This is a strategy that I have recently adopted into my own life. It’s a subtle reminder that everything – the good and bad, pleasure and pain, approval and disapproval, achievements and mistakes, fame and shame – all come and go. Everything has a beginning and an ending and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Every experience you have ever had is over. Every thought you’ve ever had, started and finished. Every emotion and mood you’ve experienced has been replaced by another. You’ve been happy, sad, jealous, depressed, angry, in love, shamed, proud, and every other conceivable human feeling. Where did they all go? The answer is, no one really knows. All we know is that, eventually, everything disappears into nothingness. Welcoming this truth into your life is the beginning of a liberating adventure.
Our disappointment comes about in essentially two ways. When we’re experiencing pleasure we want it to last forever. It never does. Or, when we’re experiencing pain, we want it to go away now. It usually doesn’t. Unhappiness is the result of struggling against the natural flow of experience.
It’s enormously helpful to experiment with the awareness that life is just one thing after another. One present moment followed by another present moment. When something is happening that we enjoy, know that while it’s wonderful to experience the happiness it brings, it will eventually be replaced by something else, a different type of moment. If that’s okay with you, you’ll feel peace even when the moment changes. And if you’re experiencing some type of pain or displeasure, know that this too shall pass. Keeping this awareness close to your heart is a wonderful way to maintain your perspective, even in the face of adversity. It’s not always easy, but it is usually helpful.