How to make all your problems disappear immediately
What are your most pressing problems in life?
What are you really struggling with? What is causing you a lot of stress, pain, and heartache?
What things do you wish could magically disappear from your life?
See if your perspective changes about them after reading these two stories:
A farmer came to see the Buddha, seeking help for all his problems in life.
He had troubles on the farm — he was constantly fighting either drought or monsoons.
He had conflicts with his wife. He loved her, but she definitely had room for improvement. He loved his children as well, but they weren’t turning out quite the way he wanted.
His back ached constantly and his teeth hurt. Government bureaucrats took too much of his harvest. His house needed repairs but he didn’t have enough money to do them. His mother-in-law nagged at him.
After laying out all his problems, he asked the Buddha how he could help.
“I’m sorry,” said the Buddha, “but I can’t help you.”
“What do you mean? You’re supposed to be a great teacher!” the farmer protested.
The Buddha replied, “It’s like this: All human beings have 83 problems; it’s a fact of life. A few more problems may go away now and then, but soon enough a few more will come. So we’ll always have 83 problems.”
“Then what’s the good of all your teaching?” the farmer blurted indignantly.
The Buddha said, “My teaching can’t help with the 83 problems, but perhaps it can help with the 84th problem.”
“What is the 84th problem?” asked the farmer.
“The 84th problem is that we don’t want to have any problems.”
To add to this, the Chinese have an ancient parable:
A farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. A neighbor says, “That’s bad news.”
The farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who can say?”
The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news?
The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, then is thrown and badly breaks his leg.
“So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor.
“Good news, bad news, who can say?” the farmer replies.
The next week, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared.
Good news. And on and on it goes.
And so it is with us as we interpret and label the events that happen to us as bad news and problems.
Our struggles are real. Life can be tough and painful.
But we make life even harder by viewing our struggles as problems, versus simply realities that exist.
Problems only become problems when we view them as such. Problems don’t exist in circumstances, but only in our mind.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus put it this way:
“We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens.”
Labeling any event or situation as a problem is an argument with reality, which is an argument we can never win.
All stress, anxiety, frustration, and disappointment are caused by arguing with reality — in other words, wanting things to be different than how they actually are.
“My kids should put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.”
“My wife should be more understanding.”
“People should drive faster.”
“Businesses shouldn’t pollute the environment.”
(Hint: Any time we find ourselves saying “should” or “shouldn’t,” we’re probably arguing with reality.)
As Byron Katie puts in in her book Loving What Is,
“…what you think shouldn’t have happened should have happened. It should have happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle…
“We can know that reality is good just as it is, because when we argue with it, we experience tension and frustration. We don’t feel natural or balanced. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.”
Accepting reality as it is, without judging it as a problem, is not resignation, but rather the most empowering thing we can ever do.
Paradoxically, our power to change things is in direct proportion to the extent to which we accept reality just as it is.
Also, accepting reality doesn’t mean that we don’t hold ourselves and others in compassion for our struggles. It’s not a logical, heartless indifference to pain and suffering — but rather a kind-hearted, compassionate embracing of what is. It’s not a detached and apathetic shoulder shrug, but rather a tender and intimate hug.
When we stop viewing our life events and circumstances as problems, all our problems immediately disappear.