Tag Archives: openness

Good vs. Bad. Is it really that simple?

I don’t recall anyone ever saying to me, “Dana Shane, life is all about feeling good.”  So where did that expectation come from?

I guess it makes sense. If any one of us were asked in a given moment, “Do you want to experience something that feels good or something that feels bad?” – what would you choose?

Duh. Kind of a no-brainer, right?

But we all know a permanent state of only feeling good is impossible.

With life comes death. With ups come downs. Life cycles. It shifts. It turns. Nature is a living, breathing example of it. Storms happen. Sometimes they wreak havoc. But then the sun comes out again.

And with every loss or downturn, we have the opportunity to realize and appreciate the gains and upturns.

Yet we spend an immense amount of time and energy being unhappy, put out and inconvenienced by those things that don’t feel the way we think they should or how we want them to.

Is it possible that our unrealistic expectation of a constant state of bliss is what really causes us harm and pain? The expectation of perfection rather than the reality of setbacks?

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation. It’s our thoughts about it.
                                                                                                  – Eckhart Tolle

Historically, if things are seemingly going my way, within my expectations and aligned with what I want, I am happy. Smiling. Feeling good. Uplifted. Joyful. Secure.

But if they’re not, I’m sulking. Sad. Disoriented. Stressed. Frustrated. Afraid.

In essence, I’m like a marionette puppet. My strings being controlled by the circumstances of life.

Which has the potential to leave me in a constant state of hoping for things to go “right”, and in fear of things going “wrong”.

Everything that falls between birth (which we deem as happy) and death (which we define as sad) gets categorized as good and bad. I like this, so I feel good. I don’t like that, so this is bad.

Every thought we have determines whether we feel like we have succeeded or failed. Whether we or someone else is right or wrong. Whether we’re having a good day or a bad one.

Reality never wavers. Our thoughts and opinions about it do.

Wars are fought – in our minds, in our homes, in our world – over individual and collective thoughts about how things should be.

Of course we will feel happiness, sadness, anger, fear – the whole gamut of emotions. It’s part of the human experience. But if we accept our emotions, without attachment to what elicited them, how does that change the experience?

Recently, I was fortunate enough to hear a dharma talk by a Buddhist master and teacher. He shared, “This is that. That is this.”

I took it to mean it’s ALL necessary. It’s ALL there for a reason (or it wouldn’t exist). It’s ALL connected – the good and the bad.

What if everything is FOR us?

If you’re able to ask yourself that question – to consider the possibility – it leaves a crack. A little space for light to shine in. Room for a breath.

This allows us to relax where we would otherwise tighten our grip and tense up. To be with what we normally resist. To let go of the compulsive need to make things different or better. To makes things stop or to go away. To need to change ourselves or others. And to cease berating ourselves for not having all the answers.

This detachment from our thoughts about how things could have been or should be allows energy to move and flow, allows energy to continue or manifest in our lives.

Be open to why whatever is showing up is there for you. Relax into not needing to explain why.

During my adventure races, there were always challenges. That’s why it was called Adventure Racing. It was the whole reason I participated. To push myself. To grow. To learn. To overcome. To thrive. And it was exhilarating!

It would have been a pretty lame sport without the challenges – without the losses, wrong turns and setbacks. The parts that brought me to my knees. Had me questioning whether I could keep going. Forced me to second guess myself.

And so it is in life.

Some experiences you like better than others. Some parts you’re naturally better at. Some things you are more prepared for. For most things, there is no way to be prepared. You will have to face fears in order to keep moving forward. And it’s ALL unknown.

Life is the ultimate Adventure. All of it. The “good” and the “bad.” In the acceptance of that lies peace.

What or who have you decided is good or bad? Can you let go of your attachment? Just for today? Moment by moment? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!