As a yoga teacher, I spend a lot of time reading- finding inspiration to share with my students. Recently, I was introduced to an author and psychotherapist named David Richo, and started reading his book The Five Things We Cannot Change….and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them (2006). With simple thoughtful words, David Richo, is able to communicate his philosophy, while combining Buddhist/ Eastern ideals and practices.
In Ricco’s point of view, there are five constants that are we cannot change in our lives, but with the right perspective and outlook, we are able to find our happiest selves and live the happiest lives.
The Five Things That We Cannot Change are as follows:
- Everything changes and ends.
- Things do not always go according to plan.
- Life is not always fair.
- Pain is part of life.
- People are not loving and loyal all the time.
Sounds kind of cynical at first glance- but its true. We can’t control how our life will unfold or how people will act/ react and sometimes even the best people get dealt the shortest straw. Life is full of suffering, its how we emerge from the suffering that shapes our experience. The book is great- you must read it.
One of the my favorite passages starts with this quote by George Bernard Shaw-
This is the true joy in life: being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little cloud of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
From here, Richo goes on to say that our life’s purpose “is to be the most loving people we can be.” (p. 27). When we move through life from the perspective of loving kindness in Buddhist philosophy, our capacity to live our lives lovingly and compassionately continues to grow, expand and multiply so much that when we are faced with adversity, we are highly equipped to deal with the big stuff and to flow through our unique challenges reducing our experience of pain and suffering.
With that being said, its not always easy. Yes, sometimes life sucks- relationships end, people treat you poorly, fortunes are lost, businesses end, people die, the one thing you thought you could count on changes, and sometimes our suffering seems so unbearable that we can’t even imagine going on. Nothing is permanent- nothing. Everything is evolving- moving us right into the place where we need to be.
Since we know nothing will stay the same, we have a choice as to how we will experience the “ride”, right? All we need to do is to love and live our lives from a kind and loving place- easier said than done sometimes. As we evolve and put this practice into our lives, everything we encounter becomes easier, less tragic, less desperate and more compassionate. Even if we aren’t always working from this place, each time we strive to live in a space of unconditional love and kindness, we start to remap our brains, changing our lives.
One of my yoga teachers in San Francisco would start his classes out with a dedication. The request was that we dedicate our practice to someone in our lives who was suffering. To take it even further, he would ask us to dedicate our practice to someone that we didn’t like who was in pain or suffering in some way. This practice is true loving kindness, finding compassion for someone that we don’t even like or maybe even someone who hurt us. We dedicate from a selfless place-experience and the feeling is transformative, finding love in your heart for someone you don’t even like.
Selfless love is truly evolutional- Live, flow and love….