Years ago I worked with a guy who had a dry wit. Whenever something was not going well in his life, he would say “it’s just another day in paradise.” He said the phrase reminded him how ridiculous it is to expect life to always go smoothly.
Most of the time we go along in optimism or acceptance or surrender to life as it is. We tell ourselves we are happy, contented, enjoying life. And, sometimes all that’s true. It truly is just another day in paradise.
In most lives it isn’t true all the time. Now what? Today sucks – now what do I do?
The Buddha said he taught only one thing – suffering and the end of suffering. He distinguished pain from suffering. If someone we love dies, we are in pain. If we fall down and break a bone, we are in pain. A real in this world occurrence that causes real pain.
Suffering is different. Suffering is of the mind. Thoughts. It’s optional. We sort of think our way into suffering. In our mind we rethink and rethink and rethink an event that didn’t go well or an upcoming event that is making us feel uncomfortable. Notice in both cases we aren’t living right here, right now, in this moment. It’s easy to get caught in the past or the future.
To alleviate suffering pretty much all the classics work well. Forgiveness – either forgiving yourself or the other – or, both. Gratitude – for what you do have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Moving your attention from your thoughts to your heart – feeling – love – as a verb and as a noun.
You can learn to soften inside. Take a deep breath and make a little more room around your suffering – more spaciousness. Through meditation you can learn to become the observer or witness of your thoughts – to just sort of watch the thought show.
I guess, as my friend years ago said, it isn’t realistic to expect life to go smoothly every day. It is realistic to learn how to end our suffering.
So, is today just another day in paradise?