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Difficult Life Lessons

Updated on December 24, 2011

"The highest problems repel ruthlessly every one who ventures too near them, without being predestined for their solution by the power of his spirituality."

- Nietzsche

I wonder why after I write a difficult life lesson, it is illustrated shortly as a real life experience for me.

I must admit that, like most of us, I usually shy away from difficult life experiences; I prefer the easy ones. So for some time, I have decided to stop writing about difficult lessons, thinking that would spare me from difficult life situations.

Looking back, I tried to recall some of the difficult life experiences I’ve had or heard friends have and tried to come up with a thought or idea that could have, if worked up to a belief level, at the time helped alleviate the pain of going through the difficult situation.

“Open to everything, hold to nothing.” – Ray Grigg

The first part, “Open to everything”, is almost synonymous to the second part, “hold to nothing” so we will be taking liberties applying whichever part of the quotation, as seems called for by the situation.

A subtle meaning of opening to everything is to have a receptive attitude or open mind. This may be obtained by stilling the mind of thoughts, possibly by stepping back from the situation, e.g. from thoughts of deadlines, in order to allow creative ideas to rise up like yeast to the surface of conscious thinking.

Hold to nothing can imply letting go of our control issues. The same author mentioned that sometimes it becomes a matter of choice between reputation and wisdom. Neale Donald Walsh mentioned our choice as between being right or being happy. What these mean to me is that we need to step out of our usual role identification or ego-based identity that enslave us to think that our idea or position is the only one that is correct.

When we let go of our control issues, we are able to see the wealth of resources around us: from other people and our own insights (we get more of these when we are able to let go of the things we were used to insisting on in the past) and moving in the world becomes a much more enriching and fulfilling experience for us.

At this point, it would be noteworthy to mention that insisting on having things our way, by resisting challenges, does not work. On the contrary, it aggravates the negative shenpa. It feeds the negative energy, making us feel worse and shuts down our creative thinking. Thus, it may keep the ‘treasure’, the lesson of the experience, obscured from our view. And it’s been said whatever life lesson we fail to learn, keeps repeating the experience until the lesson itself is learned.

Let’s take a look at some sample situations in the light of the idea “Open to everything, hold to nothing”.

Editor/Writer of a Non-Profit Small Town Paper. You have to deal with quality, quantity and deadlines. It’s almost the deadline and you’re still lacking a major portion of contributions from other article writers. Here are some of the ways that “open(ing) to everything,” might work for you:

· An idea comes up that you could go to the library and copy some synapsis of books to come up with suggested reading to your paper’s audience. Opening your mind has created a new section in your town paper for featuring books!

· An idea comes up to work with your community church leader to solicit article contributions from its parishioners. “… Hold to nothing” You no longer limit (hold down) yourself to your usual contributors for future publications. This brings the possibility for more substantial future contributions and diversity of topics!

Entrepreneurial Challenges. You are able to expand the number of clients for your IT services to the point that you can no longer provide services to the others. Opening to everything may mean here to explore the idea of having other people come in to provide services under your company’s name (making sure though that quality and reliability are preserved).

Holding to nothing may mean to let go of the usual full amount of revenue from a client transaction, as having someone else come in means sharing the income.

Employee Challenges. You have been working in your company for a long time and a newbie comes in, seemingly to perform the same function as yours. The attitude of opening to everything could actually provide you with the insight: your function has expanded beyond its usual or normal capacity, an additional hand is needed to effectively address the increased load on the position. Relatedly, you will understand that this is less stress for you and possibly more room for specialization, especially if the new kid’s and your background are similar but complementary to each other.

Holding to nothing may mean opening to the idea of having to train the new kid. Our control-based self would definitely resist this idea, mind you. But if we’re open enough, we will eventually see that we can now have more regular hours and work-life balance, unlike before when you may have had to render several hours of overtime each week.

Friendship Challenges. I believe this would be a favorite topic for several among us, since this is where a lot of heartaches usually come from. You could say that a sample idea can be lifted from the new kid-old kid story under “Employee Challenges” above, with you being the old kid and your old friends seemingly very impressed with the new kid/friend.

Opening to everything could mean your group now has a more diverse range of topics to chat about! Holding to nothing could mean being hopeful that your kindred new friend would stay, even while being accepting of the possibility that he or she may move on to another group.

Romantic Relationships. Likewise with above. Someone who we love is moving on. Our usual self resists the idea of having to be left alone. It’s hard for us to see how such a situation could possibly be good, but still we must: “Open to everything, hold to nothing.”

If we open to everything, hold to nothing, we might realize that there were so many others there around us all along wanting to make friends with us but unable to because we have always been in the company of our previous love. Holding to nothing will help us let go of our insisting on having things the way they used to be. Each moment that grief for the past comes up, we can accept that grief but then let go.

Braver Now

Going back to how I started on this article, the magic about it it seems is that if we write about things, the more they come true? If so, then we all should be writing a novel about the way we would like to see our lives turn out to be, including the lessons to use for when we encounter difficult experiences, which are not quite a ‘just in case’ things. But I’m braver now, thanks to:

“Open to everything, hold to nothing.” - Ray Grigg


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