Related to this lesson, I’ve noticed a habit of avoiding knowledge that conflicts with my core beliefs. This isn’t anything new – human misjudgment is an ever present topic. However, spotting my own misjudgments can make me far more effective.
Being effective, and making better choices, is a more important to me than avoiding change.
The Tour de France just finished and I didn’t watch any of it. My lack of motivation was unusual and I wondered why.
The legacy of cheating has been to make it too painful to care. In my case, that manifests in a lack of interest in elite sport. In the case of the wider public, there is an element of truth-fatigue. It’s too painful to discover the reality that underlies an obsession with winning.
I’m using sport as an analogy – it’s an easy one for us to feel, and see in others. Choose your favorite sport and you’ll find a tendency to overlook it’s short-comings. If you can’t see it then ask a foreign friend their thoughts (or simply a pal that likes a rival franchise).
The lesson for daily living is deeper.
- A friend with Alzheimer’s
- An elder with dementia
- A sexually abused child
- A partner that defrauds the community
In these cases, we will feel a strong urge to “give the benefit of the doubt” to whatever causes the least pain. We will default towards inaction and strongly avoid information that compels us to face pain. I feel avoidance strongly in myself – it’s taken many setbacks for me to overcome.
One of the best lessons of hospice is that freedom lies on the other side of fear. Hospice lets me “be with” my fear of death/disease and feel grateful for today. Gratitude is powerful medicine to carry around inside.
Hospice is “easy” – it’s quiet and I’m not expected to solve anything. My home on the other hand… is often loud and I’m in charge. Maintaining serenity in my own house would be transformative for me, my wife and my kids.
So I look for small, daily, opportunities to practice equanimity:
- Reading a conflicting viewpoint
- Avoiding “justified” disappointment in a friend
- Letting a commute unfold without battling my fellow drivers
- Not playing into a negative emotional pattern with a spouse, child or myself (!)
Overcoming the smallest things, closest to us, can be powerful.
It takes courage to face pain.