Problems As Opportunities

By now, I’m sure you all have figured out that life is a series of problems. A collection of things that happen to us in spite of us. So we wander through this life, picking apart everything. Cleverly destroying every potentially positive situation. You get a new job, well it doesn’t pay enough. Or you get time to spend outside, and it rains. Or you are with your friends and the food isn’t up to your standards. The mind is flawless at picking out imperfections, it was designed to. Our ancient ancestors honed this skill in order to not get eaten by a tiger. As any imperfection in their surroundings could have been a threat. Judgement was not only part of their reality, it was a necessity.

Now, with all sarcasm set aside, this is actually a pretty serious topic. The mind gets what it focuses on, as Ryan Holiday puts it in a fantastic book “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph” - “Where the head goes, the body follows. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.” This is all too true. If you choose to  focus on the negative aspects of your life, you not only see them more, but are also more apt to wallow in self pity. This negative focus sets the mind up to expect less. If you expect less, that is exactly what you get.

Now you might be saying, this is nice for you to say. You are sitting in the confines of your nice house and making a decent wage. But me, I need to really work for a living. I need to fight a continuous battle. I need to pay all of my bills. Well, what are bills exactly? They are an opportunity to trade your time for commodities, or services that you cannot provide for yourself. If you don't have the money, to pay the bills, how is that an opportunity? There are two ways to happiness, work more, or desire less. Perhaps you don't have a job to make the money, or qualifications to obtain a decent wage. How is this an opportunity? In the end, the only thing you have control over is your interpretation and judgement of a situation. So either use it as motivation to get qualified, and get the job you desire, or sit around and wallow in self pity.

When you are in an extremely tough situation, I'm talking about starvation, or even death, it is forcing you into accepting the situation you have fully. The only thing you have control over is your internal state. Are you in extreme suffering because of your attachment to how things should be? Or are you able to let go, forgive your assailants, whether those are beings or situations. This choice is entirely in your hands. It can all be tied back to attachment or grasping, to situations that are nothing but transient. There is only one thing that is certain in life and that is death. This is liberating because everything else can be let go of, even the notion of living and dying. It is imminent, just accept that.

So could we not look at working, no matter what it is, as an awesome opportunity? Whatever it is you are doing, you are creating something. If you have no desire at all to be at your job, the least thing you can do, is try to improve someone else’s day. Perhaps send them a smile, or a kind word. After all, any amount of negativity does nothing in this world. Anger and resentment are like acid, they only hurt the container which holds them. When you are ready, which can be anytime, day or night, let these feelings go. There is no one that duped you, no one who intentionally put you into this place. If you think there is, perhaps you should examine your past actions and see if maybe in some way they affected your path to your current place in life.

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” - Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way

Pete WilletteComment