Excerpts: Zen and the Art of Happiness
How do you come to believe that the stressful situation will ultimately turn out to be to your advantage?Updated: Aug 02, 2018 18:39 IST
One of the greatest obstacles between you and happiness is stress. By stress I mean a feeling in your mind of fear, anxiety, distress, worry, unease, or foreboding caused by using your mind to imagine a bad outcome to a past, present, or future event or situation. Nothing else causes stress. The events or the situations do not contain stress, although they seem to.
Stress comes from the way you relate to events or situations. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s the same formula as the one for happiness. Neither stress nor happiness is contained in things, events, or situations. Things are just things, events are merely events, situations are only situations. It’s up to you to supply your reaction to them. You get to choose. To prove to yourself that this can be the case, think of the many times you have felt stress over something that never materialized or, if it did materialize, ultimately turned out to be for your benefit. If only you had known from the beginning that it would work out favorably, how much more pleasant your life would have been. That’s the way you can approach all situations. Stress will never be completely gone from our lives because of all the negative programming we have taken on, but we can eliminate most of it. The tricky part in eliminating stress is controlling our imaginations to envision a happy outcome rather than a poor one.
How do you come to believe that the stressful situation will ultimately turn out to be to your advantage? The short answer, and the one I explored in greater detail in chapter 6, is that because we are the Universe, a part of it, and because the Universe wants to benefit itself to the maximum amount possible at all times, the positive outcome is the only outcome it will permit. I realize that may still be a big leap for you to take, especially considering what’s gone before in your life, but that’s the leap you need to take if you are to be stress-free and happy most of the time. Only when you put that belief into practice are you able to perceive it as reality. After you have practiced for a while and have seen the results, you’ll come to know it’s true. And that’s when you’ll begin to wear that little smile—often. expectations
You should not be surprised at whatever you
see or hear….If you are ready to accept things
as they are, you will receive them as old friends.
— shunryu suzuki
You create your world by your expectations, and you can influence the future by how you respond to the present. To help eliminate stress from your life, now or in the future, rely on your philosophy.If, as part of your philosophy, you believe that every event will turn out for your benefit, stress will never enter the picture. I have spent weeks convincing people in my workshops of that truth, and when they finally came to believe it, stress was largely gone from their lives. Many of those whose lives had been nearly ruined by stress said it was the greatest gift they had ever received. If you stay in control of your imagination, it’s impossible to feel fear or stress. You should get a great deal of comfort from that information because your imagination is entirely under your control. You can just as easily imagine a good outcome as a bad one.
Excerpted with permission of Amaryllis Publishing House from Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss