Whether a karma believer, religious, atheist or a mere pragmatic there is one concept that unifies all of us- living life ethically.
Living life ethically is not a charitable choice but rather a self-interested action that leads to long-term happiness. Of course shortcuts to power, fame and wealth sometimes involves un-ethical behavior, but the satisfaction from each of these desires is short-lived. Ethical behavior increases the quality of life because it adds meaning to your daily existence.
Now, what would make a good blueprint for ethical behavior? I would say combining a mix of common sense with a benevolent philosophy, religion or wise practice that you like and feel comfortable with. I for instance like Buddhism because it is an open, flexible and practical philosophy whose sole purpose is to relieve human suffering…and contrary to what some of you have heard, it doesn’t need to involve fasting, giving up of possessions, living life as a homeless person or meditating 24/7 under a Bodhi tree.
Buddha was neither a messiah nor a prophet and he didn’t ask for people to follow his teachings just out of respect for him. He advocated testing and questioning a method before integrating it to your routine. Yes, people can choose to worship Buddha but this is purely symbolical- far more important is the application of techniques that can potentially lead to a happier more meaningful life.
This is where Dharma comes into play. Dharma represents the teachings of practical Buddhism, or a set of approaches you can implement to increase the quality of your life. Today I will provide you with 8 small tips that could potentially make a big difference- for the better! (Adapted from Buddhism for Dummies)
1. Turning the page on your great expectations
What this essentially means is: don’t be surprised if things didn’t end up according to plan. Even if all goes well and you are satisfied with the end result, how long will that satisfaction last? You will always end up wanting more. Accept your disappointments and use them a catalysts for positive change.
2. Accepting change gracefully
Reality is impermanent, your tastes and desires change naturally over time- so allow them to change without resisting! Remembering this will help you from being attached to desires and material possessions.
3. Pretending to be buddha
When feeling negative, find a quiet place where you can sit down and allow your self to think and feel everything without restrainment. Observe your thoughts and emotions as if you are watching them on a film. Slowly you will experience relief, as they will become more and more distant.
4. Breaking up the concrete
As reality is impermanent it is also indefinite- one day you are in one situation and the next day you are in a different one…at your death bed are you going to remember the time when a man yelled at you because you parked your car in the wrong way? Of course not! So approach negative situation with indifference, allow it to sink in, have a nap and analyze it later- all of a sudden it will not seem as bad as it did before!
Material possessions have a limited shelf life: they are brilliant at once but after some time they decay. Upon accepting this reality you will never be too attached to objects and accept that decay is a natural part of life
6. Seeing what is yours isn’t really yours
Once you become less attached to your possessions it will also be easier for you to accept a loss. The attitude to adapt is realizing that you own possessions for a definite time period: i.e. you see a nice watch in a shop; it is not your watch until you buy it (then you consider it yours). If in an unfortunate event you loose the watch just think about the time before you purchased it- the watch was not really yours in the first place- it will help you accept the loss more gracefully. Same goes if something gets stolen from you.
When we hurt ourselves our mind becomes the master controller of how we experience the pain: the more we bring attention to it the more intense the pain will be. On the other hand if the mind associates the pain with someone or something else that experiences the same pain, it lessens the intensity by distracting you.
8. Dealing with uninvited housequests
While some problems arise because you take the situation too personally others come forward because you don’t take things personally enough! Live life without harming others, and when I say others I mean not only humans but animals as well. Not a vegetarian? At least don’t participate or support the slaughter of animals. Eating a piece of steak is a lesser evil than killing the Scottish Angus.
Do you have some of your own ‘Dharma’ tips you would like to share? Tell me all about them here or tweet them @indigomemoirs!