Do you get more stressed on vacations than you do staying home and working–especially short 4 day weekends on large public holidays?
For the 4th of July, my wife and I took the boys to Tahoe. My wife’s stress level reached Defcon 5. Nothing I did seemed good enough.
Finally, on Friday, she took the kids to the lake and left me at the cabin. The perennial question most men ask on a daily basis echoed in my head, “What did I do wrong?”
Since I was on a blogging break, I finally had time to catch up on some reading. Thanks to my Kindle, I read 3 books simultaneously which leads to mind-expanding perspectives. I was about half way through Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin; Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron; and How Quantum Activism Can Save Civilization by Amit Goswami.
Serendipity hit immediately as I read a chapter in Wired for Love subtitled “How to please and soothe your partner.” Tatkin offers a more realistic vow that couples could say at the altar:
“I take you as my pain in the rear, with all your history and baggage, and I take responsibility for all prior injustices you endured at the hands of those I never knew, because you now are in my care.”
This vow reminded me not only of the importance of acceptance in a relationship, but also the need to be an active agent rather than a victim. Taking responsibility for my partner’s burdens even though I might not have had anything to do with them cultivates the kind of compassion that, in my mind, is essential to a healthy relationship.
Yet I was still feeling like an innocent victim, so I switched books. Pema Chodron solidified the message in a chapter titled “Be Grateful for Everyone.”
“‘Be grateful to everyone’ means that all situations teach you, and often it is the tough ones that teach you best.”
Gratitude is a huge part of my daily practice, but I had not reached the point of being grateful for individuals when they are the most difficult. One of the most shocking and inspirational quotes I have ever read was by the Dalai Lama:
“Many times I am asked if I am angry at the Chinese for what has happened. Sometimes I lose some temper, but afterwards I get more concern, more compassion towards them. In my daily prayer, I take in their suffering, their anger, and ignorance…and give back compassion. This kind of practice I continue.”
The Dalai Lama advises to treat our enemies as “precious jewels” since they give us our greatest opportunities to deepen our patience, tolerance, and compassion. Our loved ones who are, at times, difficult are not our enemies, although we tend to think of them this way during times of strife. Surely, we can be grateful for them and consider them “precious jewels” not just for the love they give us, but also for the opportunities to cultivate our compassion and unconditional love.
All good things come in three, so I kept reading. Amit Goswami offered perhaps the most profound advice on the matter:
“If you don’t mind, nothing matters.”
At first glance this is some of the best relationship advice I have ever heard, but it goes deeper than that. Coming from the perspective of quantum physics, Goswami isn’t just talking about conflict resolution. He is offering a new realty. According to quantum physics, nothing exists without the observer. Moreover, modern neuroscience proves that we can change our physical existence by changing our thoughts. Therefore, if we “don’t mind”–put thoughts in our mind–these thoughts cannot create matter or reality.
So when we think thoughts of compassion and peace, instead of thoughts of anger and resentment, we are literally creating peace in our world. At that very instant, sulking alone in the cabin, I had the choice to create peace or conflict. We all have this choice every moment of everyday. Isn’t that wonderful?
Truth be told, I had trouble releasing the resentment of being abandoned during my vacation, so I minded and mattered some egotistical comments that upset my wife when she did return later that night. But I continue to re-mind myself of these three concepts of 1) taking responsibility for my partner’s burdens, 2) being grateful for my partner even when she is having a bad day, and 3) focusing my thoughts on compassion and peace at all times to create the reality I want to live in.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.
Do you believe in serendipity? Do you believe in mind over matter? Please share.