A dear friend was getting ready to board a plane on his way to surprise his father. Suddenly, his phone started beeping with texts from relatives telling him to urgently call home. To his surprise, his father had passed away suddenly.
He asked me how I felt last year, knowing my brother Fernando was passing away. He was seeking to understand which is better: to experience sudden death, or to know your loved one is dying and be able to mentally and emotionally prepare for that very moment. I couldn’t answer his question, but I was instantly transported back to the day I decided to go on my ten-day Vipassana Silent Meditation retreat. The lessons I learned there helped me through the toughest moments in my life and taught me to live in abundance every day.
Here are highlights of four key life lessons to consider:
1. Misery comes from Craving, Aversion, and Ignorance.
• Craving: Longing for something you don’t have. Craving goes away when we look at the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. There’s something special that happens when we’re grateful for what we have and take time to notice even the smallest of things.
• Aversion: Evading pain or discomfort. When we realize everything in life comes and goes and we take time to identify what we’re really feeling and work THROUGH it rather than evade it, we gain new strength in our ability to handle difficult situations.
• Ignorance: Going through life with preconceived notions rather than trying to understand first, then act second. I’ve made many mistakes in my life when I’ve judged erroneously instead of approaching a situation with innocent curiosity.
2. Silence is key. When we listen INTO people, rather than waiting to say what we’re thinking, we open ourselves to a deeper understanding of the other individual and deeper learning outside of ourselves. I often tell my employees, “Listen to what’s not being said.” Many times, we find “a question behind the question.” Unless we’re listening attentively and staying present with the person in front of us, we could miss the entire purpose of the dialogue.
3. We are responsible for our own happiness. By observing the habit patterns of our own unconscious minds, we learn to stop reacting to situations. I’ve learned the moment I lose emotional connection, I get triggered; my “knee-jerk” reaction is to control the situation. Once I slow myself down long enough to realize it’s a trigger, then and only then can I react appropriately to the situation at hand. So, rather than going into “controller mode,” I’m free to react positively and articulate my feelings in a way that doesn’t attack the other person. Instead, I become aware of the “negative cycle” that puts me into an uncontrollable downward spiral.
4. Integrity is the key to a peaceful life. Have you ever noticed how fidgety people get when they’re out of integrity with themselves and they try to hide the truth? In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey reminds us when trust goes up, speed goes up, and vice versa. When we’re congruent with our values, live by them, and align our decisions based on them, our decisions are simple to make, our lives are easy to live, and we produce the best results. People love to be around us, they trust us, and therefore there’s no second-guessing what they can expect from us. This is true in both our business and personal lives.
As we look ahead to our next season, let us always be aligned with our core values, realize everything in life comes and goes, and live a life of gratitude, seeing things as they are and not as we would like them to be.
“Living in Abundance” © Dr. Betty Uribe