We are all addicted to hope. We hope we will get the job we want. We hope things will work out in our relationships. We hope we will win the lottery. We hope that the misery or doubt we are feeling will go away.
By the law of averages, some of the things we hope for will happen (probably not the lottery, sorry to say), but it won’t be because we hoped for them. In fact, hope is often working against us, because it is so closely tied to fear. We’re afraid we won’t get that job. We’re afraid things won’t get better. We expend so much emotional energy around hope/fear, when it does absolutely no good. Meanwhile – while we’re so focused on those things we hope/fear – we miss the beautiful sunset. In other words, there is so much to feel good about in the present moment, but we miss it because we are focused on our hopes and fears about the future.
What if, instead of hoping, we let go? Every time we catch ourselves consumed by hope/fear, we can remember that it is a waste of energy. What will happen will happen, and no amount of hope, worry and fear is going to change that. By bringing ourselves back to the present moment, we can watch our children play, observe the play of light through the trees or enjoy a cup of coffee – all things more worthwhile than preoccupation with the future.
Another preoccupation of ours is avoiding hurt. We cannot tolerate unpleasantness in any form. When we feel sad or scared, we race toward whatever will make it go away quickly. Sometimes we run to healthy things; sometimes not. But we will do whatever it takes to get out of that painful place.
What if we allowed ourselves to sit with the pain? What if we acknowledge the fact that pain is a part of life, to be embraced and understood? What if we are tender with ourselves, allowing our hearts to be soothed by our own loving kindness? What if we consider that, as we are feeling pain, there are countless others in the world who are feeling the exact same thing? Pain is universal, and if someone you cared about were in pain, you would show tenderness toward him or her. A wonderful exercise, when you are suffering, is to imagine all those around the world who are also suffering, and wish them well. This is simple compassion, and yet it can be very profound. And as you are thinking about others in this way, they are in turn thinking about you. They are wishing you well. They are holding you in their hearts, just as you are holding them in yours. The best part of this exercise is that it helps you to be less connected to your ego and more in tune with your spirit. A wonderful thing!