Looking at Life Problems
How I deal with my complaints
In my daily life, I try to catch myself complaining about anything, such as the weather—whether I am making a comment or just thinking a thought about the weather. By not complaining, I try to avoid putting my mind in a state of unconsciousness that creates negative energy and denial of the present moment. When I am complaining, I am in fact saying: “I cannot accept what is, and I am a victim of the present situation.” Understandably, in the present moment, we all have only three options in any situation that we are complaining about: get away from the situation; change the situation; and accept the situation as it is.
If I want to take any action—whether it is getting away or changing the situation—I try my best to remove any negativity first and foremost.
If it is my decision to take no action, I honestly ask myself if it is fear that stands in my way of taking any action: I tell myself that any action is often better than no action. Staying in the present moment does the mental trick of controlling my thoughts: focusing my mind on the present moment, and looking objectively at the fear that may be holding me back from taking any action, without letting fear get into my subconscious mind to create any negativity.
If, after much deliberation, I still decide to take no action, then I accept it fully and consciously, with no regret and no “should have” or “might have” because the whole episode now belongs to the past and is no longer real for me. It is important for me not to experience any inner conflict, resistance, or negativity in the mental process of deciding to take no action.
How I deal with stress
Stress is inevitable in contemporary living. My wife sometimes complains that I stress her, and my spontaneous reply is: “If I don’t stress you, something or somebody would stress you. Just learn to cope with it!” Yes, everybody has to cope with stress, and not to deal with the stressor.
When I was working on a book, it was easy for me to focus too much on the future and forget about the present. My mind seemed to be preoccupied with getting to the future, that is, finishing a certain chapter or the completion of a book, such that I easily forgot about the present. Then I began to realize that my stress was due to my “being here” but “wanting to be there.” With that realization, I have learned to re-focus more on the present, and less on the future. As a matter of fact, I have stopped creating timelines for my writing. In the writing process, sometimes I don’t like what I have written (what is known as a writer’s bad days) but I try to enjoy the writing process, rather than looking at what I have written and what I don’t like about. By focusing on the present, instead of on the finished product in the future, I have learned to enjoy my writing and the writing process, and I am able to revise what I previously did not like. So, the key is doing something totally focused on the present moment.
Awareness and concentration are important ingredients in mental clarity and relaxation to de-stress the mind.
How I deal with the past
In my life, I have made many mistakes, which have changed my life—maybe for the worse, or maybe not. Who knows? And who cares?
I never let the past take up my attention. I do not let my thinking process create any anger, guilt, pride, regret, resentment, or self-pity. Like everybody else, I do have these negative feelings and emotions, but they do not last long. I believe that if I allow these thoughts of mine to control me, I would look much older than my calendar age, and, worse, create a false sense of self.
To reminisce what was good in the past would intensify a desire to repeat such an experience in the future, and thus creating an insatiable longing that may never be fulfilled. To recall what was unpleasant in the past would generate feelings of remorse and unhappiness. What is the use? I just let bygones be bygones. In my mind, there is no ”what if.”
How I deal with failures
The path of living is strewn with failures, big and small. But they should not become stumbling blocks in life journey. Like everybody else, I have met my failures:
I look upon my failures with positive attributes: a lesson of humility to show my own limitation and inadequacy; a lesson that I may never get what I want in life; a lesson to strengthen my character as a human being; a lesson to learn about perseverance and survival from failures.
If I had succeeded in those endeavors in the past, I would have embarked on a totally different life journey heading toward a totally different direction. Would I really have been better off or worse off? Who knows, and who cares? I never ponder on the “might have” or the “would have” scenarios.
How I look at death
I am now closer to the end rather than the beginning. That is to say, the thought of death has become more and more real with each day passing. I have come to believe that most elderly people have similar experience.
If I could ask but one question about the future, it would be: “How am I going to die?” and not “When am I going to die?”
I wouldn’t want to know about the when. To me, time is not a big factor. My desire to know the “how” is just out of plain curiosity. Anyway, they are just hypothetical questions without any answer.
In life, we all ask many different questions, some of which are practical, some hypothetical, and some without an answer. To many, living is a search for an answer to many of the unanswerable questions in life.
So, stop looking for an answer to every question asked, but continue to ask, and just live if there were no tomorrow.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau