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The Primary Cause of Unhappiness

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to explore the primary cause of unhappiness. So Eckhart Tolle said, "The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about the situation." Now, that's a pretty radical thing to say. So you might find yourself kind of thinking right now, but you don't know what I've been through. It's been horrible.

And I absolutely agree. Many of us have been through incredible pain and suffering and loss in our lives that is very real. And we would never expect someone to feel good during a time like that, you know. In times of challenge, loss or crisis, a certain amount of fear, grief, sadness, or stress is really inevitable. And that's a completely natural response to the more difficult times in our lives.

However, I think it also does hold true that for many of us, we also tend to cause ourselves a lot of excess unhappiness, excess suffering through the thoughts we have about a situation. An example. Two years ago, I developed a really debilitating illness. I had it for months and months on end. Of course, this is an unpleasant thing to have happened, but it was my own thoughts about the situation that made me suffer so much more.

Oh my God, what is going to happen to me if this keeps going on? Maybe I'll lose my ability to work? Or, you know, thinking to myself, who would ever want to be in a relationship with me when I'm so sick and unable to work or play? Or just thinking, I don't like this. I don't want this. Why me? So my sickness was one thing that was fairly simple. I have less energy. There's some pain in the body, foggy head, low mood.

Now when I could just accept that, you know, when I could just accept this as my situation right now, I could be at peace with it. But in the times when I did add all those unhelpful thoughts about my situation on top, I suffered so much. I felt anxious about my sickness, sad about my sickness or hopeless about my sickness, depending on the inner narrative. Now there's an old saying, you know, "Pain in life is inevitable. Suffering is optional." And I think this is what Eckhart is pointing to here.

While we cannot control the fact that painful or difficult experiences will come our way in life, but we can choose not to add more unhappiness, more suffering on top. So the invitation for practice today is just to be aware of the mental habit of adding unhelpful thoughts, to already difficult moments. It could be, you know, in that moment, when you miss the train, make a mistake, experience a setback, or have a difficult conversation. In these moments, just noticing any thoughts that get added on top that make things feel so much worse. And as best you can, just letting them go and bringing your focus back to the present moment on what you can see, hear, and feel all around you.

So that's the practice. And as always, thank you for your practice. Let's settle in now for today's meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

The Primary Cause of Unhappiness

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to explore the primary cause of unhappiness. So Eckhart Tolle said, "The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about the situation." Now, that's a pretty radical thing to say. So you might find yourself kind of thinking right now, but you don't know what I've been through. It's been horrible.

And I absolutely agree. Many of us have been through incredible pain and suffering and loss in our lives that is very real. And we would never expect someone to feel good during a time like that, you know. In times of challenge, loss or crisis, a certain amount of fear, grief, sadness, or stress is really inevitable. And that's a completely natural response to the more difficult times in our lives.

However, I think it also does hold true that for many of us, we also tend to cause ourselves a lot of excess unhappiness, excess suffering through the thoughts we have about a situation. An example. Two years ago, I developed a really debilitating illness. I had it for months and months on end. Of course, this is an unpleasant thing to have happened, but it was my own thoughts about the situation that made me suffer so much more.

Oh my God, what is going to happen to me if this keeps going on? Maybe I'll lose my ability to work? Or, you know, thinking to myself, who would ever want to be in a relationship with me when I'm so sick and unable to work or play? Or just thinking, I don't like this. I don't want this. Why me? So my sickness was one thing that was fairly simple. I have less energy. There's some pain in the body, foggy head, low mood.

Now when I could just accept that, you know, when I could just accept this as my situation right now, I could be at peace with it. But in the times when I did add all those unhelpful thoughts about my situation on top, I suffered so much. I felt anxious about my sickness, sad about my sickness or hopeless about my sickness, depending on the inner narrative. Now there's an old saying, you know, "Pain in life is inevitable. Suffering is optional." And I think this is what Eckhart is pointing to here.

While we cannot control the fact that painful or difficult experiences will come our way in life, but we can choose not to add more unhappiness, more suffering on top. So the invitation for practice today is just to be aware of the mental habit of adding unhelpful thoughts, to already difficult moments. It could be, you know, in that moment, when you miss the train, make a mistake, experience a setback, or have a difficult conversation. In these moments, just noticing any thoughts that get added on top that make things feel so much worse. And as best you can, just letting them go and bringing your focus back to the present moment on what you can see, hear, and feel all around you.

So that's the practice. And as always, thank you for your practice. Let's settle in now for today's meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

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