next time you are irritated, check to see if what you are upset about is something you can't change. Then laugh at yourself for being ridiculous.
4. Suffering seems to be a universal experience: Suffering is one of the most powerful ways we learn as human beings. Think about it for one second. If we were always happy, there would be very little motivation for growth or development. Suffering or discomfort gives us the signal that something needs attending: a feeling needs to be processed or action needs to be taken. Suffering shines a light on parts of us that need healing attention. Check out "There's more to life than being happy" if you are interested in some research and another perspective about this.
This is also important to remember when we see other people's suffering. When we see suffering in another human being and we care for them, we want to soothe their pain. Of course. But here's the thing: if we rescue them from it (when or if that is actually possible), we are foreclosing on their opportunity to learn and experience human life. This doesn't mean we have to act like we don't care. It means we need to just be with them, listen, love them. If they need something from us, they will let us know.
*To learn more about this blog and the author, please visit the About section of this website.
*This post based on the section "Fear and the Conditions of Existence" (pp. 11-15).