One of my good friends has been recommending that I try meditation, and suggested that I read the book Mindfulness in Plain English. I started reading it today and its message strongly resonated with me.
Recent events have convinced me that there's a more open, honest and connected way to live the rest of my life. So I'm searching for ways to help myself down that path. Based on what I've read about meditation so far, it sounds like it could teach me a lot.
I'm going to finish reading the book and then start practicing the techniques it describes. The author explains that it takes discipline to reap the benefits of meditation. That's OK with me.
I'll blog about my experiences with meditation in case anyone else is interested.
I consider myself a pretty confident and easy-going guy. However, ever since I was a kid, I've occasionally found myself worrying about something way out of proportion to the thing itself.
For example, when I was 10 years old I used to use my bed as a trampoline and enjoyed bouncing up and down on it as if I was in a circus. Then one day I noticed that my bed was leaning a little. When I investigated, I found that my jumping had damaged the legs of the bed and the wooden supports had broken. Rather than doing the usual thing - telling my parents and offering an apology - I spent about a month worrying about it and inventing tons of excuses that allowed me to hide the state of the bed. When I finally got up the courage to tell my Dad, I was braced for the worst. But all he said was "don't worry, we'll get it fixed". Imagine my relief!
There have been several times during my life where I've worried heavily about something and gone through contortions to avoid talking about it. And every time I've finally spoken about what was on my mind, it has seemed silly and small.
When I was a kid, the consequences of this behavior were relatively minor. But as an adult, they have become major, and my recent heartache has been the worst of the lot. The question is: how should I deal with this tendency in the future? How can I learn from my mistakes?
Based on my experience, it seems like the best approach is to talk about something early on so that it doesn't have the chance to take hold and fester. It sounds easy, but for me this will take a lot of courage. Right now, I'm willing to try anything to improve this part of myself before it does any more damage to my well-being.
I live in the U$A, which is well known for its emphasis on the accumulation of wealth. Which brings up an interesting philosophical question: What is Wealth?
An obvious definition is "wealth is the total monetary value of your assets minus liabilities", but I think a more useful definition is "wealth is experiencing the things that you value". This definition takes into account the fact that many valuable things cannot be purchased with money, and that wealth is more of an emotion than a number.
An enlightening exercise is to create a prioritized list of the things that you value and then figure out how many of them you are currently experiencing in your life. Here is a selection of items to get you started:
a good night's sleep
reading a good book
enjoying a sport
a sense of purpose
Many people with a large wealth based on the assets-liabilities definition find themselves to be poor based on the experiencing-your-values definition. I bet that people are happier when they make choices based on the latter.
Many people believe that personalities are heavily influenced by pivotal childhood experiences. According to a recent article in the New Scientist magazine, it's more likely that many of those childhood experiences are really just manifestations of the existing personality. It's certainly a thought-provoking notion, and in the "nature" vs. "nuture" debate, pushes things towards the "nature" side of the equation.