The final event for this year for our small (yet growing) group of folks (Vedanta Center of Cleveland) was a Thursday evening conversation titled “Facing Life’s Challenges” by Swami Sarvadevananda of Southern California. His message about ‘challenges’ was conveyed with remarkable directness, humor, strength of spirit and practical advice that I share with you below.
1. Acceptance. We are best served by accepting the challenge head on – whatever we may perceive it to be. Acceptance empowers us to use our energy to deal with the challenge instead of wasting energy in fighting its existence. Once we accept that challenges are inevitable, and that they are signs that we are alive, we can put our best energies forward in facing them. This is the first facet.
2. Identification. Is the challenge at a physical level, a mental level, or at both levels? Yes, there are challenges that come our way beyond the physical and mental, but let us talk about these two levels for now. If it is a purely physical challenge, say injury or disease, are we making it worse by adding inordinate suffering to pain? We often transfer the pain of a physical challenge to the mental level, and recovery takes much longer than necessary. This is the second facet.
3. Perspective. When faced with a new challenge, our tendency is to believe that this temporary challenge is somehow permanent. We tend to forget all the previous, more daunting challenges that we may have overcome. We may even compound or exaggeratedly ‘advertise’ our adversity in order to perhaps attract immediate sympathy. How does such an attitude – a loss of perspective or a distorted view of the challenge – really help us face the challenge? So, we need to ‘keep our head about us’ and keep our perspective. This is the third facet.
4. Blame and Change. We often find great solace in assigning blame – our friends, our family, neighbors, co-workers, politicians, religious leaders… the list is long. Somehow, our challenge is ‘their’ fault. If only That person would change Their behavior or actions or thoughts, we would not be facing this challenge. How often it is that we are quick to forget from our heart all the good things they may have done for us or said about us! And how often it is that we hold for inordinately long periods of time in our heart the smallest of slights or perceived insults? What if we were to reduce blame and change our own selves? This is the fourth facet.
5. Service. Is our current challenge really that big? How does it compare with the challenges of others in the world around us? How about we take the focus off of our (often petty) challenges and use that very same energy to serve those who are much worse off than ourselves? This is one of the easiest ways to forget about our own pain – serve those less fortunate than us. This is the fifth facet.
6. Faith. We accept, do our best, with a good attitude and perspective, stop blaming, change ourselves, serve others – and yet, the challenge remains. Now what? We may need to humble ourselves to the fact that there are some challenges beyond our physical, mental (and other) capabilities. We may need to ask for help to deal with the challenge. We may need to surrender our excessive reliance on the I. This is the sixth facet.
I share the above facets with you in the hope that one or more of them will come in handy as you face your next challenge. As we polish each facet, the inner diamond becomes more luminous, more radiant. And the next big challenge will be met by us with a brilliant sparkle!
P.S. Join us in #SpiritChat on twitter – Sunday, October 29th at 9amET/1pmUTC. Share some facets of your challenges, and your tools and techniques in dealing with them. Thank you!
Chat Summary: https://storify.com/ajmanik/life-s-facets-and-challenges