Transcending The Difficulties of Life

Greetings to all and welcome to this ongoing discussion on the subject of happiness!

Last week we challenged ourselves to begin observing the constant mind chatter, which if left unattended, will like a whirlpool, swirl us into a spin of looking, seeking, wanting and desiring something to make “it” or us happy. “If I could only be out of debt, have the perfect partner (or tweak the one I have into perfection) lose weight, be taller, younger, wiser, richer…then I would be happy. Or, maybe if I continue attempting to attain these things…even if I can’t be happy now, maybe I will be happy some time in the future. We also challenged ourselves to let go of even one little attachment daily, to see that we actually can get along without that scoop of ice cream, that dreamy cashmere sweater, the late night phone call to the "it" man of the moment, etc...

The challenge to ourselves is never ending, because what we all really want is to be happy…right now, isn’t it? Do we really want to wait? But what if the aforementioned desires, which we believe we must have in order to be happy, are not attainable in this moment? Is there a way to be happy, anyway?

Scott Peck, in his legendary book, The Road Less Traveled, starts off his brilliant manuscript with following statement: “Life is difficult.” He then proceeds to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on how to transcend the difficulties of life. One suggestion is to “delay gratification,” or to schedule the events of life in such a way that you choose to take on the inevitable unpleasantries first (like cleaning the toilet, or folding the laundry)…saving the more fun stuff for later (like popping corn and watching a movie.)

Today was the first appointment in a continuing series of dental visits, which I have procrastinated and prolonged as long as possible. Fortunately, the dentist is a good friend, who occasionally offers a gentle reminder that “the longer you wait, the more difficult and complicated the situation could be…” I know this…I have read the Road Less Traveled a hundred times…much of it I could recite by heart. Why then do I continue to allow myself the unnecessary suffering that could easily be avoided if I would just schedule the appointment and get it over with? I am human, I suppose. Nonetheless, today was somewhat transformational. I sat in the dentist chair for two hours with apparatuses and contraptions glued to my gums, and glunky stuff gooped all over my mouth. However, rather than focus on the obvious inconveniences, like the shrill sound of the drill, accompanied by what felt like a saw and chisel, I looked at the birds outside the window that were feasting in the feeder. I watched the shadows that the tree leaves made on the ceiling. I listened with amusement to the conversation of my friend and his associate. I remained mute (of course, how in God’s name was I going to talk?)Before I knew it, the appointment was over and I realized that throughout most of it, I had been happy. All it took was a shift in perspective. I know… it isn’t always that easy. Try anyway…you may surprise yourself... and, stay tuned. We will see how well I do for appointment #2…

This week, if you find yourself amidst the unpleasantries of life, instead, concentrate on the beauty that is inevitably around you.

Peace and joy be with you, now and always.