The Extraordinary Mind
This world is full of extraordinary people. Let’s agree on this first. The problem is extraordinary people are not always accompanied by extraordinary minds which makes escaping from reactivity difficult. To me, the extraordinary minded have principles which they believe are self-evident, and don’t get why other people don’t get that. Acting a certain way just seems “right” on a universal level.
The person with the extraordinary mind may be accused of thinking they are better than other people, or frequently asked, “Why do you always have to do the right thing?” This is because extraordinary minded people believe the world can be traversed straight up. There’s no need for deception. No need for manipulation. Or no need for drama to get what you want. To outsiders, it seems as though the person with the extraordinary mind has an amazing life.
Everything is perfect.
Nothing really bothers them.
They find the bright side in everything.
They are always in the right place at the right time.
It seems like they are continuously getting better in life and leaving everyone else behind. These are the people that have escaped from reactivity.
Most people live life like a teeter-totter. Up on one day, down on another. They let everyone know it. Sometimes it is conscious, sometimes it is sub-conscious. It is difficult to make them happy because they themselves do not know what makes them happy. They are highly reactive and have definitive ideas about how the world should be, how people should act, and how people should be treated. The highs are very high, and the lows are devastating.
As a society we are taught from a very young age that we are entitled. At the age of three you already know how to scream out “That’s mine!” when another child grabs your toy. As you grow up you’re taught that you can have anything you want. The problem is that TV, radio, Instagram, and Facebook show us what others have, or what others are doing, and we now WANT that. We get angry and feel like a failure when we don’t achieve it. Your need for acceptance slowly makes you invisible in this world when you don’t get the likes or comments you’re after.
The illusion is believing that you can OWN something. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that you can buy something and have it in your possession, but on a grander scale everything in this world is impermanent, so why get so attached? The only thing that you can control is your emotions, but there’s no school out there teaching us how to do that so we get sucked in. The drama makes us feel alive.
The Balance Beam
I can’t tell you what’s best for you but I do know this. Your life balance – everything you desire lies in how you think relationships ought to be. Relationships to cars, homes, money, at work, your parents, your friends, or your significant other.
If you draw a vertical balance beam on a piece of paper, the longer it is, the more narrow it has to become in order to depict depth. This is usually what happens when we are not in control of our reactivity. We start off teetering back and forth trying to find our balance, and as we move on down the beam it gets more and more narrow and finally we explode. Your brain essentially runs out of options and a flood of emotions ensue.
What can we do to counteract this?
We STOP reacting. We stop having expectations or preconceived notions of how life ought to be. We flow with life like water down a river.
A rock? No problem let me flow around or over the top of it.
A turn to the left? No problem. Turning.
A cliff? I’m going over the edge trusting this fall will not harm me.
One of the major factors that has helped me escape the grips of reactivity is one simple phrase I repeat over and over in my meditative practice. That phrase is:
“You must react as if everything that happens in your life is what you chose.”
A majority of people lead with, “I don’t want this,” or “Why me.” This leads you to question life, live in the past, and have anxiety for the future. Life has not given us the ability to go back in time and change something, or transport to the future to see how it turned out. Hence, the tension. We start living upside down. We find answers in the present moment but that is not where we are spending our time.
Becoming the Ocean
Nothing controls the ocean. The moon moves the tides in and out but the danger remains whether in high tide, or low tide. Essentially, you are at it’s will. That is the power that IS the ocean. The ocean is vastly huge and contains many other living creatures dependent on it for survival. The ocean cares not what the creatures do. If a shark eats a seal, there is no judgement. It is there to help these organisms thrive. We call this humility.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the Chinese philosopher LaoTzu and reads:
“All streams flow to the sea because it is lower. Humility gives it power.”
Which can lead to:
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Become the ocean. Serve others. Give of yourself. Realize how small you are as an individual, and how big you can become as a community. I’m sorry the dry cleaner ruined your Ralph Lauren blouse, but there are people facing genocide each day they wake up, or have to walk 6 miles to get drinking water. Yelling at the man behind the counter does nothing to advance humanity in any respect.
Non reaction is a form of work we do on the ego. It’s observing the voice inside our head telling us what we should do and picking out the right content that will serve the situation correctly. Don’t be alarmed at the first thought that pops into your head. Sit back like a movie goer and watch how fascinating the story is as it develops. Those emotions are not you. They are reactions to how your emotions think things OUGHT to be. Realizing and accepting things as they are provides us with a concrete foundation we can create an actionable plan out of. The worst form of lying is lying to ones self. Your plan is defective from the very start.