Life is suffering. At least, that’s what they teach us in Buddhism. Although we can’t be certain that this phrase originated from the Buddha himself, we can be certain that it has some truth and therefore serious implications.
The fields of Physics and Statistics have what is called the theory of entropy. In a nutshell, this theory states that life gets more unpredictable and more complicated over time. Meaning, through time, life tends to get more chaotic. So, it stands to reason that the longer we live, the more suffering we will have to endure.
That being said, the theory of the entropy doesn’t address a critical component in the reality of existence--the observer of the unpredictability or chaos. In other words, it leaves out the second phase of the living experience. There is the event-- or what you might call what happens in life-- and then there is the interpretation of the event by the observer. You can even go further and say there is a third phase: a phase in which events transpire based on the interpretation of the initial event. However, let’s focus on just the observers’ interpretation of events because one could argue that this is where suffering occurs.
As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, there is no such thing in life as good or bad. After all, without someone to observe the events of life, things would just be random and inconsequential. But because we are here to witness our life, we have the luxury to choose how we want to interpret it. Once you see this, you realize your life is ultimately contingent upon a series of endless decisions. How do I want to see this tragedy? Why is this happening to me? Why did so and so do such and such?
Each event gives us an opportunity to respond or react. Each time “bad” things happen to us we have a choice: will I be accountable for my own life or will I blame others or external circumstances? To me the answer is clear. Knowing that how you interpret life is what dictates how you experience life, then why would you ever choose to blame things outside of your control? Why would you ever give up the right (or the privilege of life) to choose how you will navigate through your existence and interpret the events that happen to you?
The truth is, when we blame other people for our problems we lose control of our lives. If someone else is to blame for your problems then do you really have any say in their resolution? If it’s not your fault that life has been hard on you then who has the power to make it better?
Can you see the fatal flaw here?
No one has control over your life. No one can make you feel a certain way or act a certain way. Instead, we must choose over and over again to take control of our minds, our bodies and our lives. We must own our failures and more importantly, our successes. When you are in control of every interpretation you make, it’s like taking the wheel and driving the bus of life for the first time. You can now go where you want to go and see what you want to see.
Every time you are accountable for your life you build resilience. You see that you can endure life’s challenges and that you can change the things you don’t want in your life. You see that you have the power to be the author of your life, not just a character—if you don’t like the story, then change it.
Now, I am not suggesting that life will be without challenges when you are accountable for your circumstances, there will inevitably be ups and downs. Nor am I suggesting that if you want to change something in your life it will be easy. What I am suggesting is that with mindfulness, you can transcend your problems. You can see when your mind goes into default mode and begins to blames others and choose a different path—and that is the path of understanding and ownership.
Through a mindfulness practice, try and notice where you are still unconsciously blaming someone or something in your life. When you meditate, try and see the narratives your mind has created to place blame away from you and on to others. Once you see how the mind is telling you stories you can then own the stories. Because as we know, we are not our thoughts and despite what people have told you your whole life, you can choose the thoughts you want to believe.
Unfortunately, we cannot choose to be accountable or to think better thoughts if we aren’t mindful of the thoughts that persist in our minds today. You don’t know what you don’t know and you can’t fix what you don’t know, so mindfulness is particularly critical in living a happier more fulfilling life.
Give it a try! See what happens in your life when you own your circumstances. Stop wasting valuable time and energy blaming things you can’t control. Stop allowing someone else to dictated your life and take ownership of your wins and your losses. I suspect that if you do, you will have a more purposeful and rewarding reality.
Thank you as always, for taking the time to read our blog. Let us know is you have played the blame game in your life. How did it impact you? What did you do to take back control of your circumstances and how did your life change when you did?
Until next time, many many blessings!