There are very few certainties in life. But one thing you can be absolutely certain of- you will have challenges and problems, no matter what. And when those problems come, you’ll only have two choices in how you react: positively or negatively. Buddha understood this aspect of human nature and taught that there were 6 key areas for development in order to overcome these difficulties.
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1) Replacing Bad Habits
If you’re trying to start a new habit, like an exercise routine or overcoming an addiction of any type, there can be times when you need to resist the urge to fall back on bad habits. And while this is very important, it’s really only part of the solution. Giving up a bad habit is very hard! That’s why Buddha recommends everyone replace a bad habit with a good one.
If you stop smoking, you could start painting. If you stop eating junk food, you could start eating healthy food. Or if you are going to stop hanging out in nightclubs and getting drunk, you could start going to yoga and drinking raw juice. It’s very important that you consciously look for a healthy, sustainable replacement to bad habits, because if you don’t you may end up with a worse habit in its place.
2) Stop Over Consuming
Consumption works both ways; you could be over consuming or under consuming. You could be eating too much or not enough. You could be not drinking enough water or be drinking too soda. You could be buying too much stuff that you don’t need or you could be depriving yourself from the things that you do need. This is why the concept of balance is so important! You have to know when to consume more or less of certain things in order to overcome life’s challenges. This goes hand in hand with self-knowledge; because when you learn more about your needs as a human being you get more of an understanding of how much you need and when you need it.
Excess is the greatest threat to happiness.
You can’t always have what you want when you want it! This is not a bad thing though; just imagine everything you set out to do was completed straight away. You would have nothing to aim for, no goals. If you have something big that you want in your life you will have to be patient and you will also need to be persistent. This is to teach us the lesson of enjoying the journey. Be patient and persistent and the world will open to you!
4) Avoiding Unnecessary Conflict and Temptation
The spiritual path isn’t always about pushing headlong into every conflict and challenge. Sometimes the art of avoiding conflict is more important. For instance, if your friends are going to a fast food restaurant and you just started a new diet, don’t go with them. If someone at work acts negatively and always leaves you feeling down avoid them. Some things in life will need to be confronted, but sometimes the best way to deal with a problem is to just avoid or ignore it.
5) Remove Obstacles
Your life is your responsibility and when certain things have a constant negative impact on you, you will have to make a decision: am I going to accept this or remove it and move on? This can be especially hard when it’s a relationship. But it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself!
6) Learn to Say No
Unfortunately, lots of people go into adulthood without knowing what they want or what they stand for. This is why the lifestyle they’ve always wanted alludes them. This is also why boundaries are one of the most important things we can have for ourselves; they give us the life we want to be living. We all have the same amount of time during the day, but some people struggle with getting basic chores done, while others excel running a fortune 500 company. Both are totally fine choices- but to get those lives, you have to be willing to say no to things that might distract you.
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