Without pressure, carbon can never become diamond. If you think you cannot stand the pressure, then you do not know that you are a human being. The human body has been made to withstand extreme pressure to crystalize the consciousness.
As Buddha reminds us, we are all born to suffer, not in the sense of living a life of misery, but in recognition that we are unlikely not to experience great sorrow and painful disappointment in the course of our lives. Loss is inevitable. Our capacity for responding to it with resiliency is up to us.
The challenge is to surrender to reality. We can focus on what is lost, or we can put our emphasis on the possibilities that might open to us.
The pressures inherent to the realities of life are ever present, as are the choices we make in response. We cannot control the time and place of the sorrows that are inescapable but with each loss there is heightened aptitude for appreciating life. I am inspired by this insight authored by Mary Pipher in a recent Sunday NY times piece, gratitude is not a virtue but a survival skill, and our capacity for it grows with our suffering.
Recently I hosted a workshop, How we think is who we are, the thesis being that our perceptions can become our realities. The insight gained from the exploration: happiness is a function of mindset; it’s a skill we acquire by increasing our ability to act in our own best interest.
Life without pressure is a utopian myth. But we don’t need Xanax and the Four Seasons spa to deal with the stress. We can detach from events and see the pendulum of life in the long view, increasingly able to reside in the positive moments and — here is the opportunity – increasingly able to create them ourselves, regardless of what life has in store.
We can change the dynamic with a simple reminder: what happened, happened. Going forward, I’ll choose the script.
Mary Pipher’s article, “The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70’s,” validates our determination to respond to life’s preordained suffering with the understanding that the “joys and sorrows of life are as mixed together as salt and water in the sea.”
We don’t look forward to the losses we will face, but from the pressures we endure with grace, the ‘diamond self’ is created.