No matter how much you try to philosophize, some situations are universally bad situations to be in. Here are a few examples:
- Coronavirus pandemic
- Being physically unfit or unwell
- Having no order or structure in your day-to-day life
- Not honoring values and obligations
- Generally, practicing self-destruction under the guise of “self-care”
It’s only natural to feel unhappy when things are bad and happy when things are good. But I think a lot of the time, we don’t recognize how much control we have over things, so we surrender personal responsibility to the “cruelties of life”* and unironically wonder why we feel like shit.
We can exercise some level of control in the coronavirus pandemic through social distancing. We can overcome most physical health challenges through proper diet, activity, and sleep. We can order our daily lives with routines and rituals. We make the choice daily to honor our values and obligations – or not. We honestly know the difference between real self-care and what marketers try to sell us as self-care; it’s a choice to ignore and indulge in the latter.
For me, what helps is not to moralize decision-making. Meaning, beating yourself up for making poor choices in the past is pretty useless, if not destructive, now. So when it comes to making choices, think about how you want to feel as a person based on those choices. Do you honestly enjoy feeling like garbage and lying to yourself that nothing’s wrong every day? Be straightforward with yourself; the politically correct police aren’t watching.
If not, change. Do what you know to be good for you.
It’s not only for yourself, but for the good of those around you, that you self-improve.
Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.
-Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Fifth Mindfulness Training
And I’d like to add on to the concept of self-care. Have you noticed that marketers always try to make the purchase of products integral to caring for yourself? While products are fun to buy and try, this is a lie after a certain extent. Self-care can’t be bought like an item on a shelf. Self-care is a series of consistent behaviors with the intention of doing what’s best for you so you can do your best for others. Self-care is action. Realizing this is the first step to aligning your daily actions with what is true, good, and beautiful.
Or, you could just do nothing and feel bad for the rest of your life… but I hope that you will learn to respect yourself more than that. Me too.
Thank you for joining me in today’s food for thought. Take care; make good decisions, solve problems, and until the next one…
P.S. “cruelties of life”* I’m not so naïve as to deny that life really can be cruel, but more often than not, I think people make excuses, my past self not proudly included.