“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo F. Buscaglia
Not an easy time to be a psychotherapist. Most of their clients/patients are probably struggling with heightened stress, financial catastrophe, loneliness or despair. If it wasn’t for several wonderful therapists over the years, I might not have been here to write this. So, I would like to declare for all the world to hear, “Thank goodness for each and every one of them!”
“Sometimes, just the act of venting is helpful. Counseling provides a safe haven for precisely that kind of free-ranging release: You can say things in the therapist's office, with the therapist present, that would be incendiary or hurtful in your living room.” - Laura Wasser
During our regular talk with our therapist, Kat (not Kathleen’s real name), my wife, Most Beautiful One, expressed her frustration with the volatile state of affairs in our country including the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Kat, after reminding us that some amount of grieving was normal and necessary, got right to the point by asking us what tools we could bring to bear to better manage the emotional highs and lows caused by this current political sh*t show. My response was that I had decided to “expect the worse and celebrate anything better than that.”
With my history of depression and anxiety, I’m sure she understood why I might want to protect myself from future angst. However, since I could tell she didn’t see this as a viable long-term strategy, I decided to dig a little deeper, knowing is probably chuckling as she reads this.
“We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday’s burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.” – John Newton
One of the advantages of having had a remarkable mentor in a prolific writer like Daisaku Ikeda for over 50 years is that there is a wealth of written guidance I can readily access to help me stay on track with a healthy attitude. For instance this gem, “The deeper the dark, the closer the dawn. However profound the suffering that envelops you, never forget the inner spark of hope and courage. Never lose the capacity to wait with patient endurance.”
It helps me to acknowledge, that throughout history, there have always been greedy, narcissistic, hypocritical leaders. And being swayed by every outlandish, immoral and frightening tweet and threat I read or hear is highly unproductive. To quote Andrew Berstein, “Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.”
I’m also reminded (yet again) that we humans have a tendency to blame our sufferings and challenges on circumstances and people beyond our control. And while on one level this might be valid, the Buddhist principle of the oneness of life and its environment explains that the root causes of our individual sorrow and joy actually originate from within. This is what is projected onto the screen of our life. Collectively, the quality of our social and political environment is a reflection of people’s inner life condition as well as their ability or inability to get along; therefore, change people…change society.
I’m a lot happier if I concentrate on the only thing I can really control…my own thoughts, words and deeds. I believe this will result in more positive outcomes in the world around me. Either way, I will be able to keep growing!
Thanks for reading and I wish you less stress and more joy.
Next week: Eliud Kipchoge & the Coronavirus