So last week I wrote a post explaining what I’ve been up to over the past year and it has been great to share part of my story with you all. This week I’d like to talk what helped me get through some particularly challenging moments.
Oddly enough it was my knowledge of Thai which ended up being a really, really valuable asset in gleaning wisdom from this small book of quotes given to me by a monk at Wat Pa Temple here in Copenhagen.
This book contains quotes from many western great thinkers such as Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, William Shakespeare and many others. It has also has quotes from the Buddha and from Buddhist monks. The one which I have found the most mileage from is this:
If you can’t read Thai, this weird bunch of squiggles is translated as “whether your life is up or down, accept it” and it is from the monk Phra Prasong Paripunno.
I think it is fair to say that objectively speaking, my life was pretty down at the start of 2017, because I was homeless, unemployed, broke and also in a foreign country where I am not hugely familiar with the local language and system here.
But the first step to getting a handle on the situation was to meet it head on and accept it. Yes, my life sucked. But I was humble enough to own up to it, and the strangest thing happened when I was able to be honest with myself and accept my life for what it was. Suddenly my attention shifted away from what I didn’t have, over to what I did have in my life.
I had my health. I had clothes on my back. I had a beautiful daughter. I had time – a lot of time – to read books, listen to podcasts and do what I could to be as productive and positive as possible. I had a laptop – the very same laptop I am writing this blog post on now – and the list goes on and on… The point is that suddenly I had a tremendous amount of gratitude and I was also no longer lamenting about what was missing in my life.
Over time, after reflecting on just this one quote and how incredibly profound it was for me, I was able to lay down the foundation for upcoming wins. Once I had accepted what I had in my life – both good and bad – I was able to use the my resources, initiative and abilities to progress and go forward in rebuilding my life here in Denmark.
Something was different this time round. I was no longer running away from my problems.
The deep irony was that by completely and utterly accepting that I had no control over many things, I suddenly gained control over them in my mind. The worrying went away for just enough time for me to take very small actions to my goals. And over time, those small actions added up.
Something else happened in my approach to my goals which was new for me. I found myself working towards my goals from a place of security, love and self compassion. It was ok for me to sometimes make little or no progress to changing my life. I was the source of this intense pressure in the past, and suddenly I was able to accept my life for what it is and say hey – this, right here, is ok.
Now I’d be lying if I said that there are no longer times where I find myself wishing things could be different, wishing people in my life would act in a different way, wishing that I could be different somehow. But when I am able to catch myself thinking like this, I try to stop it as soon as possible. Honestly I now feel there are much more productive ways to addressing issues in ones life than boundless wishing for things to be different.
I really urge you to try out this very Thai piece of wisdom for yourselves, and I hope that my freefrom way of writing about this made some sort of sense!
Have you ever stumbled across something profound when it is explained in a foreign language and you find yourself forced to approach the advice from a new angle? If so, please write it in the comments! Thanks for reading my blog and I’ll see you next week.