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Give Me Strife and Suffering (but in manageable doses)

"Life is suffering," said Buddha. His plan? Release your attachments to this world and end your suffering.

I'm not with Buddha on this one. Give me strife and suffering. And once I have grown stronger, tempered, hardened by the strife, give me MORE.

Life is strife, suffering, struggle. Your body and mind are kept alive by a series of violent chemical reactions, your heartbeat, the acid in your stomach, the cells constantly breaking apart and dying as new ones are created, the battle towards homeostatis with different bacteria and cells combating each other, all inside your body.

Your mind - your thoughts - may come into conflict, especially when you're trying to do meaningful things. It's easy to feel the pull of distraction and ease, and to choke up and pause in fear when you look at the mountain you're set to climb. The mind is not in harmony, especially at the beginning. Struggle, strife, conflict, suffering.

I say - give it to me! But not so fast that it will break me. I must be pragmatic. We must be pragmatic. We have our limits. We can expand them over time. It's not brave to go into the gym for the first time and try to lift 400 pounds. It's foolhardy, unrealistic, stupid. Being pragmatic, aware of our limits takes its own sort of courage.

GYPYSs and unrealistic expectations

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[caption id="attachment_396" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Yup, big dreams.[/caption]

This article was shared with me recently, it's an excellent read and provides some good reasoning for why people feel that vague sense of living an unaccomplished life. I'll admit it, I am most definitely a Gypsy. My garden right now it full of flowers of unrealistic expectations. I'd begun to discover this while meditating and watching my emotions daily. In Headspace, there's a section called the discovery series. You begin to focus on watching your emotions throughout the day and when your mind gets distracted and wanders. More specifically you watch the ways in which you wish things were different. You begin to notice the gulf between reality and fantasy.

At first I spotted the fantasties and dismissed them entirely. I was disappointed in myself for being so ridiculous and unrealistic. However, soon enough I realised that those fantasties had some utility. They could potentially shape long term goals. In Pragmatic Thinking and Learning (a book I'd highly recommend), there is a concept called the Pragmatic Investment Plan, where you essentially break down your longer term goals into where you want to be in say 5 years time and that's broken down into where you want to be in a year and what tasks can you do right now. Take a wild guess at where I found the inspiration for where I wanted to be in 5 years time? It's pretty fun breaking down some of your dreams into a potentially attainable setting of SMART goals.

Say you've started to get into drawing and you want others to see and possibly be moved by your work. Right now you still suck but you dream of the day when something you created was in a gallery or an exhibition. Well, you've found your five year SMART goal. You could have year one be to create a blog and regularly publish a new piece of work. The thing right now you could do is grab that drawing book you held off buying. If nothing else, it's a start. A few months down the line you might realise you're not that into drawing or you're totally into it. Either way to get to that point and either fulfill or dismiss the fantasy it starts with trying it on.

Sure, we all fantasise about about the craziest things and it's sometimes even embarrassing, but there's real insight there. Sit down with these fantasies and break them down into attainable chunks, then act on those chunks. You'll get a hell of a lot farther than just sitting there wishing things were different.

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