It was a snow storm. Huge wet white snowflakes were falling down in the air obstructing my view. Snowflakes hovered into my eyes even if I covered them with my hands. I was returning home from a choir rehearsal. The nature around me looked beautiful – at least what I could make out in the midst of the snowflakes. My life felt wonderful.
Around the corner to my house I met a neighbour who usually greeted me cheerfully. She said: “I had a really bad day at work and now this (awful) weather.” I did not want to intrude by asking what had happened during her work day. Maybe I should have. It could have alleviated her feelings.
I was enjoying the snow storm, my neighbour was not. I had had two creative hours with beautiful choir songs while my neighbour had something not so nice happen to her at work. She was upset, had been thinking about the issue on her way home, and therefore the snow storm was irritating her.
Would she have felt otherwise if it was sunshine? Not necessarily, because she was having negative thoughts. Maybe the sun would have shone into her eyes and she would have blamed the sun.
I remembered a quote from Echart Tolle:
”The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
The weather has got nothing against us. It is what it is. We cannot influence it. Unhappiness due to weather derives from our thoughts.
We can choose our thoughts
Some of us seem to be satisfied with many things, some are unsatisfied. We all have our individual stand on things, an attitude to life that reflects our thoughts – expectations that we have on ourselves, on others or on things and situations.
Many times, I have caught myself thinking how an event should have come about or how things should be so that I would be content, instead of accepting my life as it is.
Dissatisfaction easily expands to include many situations that we cannot affect. The till roll at the checkout of the grocery shop may run out right before it is our turn, and we need to wait. We may be late for the bus and blame either ourselves, “I should have left earlier”, or the bus, instead of accepting the situation as it is. We can decide which mindset we choose: satisfied or unsatisfied.
Does your dissatisfaction contain fear?
I do not suggest that anyone should suppress their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. We have the right to both feelings. Dissatisfaction can tell us about ourselves and about the way we are accustomed to thinking. So can satisfaction.
I have admitted to myself that when I aim at effectiveness and good performance, I am dissatisfied if I need to wait. At the back of my mind there is a fear that the waiting time will reduce the time I have for something more important. Someone else might be afraid that they will blamed for being late due to the waiting. But what if I just accepted the situation? I cannot change it, whether I am blamed or not.
In traffic, I become irritated if I am not “perfect”. I reflect my own fear of failure on other drivers. A situation may annoy me because it requires quick braking, or someone next to me accelerates their speed just as I am hoping to pass them and catch the exit conveniently before them.
This irritation may result from fear that something might have happened, or that I could not make it to the exit in time. I have projected a blame that should be on me, on to another driver. I was not able to estimate the situation correctly and keep on the right lane in order to catch the exit without a problem.
Other ways of thinking that easily stir up emotions are: “I do not need to obey rules because others do not obey them either” or “I do not respect others because they do not respect me”. (In other words, I attract disrespectful treatment because I behave disrespectfully towards others.) A typical thought might be: “I know and I can, others do not.” Are we afraid of being wrong or becoming squeezed by others, and is it therefore that we need to find the reason for dissatisfaction outside of ourselves?
None of us is attentive enough in traffic to take everything into account, nor can we foresee what other drivers are thinking of doing next. Therefore, dissatisfaction towards other people’s behaviour is often dissatisfaction towards ourselves.
Blessing in disguise
We have developed our ways of thinking as we have grown throughout our lives. Other people’s words, expectations, the rules of the society, and beliefs have defined how we are expected to behave. Or to be precise, defined what we expect from ourselves and what kind of expectations we are willing to respond to.
Dissatisfaction can signify that our thoughts are not at ease with our expectations. I am not saying that we should always come up to other people’s expectations. However, I wonder if we expect the world to fill all our expectations while we could try and conform to the world. We can, of course, hope for better, but the need to be right may make us unhappy, miserable, and dissatisfied.
I have previously used the following example to illustrate how we make different interpretations on the same situation depending on our own way of thinking. The comment “you look beautiful today” can sound like praise for someone, while someone else would think that they are not usually beautiful. A third one would think that the person making the comment wants to please them. Yet, none of these interpretations is necessarily what was actually meant with the comment. Interpretations arise from our thoughts.
In case I spend my life frowning or with a serious face, am I expecting something from life that it is not? Where does my dissatisfaction stem from? Am I forcing the situation with my thoughts? Am I expecting too much? Is there a wider meaning to the events that are taking place in my life?
Maybe I was supposed to become aware of something during a difficult day at work. Maybe I missed the bus because the next one would take me to my destination faster. Maybe the other driver next to me accelerated so that I could open my eyes to my own blind spot concerning my behaviour. Am I stuck in my own point of view?
Looking at things from a wider perspective, one could see that a difficult situation is a blessing in disguise. If I accept the situation as it is – rain or sunshine – I will allow life to touch me and provide me with new opportunities. My thoughts do not prevent happiness from entering into my life. I can be satisfied that I was provided with an opportunity that I could not imagine myself. Life supports me.
I can hear your whisper
Eckhart Tolle’s twitter account
A Course in Miracles