Can’t get no satisfaction? The Transience of Pleasant Experiences and the Inevitability of Unpleasant Experiences

I could share just about every single post that Toni Bernhard writes these days. She, like me, struggles with being seriously chronically ill. We who deal with chronic and acute illness are blessed to have her writings to help support us. I often think about how lucky we are to be able to have so many wonderful dharma teachers/friends and peers via the internet.

An excerpt from Can’t Get No Satisfaction? The Buddha and Nietzsche Can Help

The Transience of Pleasant Experiences and the Inevitability of Unpleasant Experiences

If we try to control all of life’s circumstances, we will be rife with dissatisfaction. This is because we can’t make pleasant experiences last, and we can’t prevent experiences that are unpleasant to us from arising. So, the cause of our dissatisfaction is this tendency to live in a constant state of craving, a state I like to call “want/don’t want.” We want pleasant experiences to last and we don’t want unpleasant ones to arise.

As for pleasant experiences, that unease I referred to in my own mind is often present during a pleasant experience because I want it to last forever even though I know, deep down, that it can’t (whether it be a good time with my granddaughter, a beautiful sunset, or an ice cream cone). As for unpleasant experiences, I can no more control the temperature outside than I can a politician’s position on taxes—I can’t even control the thoughts and emotions that arise in my mind (thus that crankiness I referred to!).

Life simply refuses to always be the way we want it to be or the way we think it should be. We can refuse to accept this, but it will only increase our dissatisfaction.

The good news is that we can ease this dissatisfaction by changing how we respond to pleasant and unpleasant experiences. When we open our hearts and minds to life as it is as opposed to how we want it to be, we can “get that satisfaction” we’re seeking. It’s a lifelong practice, but it’s never too late to start.

Opening to life as it is doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take action to change things personally and globally. It simply means that our starting point is life as it is. read the rest of the article

Toni Bernhard consistently reminds me about the path I’m on and what I’m trying to learn. She is the author of the superb book How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers which is how I found her work.




A related collection of links:  Information and inspiration for the chronically ill

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