So you’ve had one of those mornings where you had an argument with your housemate about who is going to contact the plumber. You get to work and your colleague does that thing that you find slightly annoying but this morning you can’t take it and end up yelling at them.
The day is just getting worse.
You wouldn’t have acted like that if you weren’t already upset. Now you feel bad and would rather run away to a faraway land.
But does it have to be that way? Buddhism has a simple answer.
Sticking with it
What would happen if you gave yourself time every day to sit with what you were feeling about what was happening in your life? Not pushing it away, but not making it bigger than it actually is, either.
Buddhists have found that that is when change happens. Upon giving space for feeling and reflecting, we start to see the patterns of our actions and what leads us to act (and react) in certain ways.
We can find that how we act might be limited by how we are feeling in the moment, and there are way more possibilities than it appears at first.
Vested with this knowledge, we can take responsibility for our actions. So much of our happiness depends on the quality of our interactions with others. We can use our agency to make our relationships more harmonious.
The harmony toolkit
As Buddhists we have five tools or precepts that help us make our lives more harmonious:
We try to act with loving kindness.
We find ways to be open handed and generous.
We cultivate stillness, simplicity and contentment in ourselves so we don’t act. impulsively so much.
We try to be truthful in what we communicate.
We keep a clear awareness, and avoid things and substances that cloud our minds.
Precepts aren’t rules, but are guides to a more harmonious life. Putting them in practice isn’t easy, yet highly rewarding.
There is no endgame with Buddhist ethics, we can always do more, be more mindful and kind. The point is to do our best, to keep in touch with how our actions really feel, then adjust whenever we can.
This way, we can transform our relationships and make life better not only for ourselves, but others as well.