Giving Perspective to Our Suffering

Upon reading the Art of Happiness, there have been many points of enlightenment I have been able to take away and apply to my own life. Yesterday, I did not experience a very positive day at work and overall. I found myself ranting about some people who I feel had wronged me, being stuck in situations I can ultimately change, etc. In the moment, I was not so aware of these trivial “sufferings” I allowed to shift the energy of my day until I transitioned perspective. There is an idea in the book, the name of the meditation escapes me now, but it is essentially an exercise to visualize the sufferings of another person. Perhaps this is someone without a home, plagued with a terminal illness, or abused by the society in which they live. The Dali Lama encourages us to visualize and feel the suffering of these people in order to give perspective to your own suffering.

My visualization had specifically been that of a young girl living in a third-world country. She lives in, not a home, but a tent without running water or plumbing, having no access to professional opportunity for herself, or even in the least, sanitary working conditions. This visualization made me feel shamed and ungrateful for the life I live and the woes of this day which had irked me. To make a trade in my suffering for hers, would I yearn for what I deem my current “suffering?!” Of course. In fact, this young girl probably wishes she had the problems I had. I live in a safe community and sanitary conditions, in the least. I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, an education and job to allow me to be finically well and able.

Ultimately, I found this practice to be beneficial today, specifically, to begin a new day on a more positive and reflective note. Where is that girl right now, I wonder? Is she sitting comfortably at a desk job, writing a blog post she has time to peacefully write, garbed in clean and sleek clothing? I doubt it.

So, whatever may bother you today, meditate on the sufferings of another bring perspective to our own lives.

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