Chapter 23 ~ Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Obstacles and problems are part of life. True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience and to learn. Perhaps the most basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems are the best places to practice keeping our hearts open.
Certainly, some problems need to be solved. Many others, however, are problems we create for ourselves by struggling to make our life differently than it actually is. Inner peace is accomplished by understanding and accepting the inevitable contradictions of life—the pain and pleasure, success and failure, joy and sorrow, births and deaths. Problems can teach us to be gracious, humble, and patient.
In Buddhist tradition, difficulties are considered to be so important to a life of growth and peace that a Tibetan prayer actually asks for them. It says, “Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled.” It is felt that when life is too easy, there are fewer opportunities for genuine growth.
I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend that you seek out problems. I would, however, suggest that if you spend less time running away from problems and try to rid yourself of them—and more time accepting problems as an inevitable, natural, even important part of life—you will soon discover that life can be more of a dance and less of a battle. This philosophy of acceptance is the root of going with the flow.