Two Strategies to Ease Stress and Suffering

The Holiday season is upon us and that brings social and familial commitments. With these commitments, there is an increase in conflict and stress. We are aware it will happen and promise to ourselves not to let it get us this year. What follows will provide two necessary strategies for handling any conflict or stressful situation during this Holiday season, and it will begin to reduce suffering in our lives if practiced with genuine integrity.

Conflict or stress is a form of suffering. Suffering is a direct result of expectations not being met. It emerges from interactions between us and the world.* In these interactions, suffering is a result of not acknowledging what you can effect change in or in essence, control. We do not recognize that what the world is and what aspects of our experiences in the world are not within our control. In our experiences in the world, what is in our control is how we react to that encounter and how we perceive the experiences in the world; this is all that is within our grasp to effect change in and control. What does this mean? I can control or effect change in my reaction to the encounter or situation. I can also control or effect change in how I perceive the conflict or stressful encounter in the world, as well as how I perceive the world itself. This is it. I cannot control any other aspect of the encounter or experience. What the other says, I cannot control. What the other does, I cannot control. What the world is I cannot control. Simple really, we want to avoid or eliminate conflict and stress, thus ease suffering during the holidays; so, acknowledge what we can control and accept what we cannot control is the simple solution to reducing conflict and stress, thus easing suffering.

Consider any stressful experience you encounter in life or during the holiday season. With that or any experience, our role in any encounter is all that we can control. Reducing conflict and stress begins with accepting what we can control and applying two strategies for change. We must become aware of what we perceive in our experiences in the world and how we react in our encounters and experiences. This is not easy, but it is possible with sincerity and integrity. Take a particular action against another or a judgment made by a person about someone else. There are two events occurring in this encounter or experience in the world. The first is the perception of the judgment by the person and second, our reaction to the judgment by the person. The two strategies are what our attention must address. Effecting change in our perceptions of our experiences in the world and effecting change in our reactions to those encounters are the two strategies for reducing conflict and stress.

Apply these two strategies by asking, with sincerity and integrity, a few fundamental questions.

· “Do I judge others?” · “What is it about the world that I believe that leads me to make this judgment?” · “How can I react to this judgment?”

When making a judgment, we justify it from a principle about what the world is that we believe or endorse. Our beliefs about what the world is differ; but, our different beliefs about what the world is differ from what the world is independent of our beliefs about what the world is. The actual questioning of “What is it about the world…” initiates the change of what we perceive the world to be. What we perceive is what we want. To change what we perceive, we must change want we want. When reacting to an encounter, our reaction appears to be instinctual, but it is a habit and habits can be changed. The actual questioning of “How can I react…” begins the change of how we react. How we react is what we perceive. To change how we react, we must change what we perceive. Once we recognize and acknowledge what is in within our control, we then start to see how what we believe the world is is not necessarily what the world is independent of our beliefs of what the world is. These strategies of grasping what we perceive the world to be and how we react in encounters and experiences allow us to handle any conflict or stressful situation and even ease the suffering in our lives.

*The world is to be understood as the ultimate setting for all experience, past present, and future.

**This is a simple idea to eliminate suffering in your life that most all ancient texts, philosophical, religious and otherwise, mention.

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